November is here, and Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in part because it is a low-maintenance holiday. There are no costumes, decorating, going out in crowds, fireworks or gift-giving required. You simply enjoy a good meal with friends or family. That is unless of course you participate in the black Friday madness, which I loathe because it defeats the whole purpose of Thanksgiving, but I digress. I also love Thanksgiving in part because I have so many fond memories of Thanksgivings past. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was in high school some choir members went to a local church and served food to the needy and sang. After I left for college I  wasn't able to go home for Thanksgiving, as the time and money to go back to Alaska so most of my subsequent Thanksgivings were spent in nontraditional ways with friends and roommates. My first year away I spent with friends eating on a blanket on the floor because there was no table. We ate, drank, and laughed well into the evening.  Another year my dear friend and e-mail pen pal came to visit me from Ireland and we met face to face for the first time. My college friends and I cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner with her. She was in shock at American grocery stores when we took her to the warehouse-like Winco to shop for our dinner. One year my roommate and her sister were vegan so we cooked a huge Vegan meal, with the main course being a roulade with the crust made out of lentils, which actually tasted amazing. There's been a few awkward Thanksgivings in the mix. My first Thanksgiving in California I went to a classmate's house and ate with her family who I barely knew, ate as fast as  I could to get the hell out of there. Nevertheless, I look forward to it every year. Now having my own family I look forward to starting our own traditions and memories.
I also enjoy the holiday because of the idea of taking time to reflect on our blessings. The history of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth may be suspect, and the Pilgrims and Indians probably were not really sitting hand and hand singing Kumbaya together, however the idea is what is important. There is a reason Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday. I know this because I starred as Abe Lincoln's wife in my 5th grade's Thanksgiving Day play. I'll be the first to tell you I am sarcastic, cynical and oftentimes just outright negative, but I believe taking time to count your blessing and give thanks is important. Whether or not you go around the table and say what you are thankful for, or just silently reflect, that is what this day is for. What are you Thankful for in 2015?

These are from Thanksgiving 2004 where my friend Dee flew to Ashland to visit for her first trip to the United States, and first Thanksgiving.
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