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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Holidays away from home

Yeah, Yeah, I know, this post about Thanksgiving and Christmas is a little late...  OK, fine, A LOT late.  I don't mind, though... do you?

Discovering American Buffalo at Shelby Farms  in Memphis
(largest metro public park in America)
For this government internship, I luxuriously receive all government holidays off; however all of my vacation days have been pre-planned.  The Friday after Thanksgiving was allocated for one vacation day, as well as a few days around Christmas.  Unfortunately, on a small stipend and these limited days, my travel home to Florida was limited.  Specifically, it did not happen. :(  I wondered if I would bake a chicken breast in my apartment by myself on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but alas I was embraced by so many loving people that that idea was far from reality.  So many, in fact, that I had THREE Thanksgiving dinners and one Christmas dinner!  I know what you are thinking, it is tough to make room for one gluttonous dinner, let alone three!  I managed it with Thursday Thanksgiving breakfast, Thursday late afternoon dinner, and Friday late afternoon dinner!

This big girl snorted and pawed the ground at me...
then she  licked my hand!  Glad she didn't bite it!
Thanksgiving in Memphis
On Thanksgiving morning, I was invited to a friend’s work T-Day potluck where a full crew of folks were busy.  She is an air traffic controller, and Thanksgiving Day, government or not, is no reason to have a day off!  I was permitted entry, under supervision, to the secret areas that one usually only sees on big screen movies.  Inside the rooms, one would never know what time it is.  All the lights are dim, there are 4 or more computer screens per person working, plus double that number that are also being managed by supervisors.  It is techie heaven!  I got to “plug in” to the conversations and instructions, and listened to what sounded like a foreign language between pilot and controller.  Air traffic controllers must manage SO MANY different planes, routes, and air spaces at once; it was like waving a wand to make these events happen seamlessly!  Later that afternoon one of my fellow Dietetic Interns (who is from Memphis) invited me graciously into her home with her entire family – there were over 16 of us having dinner in the house!  The next day I was invited into the family home of a friend that I met during one of my rotations off-site (i.e., a rotation away from the VA).

Perhaps it was Memphis, or perhaps it was the holidays, but generosity abounded.  The warm embrace I felt, after moving to Memphis only 1.5 months prior, was unmatched. 

Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains
During Christmas, I took on the 6-hour drive to a city with which I share a long history: Atlanta.  But as a double bonus this year, I was with two of my wonderful friends, and we joined parents in the Blue Ridge Mountains for 2 days pre-festivity day.
Blue Ridge Mountains views from atop

Christmas day among friends-like-family, and skype-ing with my mother several times, put me in good spirits.  I also passed along my family’s Christmas morning mimosas tradition!  My mom, my step-dad, & I, for at least the past 10 years, join under the tree on Christmas morning double-fisted: a mug of coffee in one hand, and flute glass of mimosa in the other!  Alternating sips of coffee, mimosa, and present-unwrapping ensue, with a few pauses for refills (of mimosa) or reheats (of coffee)!  Oddly, my hosts were not as excited! :\

Watching The Nutcracker with friends at The Orpheum
My holidays were more blessed than I imagined.  While I have not traveled home for Thanksgiving in over a decade, this was only the second Christmas I have spent away from Mom since I was a broke 19-year-old au pair studying in Paris.  Christmas in Georgia was not my first choice, but alas I was reminded of the value of being surrounded by love and those most important to you.  I was with two of my closest friends in person, my mom on the computer, and my dad in my heart.  It was a good day.

“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards.” 
Life of Pi (page 20)

There was some bike fascination... including licking the handlebars!

Boys will be boys
The gang

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