The holiday season is in full swing. It is the time of year that family and friends come together and reflect on all that we are thankful for. While I typically can’t wait for this time of year, I have to be honest that I was a little blue as Thanksgiving crept closer. For a second year in a row I couldn’t make it back to visit family on the west coast or the east coast. However, in true Midwestern fashion, my boyfriend’s family quickly opened their arms and welcomed us for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. What made this Thanksgiving even more special was the chance to bring two transplanted grad school friends along as well.
As we hopped on I-94 west and left civilization behind, my friends were a little stunned. One is from New Jersey and the other from India… and we truly weren’t in Fargo anymore. While I sometimes laugh at how desolate this time of year looks outside of Fargo, there is something somewhat beautiful about the vast openness of the North Dakota country side. Miles and miles of farmland always causes me to take a big breath of fresh (yet cold) air. As I announced our arrival into the town of our destination, my friends looked around at what must have been the smallest town they had ever been in. “This is so cute!” one replied cheerfully. Over the past few months, I had watched them, like me, fall in love with the unique-ness that is the Upper Midwest. Instead of criticizing, you find the joy in experiencing something so different.
The meal was everything you would expect from a North Dakota Thanksgiving- hearty, comforting and delicious! I was quick to overload my plate with the typical Thanksgiving fixings: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, ham, the most delicious dinner rolls (oops… I mean buns), pumpkin pie and apple pie. One unique item that separated my plate from my plates of Thanksgivings past was the lefse. I had seen lefse in the grocery stores and heard locals rage about it, but I had yet to actually have a taste myself. In case you are unsure of what lefse is, imagine a tortilla that is made with potatoes. A Norwegian favorite. After a quick demonstration of how to properly fix my homemade lefse (unroll, smear with butter, top with enough sugar to hear the crunch), I took a bite of pure, sugary, potato heaven.
As we said our goodbyes and hit the road, I started reflecting on how truly thankful I am for my experiences in the Midwest so far. Like my boyfriend’s family, I have been embraced by those around me with open arms. My move would have been a hundred times more difficult without the amazing people I have met so far. From new family, to new friends, to the cashiers at the grocery store who ask me what I’m planning on cooking for “supper”, all have made the past 15 months a joy. Clearly, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!