This Thanksgiving was a bit of a strange one for me. I’m not able to see my family for the holidays this year, so instead, I decided to host my “Colorado family” for Thanksgiving at my place. One of the things I am most thankful for this year is the wonderful friends that I have here. I was really worried about moving to Colorado and having to start all over with relationship building, but I’ve strengthened some old relationships and also been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to build new relationships here. My Thanksgiving dinner was a little bit of a mix of both!
I woke up yesterday morning intending to hit the elliptical, but instead, got an email from a friend who lives in the mountains inviting me up to Summit County for a weekend of skiing. Don’t mind if I do! However, that meant that I’d be missing out on my Saturday long run, since I knew I wouldn’t want to do it in the mountains. (Combo of extra altitude, lots of snow, and the fact that I wanted to spend my time there skiing, not running!) So that meant I was long running on Thanksgiving morning – not a bad way to gear up for the feast ahead!
After baking a few things in preparation for the meal that night, I pulled on some running clothes and headed out the door. It was beautiful out – about 55 degrees with sunny blue skies. How crazy is that for the end of November?! I am really thankful to live in a place where we can get amazing weather like this, but then drive just 45 minutes and be in winter wonderland for skiing.
However, the run wasn’t perfect (what run is?): there was a pretty strong headwind up until about mile 5, when I hit a multiuse path that ran through some neighborhoods whose homes shielded me from the wind. And of course, when I hit the open road on my way back and was hoping for a tailwind, the wind had died down. Go figure! But I had a fabulous time anyway, especially since I didn’t really care what pace I was hitting, and was just focused on getting the distance in (goal: 13.2 miles).
Lately I’ve just been doing out-and-backs, which means I can pretty much go wherever I want as long as I’m willing to retrace my steps on the way home. So when I was up in one neighborhood and knew I only had about a mile left before I needed to turn around, I turned left instead of my usual right, and was rewarded with the discovery of a really pretty open space and lake. Hooray for stumbling upon new running routes! I ended up going a little longer than I planned, since I went further than I needed to before turning around, but I wanted to see this new beautiful place! I know where I’m going on my next run…
After drinking all.the.water when I got home (I guess Colorado’s super-dry climate means I might have to give up my probably-slightly-unsafe habit of not carrying drinks when I run?), I took a quick shower, did a last minute grocery run, and then settled down to one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities: making dinner. To make me even happier, I put on the soundtrack to the Nutcracker while I cooked and cleaned. I did the Nutcracker for eight seasons growing up, starting as a polchinelle and working my way up to Clara, so it felt really traditional and sentimental to get to listen to that. One downside, though, was that I kept interrupting my cleaning to do bits of the dances – oops! But it all got done 🙂
Thanks to my Thanksgiving spreadsheet, cooking was a breeze, even when I learned about some unexpected guests at the last minute. (Very easy solution: adjust headcount in spreadsheet, and see which recipes require doubling as a result. Only two!) I had kept pretty much the same menu as last year, except that I was ditching the quinoa apple cake that no one ate last year (sorry, Greatist) and subbing in pan-roasted brussel sprouts for kale. Since the brussel sprouts could be made ahead of time and then just heated up in the oven at the final moments, that swap helped me minimize the running around the kitchen at the last minute. Which I mostly was able to do – with the exception of a little time crunch when I needed to get the potatoes peeled and diced in a hurry. Thank you to Heidi for stepping in to save the day and keep dinner on time! Next year, I’m going to do that part ahead, and put the potatoes right into the pot of water so they don’t brown – then all I’ll need to do is allow extra time for the whole thing to come to a boil! But that’s no work on my part.
One of my favorite things about keeping the Thanksgiving spreadsheet is that I can see what works and what doesn’t work, and then tweak it for next year by applying those “lessons learned.” (God, I am such a consultant to put it in those terms. Anyone want to come to my After-Action Review boondoggle to help me tweak the 2015 menu further? Location: Plymouth Rock. Casino time to follow.)
When it finally came time to sit down to dinner, I was pretty happy with how just about everything turned out. (Okay, maybe not the carrots, which I should have either cut smaller or cooked longer.) And, as a bonus, while I totally piled my plate high with food, I didn’t go back for seconds of everything, like I’ve done almost every year before. I left the table full of delicious food, don’t get me wrong, but not in a turkey coma or wishing I had gone with slightly smaller portions. I think part of that was my avoiding the usual advice about “make sure you eat a good breakfast on Thanksgiving” – I mostly just tried samples of the things I was making (which can add up to a lot when you have 15 things on the menu!) and then had a Balance Bar after my long run to keep myself satiated without filling up my stomach. I knew that I’d be overindulging at dinner either way, so it made more sense to me to eat light earlier in the day. Just goes to show that what works for some people doesn’t work for others – I know I would have eaten just as much at dinner if I had regular breakfast and lunch beforehand.
And that was really important that I felt good after dinner, because after everyone else had gone home, my friends Caitlin and Adam stuck around to lounge around on the couch, sip wine, and talk about anything and everything. I had gotten to do the same thing with Cait and my friend Kelly on Sunday night, and it made me realize that sometimes, those casual moments are even better than a formal dinner!
Sometimes I just feel like there has to be an “excuse” to have people over: it’s Thanksgiving, or the Superbowl, or Bachelor premier night. Come over for board game night, or paint and wine night, or Cards Against Humanity. Etc. But it really doesn’t take more than just good friends and a couch (okay, and maybe a little wine) to have a good time – and I want to start having more people over “just because.” (And maybe I can even start being more spontaneous about it instead of always being kind of an uptight planner? Still working on that.) After living in NYC for so long, I’m not used to being able to easily host people at my place for stuff, but I’m really thankful to now live in a big apartment where I can do just that. Having friends over “just” to hang out is one of the things I’m most looking forward to in the holiday season and in 2015.
Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving too with plenty to be thankful for!