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Normally on Thanksgiving my family packs up the car and travels two hours south to Salt Lake City to Hogle Zoo. We watch the animals tear through paper mache turkeys to get a special treat. The first year we went, no one was there – who goes to the zoo on Thanksgiving? It was a special time where we got to see the animals up close, they don’t miss out on food! (something that we humans haven’t evolved from yet..). Then we go home and eat a delicious turkey filled meal.

Instead of going to the zoo this Thanksgiving, I am driving somewhere else, Minnesota. My friend Zak invited any of us Ei-rs who were not going home for the holiday to come to his home in Minnesota to enjoy a traditional midwestern Thanksgiving. Olenka and I took the bate and accompanied Zak and his roommate Sam on the adventure – lovingly deemed #Zaksgiving


After 7 hours of driving we arrived in Geneva, MN. It was snowy, icy and dark. The little town was quiet as we drove through the one-and-only stop-light. We were welcomed by Zak’s parents with open arms and we headed downstairs to get some shut-eye before the anticipated holiday feast. I slept underneath this delightful duck/antler hybrid that looked like a dragon from underneath.


PB295199Thanksgiving morning we woke to a BITTER cold! It was -14º, and not expected to get much warmer. The paper said that it was the coldest it had been on Thanksgiving in 84 years!

It didn’t deter us. We grabbed the turkey and some deserts and bravely walked into the frost. We walked/skated all the way to Zak’s aunt’s house (an entire 4 houses down! I love little towns).




We were welcomed inside and smelt the warmth of a Thanksgiving feast. After meeting cousins, aunts and friends we made our way into the living room where tables and chairs were set up amid what I can only describe as a soirée safari . I got my Thanksgiving zoo experience after all! I sat next to a giraffe and across from a herd of wildebeest.




1417120316652Dinner was delightful with a full spread –– the classics: turkey, ham, stuffing, yams; new favorites: a pineapple pretzel deliciousness and a Minnesota staple, grape salad; plus a surprise, jello with carrots (apparently that is a thing outside of Utah too!). Everything was delicious and plentiful. The only surprise (besides the aforementioned jello) was that there were only 3 pies for 30 people. In my house, where there are typically 8 pies for 7 people, we would have had major chaos. I thought there might be a competition to see who would actually get pie. To my surprise there wasn’t, and only 1 pie was eaten. I still do not know how this is possible – my only explanation is a miracle similar to the loaves and the fishes in the bible…

After dinner I was introduced to a new tradition –– a Thanksgiving craft. The Tracy’s pulled out canvases, paint, and brushes and let us free. There were some examples but mostly laughs and creative energy. I painted a penguin Christmas (I can honestly only draw birds).

(I promise that the bottom penguin just slipped and did not suffer from a bloody head trauma)

(I promise that the bottom penguin just slipped and did not suffer from a bloody head trauma)

After a few hours we headed back to Zak’s. We played a card game, Wizard, pool and ping pong. It was a marvelous time

I am so grateful for the hospitality and kindness of the Tracy family. There are good people everywhere!