I know you’re dying to find out how our Thanksgiving weekend went. Well I’m very pleased to report it was great. It was better than great. The plan to avoid the traffic worked a treat. We left on Thursday morning, stayed the night in Palm Desert with gorgeous friends then headed out early on Friday Arizona-bound.
We love Arizona and can’t wait to head back for more—specifically getting our kicks on Route 66. What started as a weekend to Sedona ended in a trip to visit friends in Chandler in Phoenix, Arizona. The irony wasn’t lost on me: Thanksgiving weekend and a lot to give thanks for in the form of gorgeous friends we met as expats when we lived in Shanghai.
Like lots of expat stories no sooner had we met and decided we quite liked each other than they were planning their exit strategy back to the US. Of course we never wanted to live in the US so the reality for us was wondering whether we’d actually see them again.
It’s always a late night when we hang out with them—we could keep talking all night—and I love that it’s not what they usually do but they Australianise themselves and we have lots of fun.
As we drove into Chandler my daughter started to get really excited. “Oh my god mum,” she said in that very dramatic tween way. “We’re in public school America. Can we live here.”
To her Chandler is like it is on TV or the movies: nice neighbourhoods, clean wide roads (that’s tarred—or black-topped—rather than concrete roads with lots of cracks and potholes like LA in case you’re wondering) and you can picture the yellow school buses stopping at the stop outside the street picking kids up to take them to the local elementary, middle or high school. My picture is more Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, hers is definitely Disney Channel.
We passed Chick-Fill-A, Olive Garden, Walmart, Target Superstore amongst the big, clean malls with lots of parking. She was in heaven. (We’ve never been to Walmart, perhaps not surprisingly there aren’t many around 90210).
Then when we arrived at our friends’ house it was like we took her to the Disneyland castle with all-you-can eat ice-cream with cherries on top. The epitome of an “American house” it had a grand entry, a formal living room and a beautiful staircase leading upstairs to big bedrooms with ensuites complete with Bath & Body Works foaming soap (appropriately scented for Fall and Thanksgiving). And downstairs a huge kitchen with the sink overlooking the resort-like backyard and a central island bench designed to gather around and serve the largest of feasts. You could almost see the Brady’s fossicking in the double fridge making sandwiches with mayonnaise and pastrami (or is it baloney?) and Alice telling them to head outside because dinner would be ready soon.
Yep, it’s no surprise Chandler has a sign as you enter that says “All-American City”.
We may be blessed to be living the dream in 90210 but Chandler is nirvana, utopia. It’s not Wisteria Lane or the Stepford Wives, it’s the Brady Bunch meets Ferris Bueller.
Twenty-four hours in Chandler with our gorgeous all-American friends in their all-American friends in their all-American town and I want to rush out and apply for a green card. If you doubted the American dream and discarded it as a myth you haven’t been to Chandler.
Don’t forget about the California Coastal Highway drive, LA to Vegas or LA to Palm Springs but if you’ve got a little longer try LA—Palm Springs—Scottsdale—Flagstaff—Sedona—Winslow—Grand Canyon—Vegas and back to LA.
This is little roadtrip has overtaken my Route 66 entry on last week’s bucket list because it covers Route 66 and adds an extra dimension. Arizona gets pretty bloody hot during the summer so plan your trip well but if you like the desert (I’m fascinated by it) then this looks like it will be a beauty. (I promise to write about it once I’ve done it).
Meanwhile I can write about Palm Springs to Chandler. I took about 550 photos because I just wanted to capture the desert landscape it all seemed so beautiful. Like many things though you can’t really capture the vastness and the green bushes with the postcard-perfect cacti and commanding and majestic mountains. It’s an easy drive and although it’s only really four hours it can get a little dull for the driver. The Americans have these interstates so well-planned that the direct route approach does little for the driver. The upside of course is you’re at your next destination in no time and it’s great to stretch your legs and soak in the desert ambiance.
Like us Aussies the yanks love a good roadtrip. One of the most frustrating things in Australia can be the lack of anything at roadside rest-stops. Well in America it’s like the roadstop are the attraction. It can be hard to get a park, there are queues for the toilets, people hanging around and dogs, dogs everywhere.
Even though no one else in the world really celebrates Thanksgiving we all know about it. Thank you Hollywood. What surprises me is that many Americans are surprised no one else celebrates it. (OK Google disputes me on this one but, well, we don’t in Australia so don’t let truth get in the way of a good story).
Hang on… why do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
OK, I thought the story went like this: the Pilgrims came, took over, planted crops and celebrated with a feast to give thanks. My friend the UK Desperate Housewife gives a nice summary of why we have Turkey Day (its new-age name). And that’s pretty much how most people see it. To the extent I just found out that they’re trying to stop calling Thanksgiving Thanksgiving because of the small fact that the pilgrims came in and all but took over from the poor Indians. (I don’t think they should be called American Indians because they were here first).
But with a little help from Google the real reason for Thanksgiving is to celebrate the Harvest. So, are the websites changing history or did I have it wrong? And if Thanksgiving is to celebrate the Harvest then why are some powers that be in my wacky host country trying to stop us calling the Holiday Thanksgiving? It’s getting some traction too because many people are calling it Turkey Day. For what it’s worth my two cents worth is let it go, it’s been Thanksgiving for this long and it’s worked so focus on something that might actually matter.
I’ll admit it the sight of Americans holding hands while their turkey gets cold and they reflect on all the things they have to be thankful for made me feel a little squirm-in-my-seat uncomfortable. But celebrating it with my friends last weekend that was the last thing I thought about. No now all I can think is how lovely it is to reflect and be thankful for all we have.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was homesick and wishing I had more than two friends and yet here I am telling you about an action-packed weekend filled with different friends who have opened their homes to us.
Three things to include in your “giving thanks” speech
Now that I’m embracing this giving thanks caper here’s three things you need to include in your giving thanks speech—in case you’re ever invited to Thanksgiving dinner.
- Good place to start: spouse, kids, brothers & sisters, nieces & nephews, parents.
- They’re there, good idea to acknowledge them.
- The moment. Fairly politically correct to acknowledge that yes it’s good to have a roof over your head, food on the table and clothes on your back (and in your wardrobe).
It’s been raining all week here in LA and the sun is just coming out for a while. It never rains here so it’s all people talk about. People cancel meetings, hair dressing appointments and don’t know how to drive on the roads. It’s more than hysterical.
Xx It Started in LA xx