Lawrence, Kansas, a town of about 90,000 people, about a third of whom are students at The University of Kansas (KU), has become now my second home. After four months living here I have become used to everything around, from the crazy Kansan weather that changes from 60 to almost 20 degrees in the same day, to the people, fellow students and the city itself. After overcoming the cultural shock, looking with a positive view at the differences, and enjoying the whole new atmosphere, I ended up getting so used to this town that I thought it couldn’t surprise me anymore. But I was wrong.
On November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, the city turned its lights on to embrace the Christmas spirit – a month in advance!
I stayed in Lawrence for my first American (and overall my first celebration of) Thanksgiving. It’s an important holiday in the U.S. – time to spend with family, to be grateful for all blessings you have and, maybe not that important, time to stuff yourself with probably more food than you should!
I spent the holiday at a friend’s house (since my hall closes for the breaks) and we got an invitation for a real American Thanksgiving dinner party. I can describe that in only one word: delicious! We had a gigantic turkey (twenty-six pounds, not even kidding!), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, ten different desserts – well, too much to keep describing.
The whole dinner was relaxed and fun, and I had a great time. But Lawrence surprised me the next day, the famous “Black Friday.” I wasn’t part of the shopping madness that develops the day after Thanksgiving, but instead my friends and I went around the town just to see the lights greeting Christmas. Downtown Lawrence had changed into a bright and happy town radiating a feeling of warmth, opposed to the cold weather that welcomes the winter.
During the Thanksgiving break I also went to Kansas City and saw the famous Plaza, a beautiful, gigantic square filled with Christmas lights and decorations, honoring the city’s name with lots of fountains (on which I ran around and even got wet) and families giving the last detail to this picture with their bright and joyful faces.
It’s not only the decorations though. The holiday spirit can be felt in the air: radios dedicated to holiday music, people decorating their houses and talking about plans for the end of the year, and, for college students, the excitement of winter break approaching.
For those who haven’t guessed yet, Christmas season is my favorite time of the year, and this time it is going to mean going back home after four months in the U.S. Four months have made this place feel like a second home, where I made a lot of great friends and enjoyed great new experiences, but I’m already excited to go home and see my family after all this time away. Especially because this season celebrates family, and because I heard all my American friends talk about how good it felt to get back home during their Thanksgiving trips.
All the holiday spirit is probably making me sound too mushy so I better stop now. Enjoy your holidays everyone!
Lights up! It’s Christmas!!!