One of my favorite times of year.

The Year Before Last: Kansas a.k.a. Anne came with me to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Steve’s Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. The five-star dinner was fabulous as usual, involving lots of thanks around the table. Our tradition is to have everyone write down three things they are thankful for. My uncle’s mother puts the sheets of paper randomly under each plate. When we sit down, each guest reads another person’s list. It is really beautiful, and this particular year, there were lots of K-State Wildcat cheers after each reading in honor of my sister Kansas.

Then everything kind of sloped downward. Too much wine and espresso-shot drinking, smoking ciggs, a bloody finger, kids caught with pot, and some shedding of tears turned the night into a disastrous one, at least temporarily.

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Then, our next-day shopping was made difficult by ladies jumping into different cars and iPhones not GPSing correctly. Whatever. We worked it all out and later on Friday went to my “Aunt” Ann’s apartment, Grace Kelly’s niece, who works at a boarding school where she also lives and, as an interesting hobby, brews homemade beer. Her son was there, who is absolutely my type—well, every girl’s type—ruggedly cute and down-to-earth charming, and it doesn’t hurt that he lives in the East Village. I invited him to our party in case his royal cousins bailed on him that night.

Yes, party. I admit it was not our brightest idea, but Anne and I decided to host a hangover party that Friday night. Therefore, we had to rush back to JC. Thankfully, most preparations were in place. Our doorbell rang exactly on time. Who does that? Who shows up on time?! I was still outfit-prepping.

Anne ran downstairs to get it. Oh my. Completely forgot. I’d met a boy while running in the park that Wednesday. He asked me the time, which I politely gave to him, but on my next lap, he seemed to need something else and just started running with me until I decided I should stop and give him a break. “What is it?”

“I just want to know your name.”

Gia, and who are you and what do you want?”

“I’m Kevin, a French tutor just leaving my lesson from that house over there and I want to talk to you.”

He was kinda hot…but young. I’m always down for making new friends. “Do you have a phone? I’ll give you my number.”

“No,” he said. “I just moved here from the D.R.”

“Oh, okay. Well do you have a good memory? I really need to finish running and get home, but I’m having people over Friday night and you should come! I live on X St. at Y address.”

Well damn, that was our first guest. I mean, after everything that had ensued between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and back between then, I had completely forgotten.

Anyway, super fun party regardless. Boy was 20. I was…not 20. He refused a drink but had fun playing Wii with my sister-in-law. Cute. Oh Kevin from the block, a.k.a. Juste Belmont (his poetic name, in his words), you were sweet. The adult fun with all the older kids ensued way late into the night after he left.

Last Year:

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and Anne and I were last-minute packing like crazy for our week in Kansas. We asked my bf to come over for a night in of JustDance3, some Mexican din, and could he please drive us to the airport early in the morning? He said yes…aww he’s the best.

Anyway, off we were from Newark to Wisconsin, where we met some fabulous people on our layover who told us everything about drinking in Wisconsin—they were all beer and cheese—and then it was off to Kansas.

We went right to the party, as it was Thanksgiving. We had such a great time with Anne’s 6-ft tall gorgeous cousins and chatting with the moms about cotillion. I was unaware that this competitiveness existed in every town. Or maybe sad that I didn’t experience this growing up? Probably grateful. No, in all honesty, the plans were brilliant and the dresses were beautiful, and I’d love to be in charge of something like that if I was a Momster.

It was also a gluten-free Thanksgiving, and we did joke about that, but everything tasted perfectly delicious. Then Anne and her sister, her sister’s fiance (now husband), and I went off to the bar to meet up with the infamous JP. I think the owners of Sport’s Page closed the bar but let us stay. This crazy lady came over and asked, B, Anne’s sister who made partner at a law firm before thirty, awesomeness, if she could help her with some legal issues involving her divorce. B had to recommend other people to take her case, not just because B doesn’t specialize in divorce, but this woman was seriously creepy. After that, we moved on to Sunset.

After sleeping a little late and playing with all the animals (4 dogs, two cats), we took a trip to Nebraska’s Furniture Mart to get rugs for the pets. We drove by the Kansas Speedway (used for NASCAR), the Livestrong Sporting Park (home of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team), and the T-bones field, then Anne’s high school. This was so far a productive day for the day after.

A brief stop at Quick Trip and two flavor-shotted sodas later, we went to JP’s house and went out to lunch at Gates BBQ (because the famous gas station BBQ line was out the door and around the block) with him and his parents.

We chilled at home for a few and went to get mani’s and pedi’s at Happy Nails at Legends, as well as festive rum runners. Rough day! We had dinner with Anne’s parents, B and her fiance, and all of the animals. Then the four of us kids drove through the Plaza lights to Westport. We started at McCoy’s, meeting up with K and C, then went to Harpo’s, Hoops, and ended back at Sunset.  Bed.

On Saturday, we went on a two-hour tour with Mr Kansas. He mapped out everything for me before we left, so I’d have a sense of place. He was an excellent tour guide, having a vast and extensive knowledge of the history and present-day happenings in KC. Oh how I love Kansas.

Saturday night we stopped in a random jazz club before meeting up with friends because we were freezing. It was supposed to be in the 60s/70s, but it ended up being in the 30s. We didn’t pack the right stuff. These guys were playing crazy great covers of classic rock bands, but we had other places to be.

We walked over to Matt’s apartment, where Jessica was waiting, drank cocktails, and went to the infamous Power & Light district. P&L is pretty much the coolest place ever. You wait on a line to get inside this mecca, which is essentially an outdoor pavilion with 360 degrees and two levels of bars surrounding you. We went to the cowboy themed-one first, where two cowboys asked me to squaredance. Ha! We moved on to the super clubby one to meet up with our favorite meathead Simon, then onto the PBR bar, yes that PBR of Brooklyn hipsters is actually from Kansas. Who even knows where else we went before leaving and going to the Quaff.  Then we took the party back to Matt’s, and again, who knows.

The rest of our trip included Anne and I going to the Flint Hills and walking around Union Station, tours of both Kansas’ parents’ offices, the best wings I’ve ever had, more shopping and fun with the most intelligent fifth-grader ever,  dinners treated by all of the generous adults, drinks with friends all over the city, and lots and lots of laughs.

What an amazing Thanksgiving week. All thanks to the awesome Kansas family!

Long, long, long story short: This year I’m going to be at Aunt Mary’s without Kansas. I need my common denominator! My partner in crime. Oh what fun we have had the past two Thanksgivings. ♥ my sister from another mother…and father!

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