Thanksgiving 2013

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Thanksgiving 2013

10.15.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Like many special occasion holidays that prompt family gatherings, it can be a stressful, if not lonely time for those who either don’t have family or friends with whom to celebrate, nor a healthy financial income to support such festivities. For many, this is the case on Thanksgiving.

While my family and I were never actively traditional in celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey and its trimmings, we did on occasion, gather together with a large group of family and friends.

This year, however, my parents were away on a two-week cruise visiting 10 countries, while my father-in-law and mother-in-law were a distance away at Kingston with plans already made with other relatives. My sister had plans to celebrate with her in-laws and my brother was away on an acting tour in upper Canada, which will keep him away until Christmas.

Which ultimately meant, this year, my family and I were on our own.

So, I took the opportunity to take my children apple picking for the very first time!

Based on a great recommendation, we visited Carl Laidlaw Orchards  on a Saturday morning, which not only opened itself to our entire family including our dog, but was also relatively close to where we live, which meant a short travel time, and an opportunity to pick apples all day.

Carl Laidlaw Orchard Farm. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Carl Laidlaw Orchard Farm. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The kids getting ready to pick apples for the day at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids getting ready to pick apples for the day at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Me and Max enjoying our wagon ride around the apple orchard. (c) Photo Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Me and Max enjoying our wagon ride around the apple orchard. (c) Photo Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Michael reaching for an apple, (which was a big deal for him since he's extremely scared of heights and climbed up a ladder anyway). (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael reaching for an apple, (which was a big deal for him since he’s extremely scared of heights and climbed up a ladder anyway). (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Xara picking the apples she could reach! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara picking the apples she could reach! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Carl Laidlaw Apple Orchard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Carl Laidlaw Apple Orchard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The kids proud of their work. They picked half-a-bushel! Say, "Apple!" (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids proud of their work. They picked half-a-bushel! Say, “Apple!” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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For a nominal fee for a family of four (including our dog), we were able to pick a half-a-bushel of any apple variety in the orchard, which ranged from Ada, Gala, Matsu, Smoothie, Golden Delicious, and Red Delicious on that day. The price included a taste-testing of the varieties available, wagon rides to each plot, a free stroll on the grounds, a recycling bag for your apples, and a half-a-bushel of apples you get to pick yourself.

While we originally wanted to pick some Red Delicious apples, there weren’t too many to pick from the trees, so we opted for the next best thing, Golden Delicious apples, just a patch away.

 The kids were excited to ride the wagon (which we rode twice) and pick apples of their own choosing. While my son braved his fear of heights by climbing a wooden ladder to reach apples from the top of the trees, my daughter was more than happy to pick those apples she could reach at the bottom. And our dog, Max? She enjoyed the wagon rides the most.

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And rather than have a huge Thanksgiving dinner, we opted instead to have a quiet Thanksgiving lunch picnic at one of our favourite parks. It was a gorgeous, cool, and clear fall day, perfect for enjoying some time together outdoors. (It also meant, Mommy didn’t have to sweat it out in the kitchen trying to make a huge turkey!)

On the way to Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
On the way to Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Gage Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Xara looking for more popcorn chicken at our Thanksgiving picnic at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara looking for more popcorn chicken at our Thanksgiving picnic at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Me, enjoying the sights and the beautiful, fall weather. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Me, enjoying the sights and the beautiful, fall weather. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Big oak tree. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Big oak tree. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Gorgeous, clear day at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Gorgeous, clear day at the park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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While the children enjoyed playing in the playground at the park, my husband and I enjoyed some down time having a picnic while our dog resisted from chasing every squirrel that she saw.

Instead of having a gluttonous Thanksgiving meal, we focused instead on the significance of the holiday itself, which was to purposefully be grateful for all we have—and at the very least, we were able to spare the life of one lucky turkey!

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How did you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

What are you most thankful for?

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