Last year at this time, we chose to express our gratitude for the relationships that sustained us—and in many cases grew—during Covid. This year we are thankful that things have improved to the point that we are able to travel, an activity that for so many was put on hold for too long. In honor of Thanksgiving, we are sharing some highlights from our travel experiences, and we would love to hear from you about any trips that brightened your world this past year!
Travel has always been an integral part of my life, starting with my first cross-country trip to Alaska at the age of 2. My parents valued travel for its ability to broaden our horizons and took us all over Europe; I still feel slightly traumatized by the sight of that green Michelin Guide cover, but I sure did learn a lot! This past summer, I was able to pay that forward, by taking my 19-year-old daughter to Amsterdam and Paris. She is an art student, and had long wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The last time I was there was in 1989, and a lot has changed! But more than that, I have changed…and my daughter was about the age I was when I first toured the museum. As we wandered through the exhibits, my daughter commented on brush strokes, color theory, and Van Gogh’s life, and I learned from her.
From Amsterdam we traveled to Paris, where my parents, who deal in fine art, brought us to the auction house Drouot. Now I was the kid again, and both my daughter and I watched as my father examined paintings from the 18th century, taking them down off the wall to get a better look at the frames, the backings, the condition, and more. Watching a grandfather pass along his knowledge to his granddaughter was such a blessing, and as they discussed each piece, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for how travel does indeed broaden our horizons. My gratitude extended to my parents and to my daughter, both of whom were showing me new worlds, then further to encompass the beauty and richness available to us when we are lucky enough to be able to travel. I am so thankful that we can be back out in the world again after such a long hiatus!
One of the things that has always kept me sane is travel, and without it, well, cabin fever sets in. As much as travel can be demanding, it offers a change of scenery and a way to take my mind off of day-to-day stresses: it’s a reboot for my life! I am grateful to have traveled this year to the small town of Denmark, Maine, and to Denmark in Scandinavia. Both are lovely places graced by water, natural beauty, and wonderful people. And I recently discovered that Denmark, Maine was named, in 1807, as a show of solidarity with the country of Denmark.
I am thankful to have been given the chance to try different foods, enjoy a ton of people watching, walk for miles and miles (mostly without getting lost), practice my photography, and experience different cultures outside of the Boston area.
Going away allows me to appreciate all that home is: a place to be with my friends, family, neighbors, and pup. It also enables me to appreciate where I live, with easy access to the outdoors, good food, a strong democracy (mostly), walking safely at night, opportunities at work, and most importantly, the community I helped create.
This year my heart is full of gratitude for the many new adventures that presented themselves. Last spring, I took my oldest daughter to various college campuses, to help her as she made the stressful decision of where she wanted to be for the next four years of her life. And once that decision was made, we took a four day road trip at the end of summer, just the two of us, to get her settled into her dorm room at Miami University in Ohio. Could we have shortened the trip? Of course, but I am so thankful to have had the chance to spend time with her and make a few more lasting memories before she headed off on her own.
As one daughter left for college, the other traveled to Greece to spend time with her grandparents and extended family. Such an amazing opportunity for a 14-year-old to experience another culture, and I am so grateful for the love and support from our family, here and abroad, that made this trip possible for her.
This past summer my family traveled to São Miguel, one of nine Portuguese islands between the U.S. and mainland Portugal. There’s a direct flight from Boston to São Miguel–four and a half hours–and when we landed, we knew we were somewhere special. We spent the next week eating just-caught seafood, swimming at the volcanic sand beaches, and dipping in the hot springs. We also took a walk with rescued donkeys, explored a family-owned traditional pottery, and went snorkeling in a caldera. It was hard to believe that a 40-by-9 mile island could contain such a bounty. My 10-year old daughter and I learned some Portuguese before we went, and everyone we communicated with was patient with our efforts.
This trip was a long time coming; we’d originally planned to go in the summer of 2020, but Covid happened. We rescheduled once, then again. When it seemed as if we’d actually go, I found myself daydreaming about getting away from my familiar surroundings. Being stuck in our bubbles had taken a toll on my whole family’s sense of well-being. As the week progressed, we relaxed more and more; eventually, we were making up silly stories, taking unplanned side trips, and laughing. A lot. It’s not exaggerating to say that this trip helped heal my family. I am so thankful for the jolt our time in a foreign place gave us, to allow us to let down our guard and be vulnerable. We’ve been home for months, but the benefits of travel remain with us.
On this Thanksgiving day, we at Liz & Ellie Local urge you to think about and appreciate the opportunities you've had this past year. We also want to recognize that for many Americans, Thanksgiving is a reminder of the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures. Many in our sphere will be attending National Day of Mourning events, either in person or online, like this one at Cole's Hill in Plymouth. However you observe Thanksgiving day, we hope it is meaningful and profound.
With warmth and gratitude,
Ellie, Liz, Stephanie, and Rebecca