[From the First Balcony]

Over Thanksgiving, as many do, I spent time traveling to see the extended family. My mother’s side of the family met up at my aunt and uncle’s house in Des Moines, just as we had the year before (but I was working, so it was the first time I’d been to the house since they moved in). It was a pretty small gathering; only about 30 people were able to come.

The house was full, nonetheless. There was plenty of food and wine, and, of course, there was also plenty of beer and football. (We — meaning my cousins and I — were overruled about the merits of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade over football.)

Between two full meals, a few glasses of wine, and catching up on family gossip, I’d say the day was a rousing success. It certainly worked for me. But what I was waiting for most eagerly was what came the day after.

Here’s a hint: It wasn’t Black Friday shopping (although I did do a little of that, albeit much later in the morning than the majority of shoppers). My cousins and I ventured out to Wal-Mart and Target to peruse the DVD/TV sections, and nabbed a few things to watch later. But that wasn’t the highlight of the day.

Still curious?

I recently became a hockey fan. And by that, I mean that I got sucked in (and then dove into research headfirst and now follow it pretty closely) this year. As of 2016, I’d finally picked a sport of which to be a fan.

But, to paraphrase my uncle, it’s hard to be a hockey fan in Nebraska.

So, naturally, when one has a hockey fan for a cousin (ahem, Mark) who happens to live in Minnesota, you go visit them and catch an NHL game at the same time. And it just happened to work out that his team (the Minnesota Wild) and one of the teams I follow (the Pittsburgh Penguins) were playing each other the day after Thanksgiving in St. Paul, Minnesota.

How convenient. I just happened to be in the Twin Cities that weekend, right?

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We obtained tickets, had my uncle drop the two of us off at Excel Arena, and had a blast. Sadly, the Pens lost, 6-2. (Mark was happy. I was less happy, but still thrilled to have been to my first game). Because the Wild scored six goals, however, gas was 30 cents off per gallon (which helped me immensely on my drive home two days later).

I spent the rest of Thanksgiving weekend eating leftovers, crashing on my parents’ couches, and meeting up with friends from high school, which was lovely. Sometimes it’s nice to spend a low-key weekend away from home (and seeing friends and family is always a bonus in my book).

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