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According to a May 2013 U.S. News & World Report article, Americans spend more than $60 billion annually on their four-legged family members. It comes as no surprise, then, that traveling with pets is rising –- and hotels are responding by offering pet amenities to make their four-legged guests feel welcome, too. Be it Love Your Pet Day or any other day, these four American hotels take dotting on your doggie to the next level.
I used to hate Christmas.
Christmas was not a happy time in the McLachlan household. A holiday that emphasized the joys of family did not go over well with a group of people who couldn't stand each other. Gifts were grudgingly given and indifferently received. The turkey was consumed in edgy silence. The worst of it all was that everyone was expected to paste on smiles and pretend they were having a great time.
That all changed when I spent my first Christmas away from home, in 1993. I had just started a year crossing Asia, and mid-December found me in Cappadocia, Turkey.
When I was young, I was a stickler for Christmas traditions. If my father forgot to wear the Santa Claus hat, I pouted. If we didn't watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," I cried. If hot cocoa wasn't served with breakfast, I was capable of a four-star conniption. Dinner was roast goose or Yorkshire pudding -- any substitutions and I about lost my mind.
By all accounts, I wasn't actually a difficult child, but when I was 10 we moved from New Hampshire to Arizona, and I didn't adjust well. I missed our farmhouse and my friends, and I clung to these annual rituals because they made our new house feel like a home. And then I continued clinging, for 20 more years, until the Christmas I learned to let go.
As a single working mother of twins in the '70s, my mother planned meals based on available coupons and recipes that had no more than four steps; if they could be prepared in fewer -- freezer to microwave to table -- that was even better. Thanksgiving dinner was no exception.
In my family, as in many families around the U.S., Thanksgiving has always been a day to gather with loved ones and celebrate family and home. So when I moved from Connecticut and began to raise a family in California three decades ago, my parents would often cross the country to celebrate the holiday with us. Eight years ago, when this trip became too difficult for them, I reversed the route to celebrate with them in Connecticut.
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