Growing up in New York, when I think of Thanksgiving, my mind takes me to a season filled with cozy fires, warm, woolen sweaters, the aroma of hot cider and the colorful turning of leaves. Add to this, a large, Italian family who gathered each year around the table, opting for turkey instead of lasagna.

Yes, we were grateful. Fast forward 12 years ago when I moved to Sarasota and I find myself grateful once again, but for different reasons that I never fathomed in contrast to growing up in the Northeast.

Here in Sarasota and the entire Gulf Coast, Thanksgiving looks quite different from the rest of the country. While the North sees cold and windy weather, Floridians are still basking in the sunlight and hanging out at the beach or the pool. The autumn season doesn’t exist here. But gratitude prevails.

Top Five Reasons to Be Grateful in Sarasota at Thanksgiving:

  1. We can feast al fresco. We can enjoy open-air dining at any number of restaurants that have outdoor seating. The traditional American image of Thanksgiving depicts families gathered around a table inside a dining room. Here in Florida, you’ll find men in flip flops and shorts and women in pink flamingo dresses gathered around a table outdoors. 79 degree November weather is the norm here. Who wants to be indoors?
  2. Deep Fried Turkey – It’s the rage of the south. If you live in a warm state like Florida, the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking a turkey inside your house when it’s already hot outside. A great solution for this problem is deep frying the turkey in your backyard. And it takes a fraction of the time. Three to four  minutes per pound and a 20 pound bird is ready to eat in under an hour and a half!
  3. Dessert Bonus: If pumpkin pie isn’t to your liking, Florida’s known for their key lime pies. And don’t forget Sarasota’s Yoder’s Country Market offers a variety of pies including Thanksgiving classics to coconut cream pies!
  4. Chill out and drink! The typical Thanksgiving beverage rotation usually includes a rich red wine, hot apple cider, or even creamy eggnog. But here in Florida, we like to keep our drinks cool and refreshing while enjoying the ocean breeze. Coconut water, Pina Colada, sangria, and margaritas are some of the best options.
  5. After Your Feast. Relax at the Beach! After consuming a large Thanksgiving feast, most Americans  watch football, take a nap, or smoke cigars. Here, you could lay on the beach and let the food coma take over, or watch the unsurpassed gulf coast sunsets.

Gratitude. A Reason for the Season.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that we are thankful for. Here in Florida, we have much to be grateful for: from our beautiful beaches and glorious weather to the kindness of locals and all the nonprofits who reach out to the needy to help during the holiday season (and beyond). Even during tough times like this hurricane season – one of the worst on record – we’ve have always remain positive and continue to support each other. One of the best ways we can celebrate Thanksgiving this year is by showing extra appreciation for everything (and everyone) in our lives who help make Florida such a special place. Say “thank you” to those in the service industry, or healthcare arena.

Next article: Where to eat on Thanksgiving Day in Sarasota