I know, Thanksgiving was last week. Sometimes the days just slip by too fast.
This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in San Diego on Tuesday. I cooked the entire meal in my Grandma’s kitchen, it was bliss. I had a few moments where I felt her watching – like when I cut my finger and walked around for 30 minutes with a paper towel wrapped around it because I was too distracted to get a bandaid.
I made most of the meal from scratch – cranberry sauce, green bean and artichoke casserole, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with parsnips. Some of it was from a can – plain ol’ corn and crescent rolls. The turkey cooked to juicy perfection in the new electric roaster. I also made a pumpkin cake for dessert, that was both loved and hated. I stuffed myself silly and basked in the love that is family, it was a wonderful day.
Then were got to celebrate again in Orange County on Thursday. Leia helped in the kitchen. I made rum balls. Leilani made not one but two fantastic turkeys. A bunch of friends and family came with a ton of side dishes and desserts. So I stuffed myself again, and felt thankful for all the wonderful people Leia gets to call family.
I am thankful…
For my beautiful, silly, smart, creative, entertaining two year old. You love painting your nails, playing hide and seek, giving big hugs, putting bandaids on stuffed animals and kissing them better, pretending we are characters from your favorite cartoons, singing with your eyes closed, and dancing with your whole heart. Leia Olivia you are my biggest joy this year and every year.
I am healthy and strong. I don’t get sick often, and neither does Leia. I have money to buy good food that nourishes our bodies. I have the opportunity (thanks Mom) to spend time at the gym for my physical and mental well-being. I plan on using this body for a very long time so I need to take care of it.
My family is close, literally and figuratively. My brother can call me regularly, and I got to visit him this year.
For the two cats that take up a ton of room on the bed, on my lap, cry for treats and at the door to get out. My fuzzy little kids, life would not be the same without you.
The friendships I rely on to navigate my parenting journey. The friendships that grow closer over the years from shared experiences. The friendships I know will always be there regardless of distance or time spent apart.
For our military, past and present. For their families that share the burden of their service so we can enjoy our everyday lives.
There are so many people to share memories of my Dad and Grandparents with. It keeps their spirit alive when I miss them terribly.
This year we celebrated Halloween with our mom group. Chelle’s family turned their house into party central with delicious food and festive decorations. We even managed to get (almost) all the kids posed for a picture! Getting a big group of us together always reminds me how meaningful these friendships are, for Leia and myself. The neighborhood was perfect for trick or treating. Compared to last year, Leia realized knocking on a door and saying “trick or treat” resulted in candy. She practiced saying “trick or treat” and “happy halloween” all day. My normally shy kid was bursting with excitement all night, pointing out spooky ghosts and witches, running alongside her friends, shouting “yay! more houses!” I loved watching her experience trick or treating the way I did as a child – in a neighborhood asking strangers for candy on their doorsteps.
The day after Halloween, my Mom watched Leia so I could go to a Chargers game with Rachel and Pina. We only make it to one game a year because the tickets are so expensive, even for the “bird’s eye view” section, ha. Parking is $25. Beers are $9 ($11 if you want an import). Madness! So the girls met at my place and we filled up on pizza, cakepops, and a few drinks before walking to the game. The Chargers won, breaking a two game losing streak. It was a great girls night out. I lost my ID, which is a bummer. I’m not sure where it fell out of my pocket, but I’m hoping some good samaritan puts it in the mail.
This morning I ran the Color Run 5k with Becca. My Mom reminded me I could use my passport in lieu of my lost ID to pick up my registration packet, whew! She brought Leia and they watched from the sidelines. It was a huge event! It took us at least 30 minutes to get through the starting line. The crowd was fun and energetic, we got covered in colored dust. I kept my goal of “no walking” and ran the whole way, except a stop to get water. At the end of 3 miles, I’m definitely done, so I don’t see a longer run in my near future. But these fun runs are great! I’m hoping to sign up for the Electric Run next.
There isn’t one.
At least once a day I see someone’s status update on Facebook say something about how they’re annoyed that it’s not okay to say Merry Christmas anymore. Really?
Last time I checked Christmas is still everywhere. It’s the focal point holiday of the season. There is no shortage of Christmas anything – cards, decorations, trees, gifts! When has it ever been “not okay” to wish someone a Merry Christmas? Show me the person who responds to Merry Christmas with “Hey, actually I’m Agnostic/Jewish/(insert belief) and I’d prefer a Happy Holidays/Happy Hanukkah/(insert holiday) instead.” Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you’d probably smile, reciprocate a greeting and go about your day. I see far more people getting bent out of shape about being told Happy Holidays because their personal beliefs aren’t being catered to, whether they represent the majority or not. Now that doesn’t seem to be in the Christmas spirit.
Happy Holidays isn’t a watered down version of Merry Christmas, it’s not a replacement for Christmas, it encompasses Christmas – and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (I need to meet someone who actually celebrates this). Happy Holidays is a general statement of good wishes during this time of the year. If you celebrate Christmas – sing it from the rooftops to everyone you meet. If someone says Happy Holidays in return, try not to be a bitter old scrooge and appreciate that someone wishes you well in return.
“Don’t tell me what to celebrate, stop trying to censor Christmas!” Just because your bank hangs a sign up that says Happy Holidays, or your work throws a “Holiday” party instead of a “Christmas” party, no one is taking away your freedom to celebrate Christmas. If I go to Target and the sign above the seasonal aisle says Happy Holidays, does that really mean I’m being forced to celebrate or believe in something else? There’s a War on Christmas because corporations default to saying Happy Holidays to speak to a wider demographic? I don’t understand how a general greeting that embraces the variety of religious and non-religious celebrations this time of year spits in the face of a Christian holiday. Head to Hallmark and look at the cards, there’s no shortage of cards that say Merry Christmas, even if the section is called “Holiday Cards” – the two aren’t exclusive!
Before I step off my soapbox I want to add that I’m not a Christian, but I was raised Catholic and celebrated Christmas every year. I will raise Leia to celebrate Christmas. I’m sure her Grandmas will take her to church and read her stories about Jesus to teach her the history of Christmas. Meanwhile I will continue to observe the holiday in the more religion neutral, slightly commercialized sense. We’ll decorate a tree, bake the cookies, watch the movies, open a few presents. We’ll spend the weeks leading up to the 25th hanging lights, avoiding crowded malls, sitting by a fireplace, spending time with family and friends. I’ll teach her to give back to those who need more than us. Most importantly, we’ll soak up the general spirit of goodwill and cheer that makes this time of the year so special. We’ll make memories and traditions for her to look forward to. I’ll greet people with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and hope that they embrace as a warm gesture without picking apart the linguistics.
Christmas on the Prado, as it used to be called, was one of my favorite things as a kid. San Diego’s kick off to the holidays. I loved drinking hot cocoa and walking around to look at all the lights, the big tree, the reindeer and a sleigh full of presents taking off by the organ pavilion. Like all kids, I was totally unaffected by the crowd around me. Where can we park? Do you see the kids? Can you maneuver the stroller? Not my problem, ask my Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad.
Now that I’m the Mom, it sucks. I’m not new to the party, I know the crowds are insane. They anticipate something like 300,000 people to attend and it only runs two nights. Last year I remember being slightly annoyed for having to drive for 20 minutes to find a spot, and push a young baby in a stroller around. I think I wore her most of the time, she slept, I ate a falafel sandwich, admired the lights, listened to some music and the night was good.
This year? Complete epic fail. I prepared myself, knowing 163 was going to be a mess I took the 15 to University and headed to Park Blvd from the East. Traffic was moving fine til I the light to turn onto Park. Not bad, figure we’ll (we = Myself, my Mom, and Leia) sit in some traffic driving down Park and pay for a spot in one of the preferred parking lots off site. I’m totally willing to throw down $10 or $20 for a spot.
It takes me 15 minutes to get from my house to University and Park. If I saw a spot on a side street I’d gladly grab it and walk the rest of the way. No such luck. It takes 30 minutes swamped in traffic to go maybe 1/2 mile to the zoo parking lot. Leia is screaming her head off so I drop her and my Mom and the stroller off. My plan is to head down to the lots at City College or Petco and take the shuttle up. My gas gauge says empty, but that really means I’ve got another gallon or two so I ignore it. Paid lots just outside the park are all “full” – I say full in quotes because I saw random open spots, they just weren’t letting anyone in. Now had I been following @DecemberNights on my phone I would have known this ahead of time. I also would have avoided the next headache.
It takes me another 45 minutes to drive 1/2 mile down Park, turn on C, drive down to 16th, head up to the College lot….and it’s full. They are redirecting people back to Park to try Petco or the County building. My car is past empty. I get out of line and stop for gas at Shell and I get an idea! I’ll go park at Horton Plaza and take a taxi. Then at the end of the night I’ll taxi back to my car and bring it to pick up Grammy and Leia. Drive towards Horton Plaza, but it’s a mess. I guess I wasn’t the only one with that idea. I’ve now been driving for over 2 hours since leaving my house. Phone calls to my mom let me know it’s packed too tight for the stroller or to let Leia run around on her own (which is what she prefers). They sat and ate some sandwich from a vendor, and now she’s about to fall asleep in the stroller.
I give up and head north on Park to pick them up. I’m hungry, I’m tired, I’ve over it. I know I wouldn’t want to battle the crowd after sitting in the car this long. I wonder if it would have been easier to take the trolley and walk a few miles, or park in Hillcrest and take a taxi (scratch that, I don’t want to taxi with Leia and the BOB). I think it would have been a nightmare either way, it was just way too crowded this year. I know this sounds lame, but I SWEAR it was not this bad last year. Where do these people come from?!
It takes me another 30 minutes to pick them up. Leia doesn’t even wake up when I take her out of the stroller and put her in the car seat. Looks like we’ll be enjoying the lights during the week when everyone else is at home. I’ll bring my own hot cocoa and Leia can run around like the wild child she is and we’ll both enjoy ourselves.
I love the Yule Log show, I play it at least 5 times a day. I miss having a fireplace (or not? cleaning + fire safety sounds tiring to be honest), but it’s still cozy at home tonight. My lights are up up, a pine scented Yankee candle is burning, I’m enjoying a cup of tea on the couch, listening to holiday music. Life is good 🙂