Dec 31, 2011


I fondly remember my childhood Christmases as fun and leisurely. Christmas Eve day my mom would make her famous bread while I worked on a layered jello dessert. In the evening we would head over to the Moffetts for a night of fun in the company of good friends and family. When I was real little this also involved a visit from Santa and us kids trying to figure out which man attending the party was playing the part by first analyzing their shoes, followed by writing down a list of names and examining it and who was not in the room during Santa’s visit. This led to the hiring of a college student to play Santa for a few years until the novelty wore off completely for us “kids”. Back then it seemed like we stayed out late and the valley fog would be thick on our drive home that night. I’d be exhausted, yet couldn’t sleep anticipating the morning’s surprises.

Even after I knew there was no Santa Claus, I had a hard time sleeping past 8 AM. My parents and I would get up and as they made their morning coffee, we’d open stockings followed by all the other gifts under the tree. Sometimes we’d make breakfast and sometimes we’d just snack on Bonnie’s delicious cookies. But once presents were opened and the wrappings picked up, what I remember most fondly were the naps and quiet day leading up to a meal prepared by my mom with a family member or a few friends coming over for dinner that evening. Dinner would be served early and end before it was too late, where I’d settle back into a nice Christmas dream.

All this seems so long ago especially when I think of how crazy recent Christmases have been with lots of driving back and forth between families and friends. My mom hasn’t stopped making her bread and we still attend the Moffett’s Christmas Eve party when we can, but I have not been able to take the Christmas Day nap in quite a few years, finding myself in the car travelling from one place to the next, socializing in between.

All the recent Christmas craziness is what prompted Cameron and I to take a year off and head to Vegas several years ago (ok, so he had ulterior motives and also planned on proposing - we all know how that ended :) but we agreed then that every other year we would do only what we wanted to do. The next off year that came along, my dad had just had surgery, so I flew to Tucson to be with him and my mom while Cameron spent the holiday going between his family.

This year happened to be our next off year, and we decided to spend it in Tucson with my parents, agreeing that this will likely be the last Christmas we spend away from our home, given that London will be able to grasp the concept of Christmas and Santa by next year. She did begin to grasp the concept that fun new toys are wrapped in the shiny paper when we opened presents at home the day after Christmas when we got home. By the end, she was tearing through the paper at our prompting.

Any hoo, on Wednesday evening Cameron and London picked me up from work and we went straight to the airport. Thanks to the Family line, we breezed through security and enjoyed a nice dinner thanks to Jack’s Urban Eats. We also ran into an old college classmate of mine who we learned recently moved to Sacramento with her fiancĂ©. After exchanging numbers and promising to be in touch, we boarded our flight. Then, after a planned hour layover plus an additional 30-minute delay in LA, we finally made it to Tucson around midnight. London wouldn’t sleep a wink until the wheels literally touched down in Tucson.

Our first day in Tucson was spent catching up with my parents and being lazy, including our first glorious nap. Cameron and I also discovered the benefits of a gel foam mattress pad, which my mom had on the spare bed. Cameron and I got some of the best nights and naps of sleep sleeping on this little piece of heaven! So much so that we bought one for our bed at Costco the day we got home!

Thursday night we paid homage to my dad’s family and celebrated the 3rd night of Hanukkah, lighting the candles on the menorah and eating potato latkes. Yum!

Friday was our big day out, with my parents treating us to a trip to Tucson’s Reid Zoo. In acreage, I’d say it’s a little smaller than Sacramento, but when it comes to animal offerings, it’s a bit more impressive. Highlights included the Giraffes as you wouldn’t believe how close we got to them; the white Rhino, who looked like a pile of rocks at first; the mama lion and her 3 adorable cubs; the leopards, one of which was roaring up a storm when we were looking in; and the white peacock, actually all the different peacocks and their beautiful colors. It was pretty impressive just how close we could get up to most of the and really gain an understanding of their size and power.

Even though it was a Christmas Eve away from the Moffetts, it did remind me of Christmas Eves past, starting with when I woke up to the doughy smell of my mom’s bread. Of course, that was until I walked out to the kitchen where London was kneading her own piece of bread dough! She was quite the little baker that day, as we also made sugar cookies. I can see this being a tradition for her and I, with the possibility of leaving some out for Santa next year. We made the best of the evening, inviting several of my parent’s neighbors and friends over for an impromptu dinner of appetizers, Swedish meatballs (my grandma Ruth’s recipe) and corn chowder. At the height of the evening there were 11 of us celebrating.

Christmas day was definitely as low key as I remember it from years past. Cameron, London and I all took a good 2 ½ hour nap after opening our stockings and a few presents that morning. We’d all said the focus was being together this year since we’d just had our big Disneyland trip and we didn’t want to worry about taking much back home with us. Dinner was prepared not just by my mom this year, but combined the efforts of my dad and Cameron, too. The main event included a prime rib that at one point we feared was toast after a mishap on the grill. In the end, it was saved and was quite delicious, just a little crusty on the outside. My mom complimented the prime rib with a nice salad, my traditional layered jello (which we had forgotten to serve the night before), mom’s bread(of course) and some yummy mashed potatoes and gravy.

London had a grand time having full run of my parent’s house, something she doesn’t have at home, still. She couldn’t get enough of playing on Grandpa’s piano, climbing up on the black bench every chance she got. And knowing it would be hard to bring home a keyboard for her, he gifted London the money to get a keyboard to play with back home. I know it won’t be like playing Grandpa’s, but the girl does love to tickle the keys.

London was also enchanted by my parent’s cat, Mocha. Mocha isn’t exactly the friendliest of kitties. It takes multiple treat bribes over a few days for her to not hiss and swat at me when I come near. London was good and kept her distance, but every time she saw Mocha she would wave and say hi. By the end Mocha did let London pet her twice and let me hold her a few times.

Overall it was a nice and relaxing holiday, just what Cameron and I needed. Now I just need to mail my parents main present to them – it hadn’t fit in my suitcase and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to carry it on so we left it behind. Probably should have mailed it to begin with, but I didn’t finish it until the day before we left. Oh well, I know they’ll love it and it will be quieter at the shipping store now.

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