One of my favorite traditions was spending Thanksgiving in Sacramento with family. My mom, dad, brother and I would hit the road at 5AM in our mini van packed with dufflebags, pillows, blankets, cd’s and snacks! I can still remember my brother and I fighting over who’s turn it was to pick a cd, eating mom’s ham and cheese sandwiches she’d thoughtfully made for breakfast, and rotating shifts to stretch out in the back seat for a nice hour-long nap.
After 6 or 7 hours on the road, eventually we’d arrive at our aunt and uncle’s home, greeted by the rest of our family (most of whom also made the drive up north), excited to be together. We’d settle in and bro and I would play with our younger cousins as they piled on top of us screaming and laughing. I loved every minute. We’d freshen up, get ready for dinner and have the feast of all feasts, every year bigger and better than the one before. And with bellies full of delicious homemade EVERYTHING, the uncles and dads would take naps, aunts and moms would chat and the kids prepped the games. We’d all gather in the living room decked out in our pjs and cozy sweaters, for a night filled with laughs over who looks more ridiculous acting out their Charades. I never wanted those nights to end.
The next day, we’d make the drive to our favorite apple farm, spending a few hours taking photos, soaking in the beauty of it all, drinking fresh cider and go fishing at the man-made lake. We couldn’t leave until everyone caught a fish and took a photo as proof. We’d head back home and the cousins would all go out to watch the latest installment of the Harry Potter series, loading up on popcorn, soda and candy.
On our last night together, my family always remembered to celebrate my birthday with cake and decorations. I remember, when I turned 18, they made it really special by writing reasons they loved me on note cards and had me read them out loud.
I loved those Thanksgiving weekends with my family filled with lots of laughter, fun, food and best of all– love.
Those were simple and happy times; some of the happiest memories I’ve ever had. And even though it’s been years since our last Thanksgiving in Sacramento, I’m thankful for those years of happy memories. Of course, my family still gets together, but time passes and change is inevitable. It may not be an entire weekend with 15 people sharing 2 bathrooms, and all the cousins cozying up on the living room floor to sleep at Tita Cora’s and Tito Karl’s house, but it’s still filled with lots of laughter, homemade everything, and most important of all… Love.
As time moves forward and our family grows, I look forward to new traditions and happy memories. I am so lucky and so blessed to have the special family tradition of Thanksgivings in Sacramento to look back on.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?