I love the holidays!
I love everything about them. The shopping, the deciding, the returning, the wrapping, the food, the gifts and yes, even the family.
Especially the family.
My family is insane. Really. They are nuts.
But that is what makes them SO! MUCH! FUN! They welcome everyone, whether they know you or not, and within 15 minutes will have you rolling on the floor in a puddle of your own pee because you are laughing so hard you think you just might die. And you would die with a smile on your face, so see? They’re awesome.
My family is big. My mom is the middle of 5 kids, all of whom now have their own spouses and children and pets and issues, and my dad is the oldest of 3 with all of the same. Take off the shoes. It’s ok. I know there is a lot of math to be done there.
Holidays in California were always spent with ALL of the family. Occasionally there would be an aunt/uncle/cousin group missing because they were Air Force or Navy and living in some exotic locale like the Philippines or Hawaii for the year and couldn’t come home. But usually there were all of us, crammed into my grandmother’s 3 bedroom house, with food EVERYWHERE and babies crying and drunk aunts laughing and uncles filling up water bed mattresses with air for the kids and dogs to jump on.
We even celebrated Veteran’s Day like this. I’m not lying even a little when I say that any excuse for my whole family to get together was one big freaking party.
So you can imagine how sad our first big holiday in Texas was. It was Thanksgiving and we had been in Houston for about 2 and half months. I remember feeling like our 4-person family was so small. So tiny. How would we be able to celebrate without everyone else?
My mom cooked like she normally did, which meant we had Thanksgiving leftovers for 5 months because she cooked for 37 people instead of just the 4 of us. The cooking of the food was always a big deal in our family. I remember everyone getting together at my grandma’s house the night before Thanksgiving and helping out and it being LOUD. There was laughing and singing and dancing and yelling and it was fantastic.
It was just too quiet that first year, on the night before Thanksgiving. My mom was cooking, using her mom’s recipes and trying so desperately not to cry into the sweet potatoes. Kevin and I were moping around, as usual, and my dad was trying to keep everyone’s spirits up by convincing us that a holiday without the rest of the family would be fun and new and exciting. As you would expect, these attempts at perking us up were met with A LOT of eye rolling and heavy sighs.
As a last ditch effort to pull us out of the funk we were all in my dad threw my new Santana single, Smooth, into the CD player and started dancing around with my mom. And she laughed and started dancing too. Kevin and I held out through the first rotation of the song, gaping at my mom and dad like they were crazy, but when we realized my dad had set it on repeat and turned it up even louder than before, we folded and started jamming out with them.
That night is my first real happy memory of Texas. And it still amazes me that it came out of a time when we were all so sad and lonely for our family in another place.
Every year, no matter where we are living at the time, my brother and I get home with enough time to help cook the night before. We put on Santana and dance around the kitchen and celebrate the fact that all 4 of us are together again. And for that, I am so thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Eat more than you should, drink until your nose goes numb, and love the hell out of your family.
Because really, everyone needs a little crazy in their lives to be grateful for.