Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving in California

Last Monday, November 24th at 3:30 PM we were officially on vacation and headed to California for the Thanksgiving holiday. The bags were checked and we passed security and waited for the first of two planes that would take us off to sunny California. We touched down in Oakland at 10:03 PM, collected our bags, took the shuttle to pick up our rental car, and arrived at my mother’s by 11:45 PM. The chick was back in the nest.

Tuesday Larry and I slept in and took a leisurely stroll through the grocery store. Just the necessities. Ha ha! Buy one, get one, so why wouldn’t we? The cart grew fuller and we had aisles to go. I’m sure this won’t be the last trip grocery shopping trip we make.

Kelly called while we were shopping and she was on her way to Costco in Vegas. She wanted to know if we had bought a certain item for her for Christmas because if I hadn’t she was going to buy it for herself. I had to reveal that yes we bought the item and then she wanted to know the color. She called back several minutes later to say Costco was out of the item and I could have kept my secret after all. Of course she hates secrets and tries everything she can to figure out what we buy her each year. This was probably the sneakiest. Send her a package for Christmas or birthday and you can be sure she will open it early. No surprises and waiting for this child.

Jim and Heather came down for dinner and mom made spaghetti and meatballs with homemade peach cobbler. Mary came and made her special French bread spread.

It had been three months since I had seen my son and Heather laughed when I hugged him saying that I wasn’t going to let go. I told her when I got my mom-hug in I would let him breath. Jim is on duty Thanksgiving Day so we won’t be able to share dinner with us on Thursday. It’s not the day but the time you spend with loved ones that counts. Jim has worked every holiday since joining the force. He likes his shift, his partner, his days off, and loves his job. Miss Heather cooked him a Thanksgiving dinner before he went off to work and then spent and afternoon in the barn with her beloved horses. Shortly after Jim arrived at work he found out he had the day off but it was too late to make the journey down to my mom’s so he went off to the barn to relax and watch Heather work the horses.

Jim will come down again in a couple of weeks when my brother Jerry and my sister-in-law arrive in California from Arkansas for Christmas. Jim always brings his empty jelly jars when he comes to grandma’s house because he knows she will always send him home with a new supply of jelly, cobbler or pie. Heather doesn’t really eat sweets so he doesn’t have to share with her and he can savor the treats slowly and all to himself. I bet he had cobbler for breakfast the next morning, if he is anything like his mother and Uncle Jerry.

After everyone had left except Mary, I gave her an early Christmas present that I had made for her. A garland of paper baby doll dresses and one baby boy overall to represent each of her grandchildren.

Wednesday brought a much needed soft rain that fell all day long. Parts of California have already been declared droughts and unless there is a significant rainfall, and more importantly a wet snowfall, the whole state will be facing drought conditions in the coming months. Larry and I went to Mimi’s to pick up dinner and then Mary took me to a Thanksgiving evening concert given by Justin McRoberts. Justin is the son of Mary’s friend Cathy and he is a contemporary Christian singer, www.justinmcroberts.com and is a spokesperson for Compassion, www.compassion.com Justin will do his 7th annual concert next week to benefit my sister’s holiday program--Christmas for Everyone. CFE is expecting to feed over 4,000 people this year due to the economy.

One cup, two cups, we’re ready for the turkey. Mom made rolls and got the cornbread dressing ready and Larry prepared the turkey. Everything was baking and the smells from the kitchen were wonderful. This was wonderful for me because of my allergies I don’t always smell what is baking or cooking. Larry and I slipped out to go find a paper with all the black Friday ads that all of us would pour over later in the evening. Easier said than done. Sold out; Sold out. Finally a liquor store with one last copy. It was ours and we were on our way home.

The turkey had disappeared
And the pie had been served
Now it was down to business
The plotting and planning
The black Friday ads
Who had the best deals?
And what did we want
Because in reality
We didn’t need a thing
We narrowed it down
The final choices
Now it was time
Facing the facts
We’re older and smarter
And the stores open earlier
Not at 7 or 6
But 4 AM!
When would we get up?
To get to the store
Standing in line
Waiting for the doors to open
The deals weren’t looking so good
And the bed was winning out
The tryptophan set in
We could go a little later
How about 1 PM
That’s after the coffee
A hot shower
And breakfast
Maybe next year
We’ll get up at 2
Or just stay up and go

So with the big decision made to skip the morning sales, we sat down to play canasta till one o’clock in the morning. Much more sensible.

Larry and I took a trip to McGuires Harley-Davidson in Walnut Creek. What I found and wanted didn’t come in my size so Larry got off easy without spending a cent. We looked at the bike inventory, a mustard yellow and black/gray metal flake that was totally unique and a show room stopper. A custom mica flake, red, orange paint job that seemed to change colors as we walked around it. Pretty bikes, but nothing that made us want to trade in the red vixen.

Turkey sandwiches and Mary and I were finally ready to shop. It was two o’clock and plenty of time left to find a bargain. Lots of deals at the mall but not enough to entice us to buy anything. Back to mom’s for dinner and we were off for part II. We wound up at Wal-Mart shopping for Christmas for Everyone and walked in and found coats, thirty-eight coats still on the rack. We grabbed the coats and I found a second cart. We scouted the spinner racks the go back carts and checked in with all the clerks. Mary called her friend Syd and he went to the Vallejo Wal-Mart and called back and said he had more coats and to come quickly. We dropped our load off and headed from Martinez to Vallejo. What a surprise when we walked in and saw Sid standing guard over seven shopping carts piled high with warm winter coats. Another phone call to Mary’s friend Sandy to bring a truck. All in all, Mary bought two hundred and three coats that she will give away Christmas day. Great, I said, now all you need is another 3,797 more gifts and you will be ready in three weeks. She dropped me back at mom’s at 2 AM Friday morning. Okay we did the black Friday shopping but at least we got to sleep-in first.

Saturday morning Larry and I took a drive through the Napa Valley wine country with the sun shinning down on the vineyards that were full of leaves in autumn colors of gold, red, and purples. The holiday crowds were non existent and it made the valley much more enjoyable. We stopped at the Freemark Abbey and the Silverado Brewing Company to have lunch. I had crab cakes with corn relish and spinach salad with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Larry had calamari and chicken brochette. We drove up highway 29, through St. Helena, Calistoga, down the Silverado Trail, up to Lake Berryessa, Mankas Corner, and back to my mom’s. Larry fixed a prime rib roast for dinner and mom had a blackberry cobbler for dessert. No turkey leftovers tonight. Two great chefs under one roof.

Larry and I attended church with mom at Bethel Baptist and we had lunch at the Buttercup Pantry. Larry cut the leftover prime rib into steaks and cooked for mom and Mary. I was content to eat my mom’s Chinese chopped noodle salad with garlic bread and enough room left for cobbler.

A week goes by way too fast and we left for the airport with a Tully fog closing in on the bay area. We gassed up the car and returned it then caught the next shuttle for the airport. All checked in I left Larry reading a book on his Kindle reader and I took a walk to see the art exhibits on display.

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