We had the busiest Christmas holiday in a long time. It was a walk down memory lane.
Since it’s so rare for the whole family to get together, we packed as many activities as we could. Literally, as soon as my brother arrived from California, we went right to the movie theater to watched Avatar 2 in 3D as a siblings outing. I haven’t seen a 3D movie since college over a decade ago.
We opened Christmas presents on the 24th, since the 25th would be a busy day with guests coming. This was the first year Izzy could participate in Christmas, and she gleefully unwrapped all the presents and looked at Christmas lights around the neighborhood (Mickey Mouse decor was a hit).
My aunt, uncle, and cousins drove down from Dallas to meet Isabelle and Alanna and celebrate Christmas with us. I mostly have memories of my cousins as little girls, but they have grown up quickly with their fashion style, social media savviness, and boyfriends. We had a cousins day out at Six Flags theme park (I last went when I had just started medical school years ago). Mom and I also shopped at the San Marcos Outlet mall with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. When we were kids, my family used to come to the San Marcos Outlet every year on Black Friday, and it’s grown a lot since 15 years ago when I had last seen this outlet mall.
We took Izzy to the zoo for the animals and Christmas lights. Izzy was a little too young to fully appreciate the animals, so the zoo turned out to be more exciting for the adults than her. We also had Alanna baptized by a priest who’s known my dad for a long time; she had the cutest little white dress, knit bonnet, and knit booties.
We ended 2022 with the Carriker Cup, a family scramble golf tournament. We first played the Carriker Cup 18 years ago and used to compete annually until 6 years ago when I moved out of state for residency. A long time ago, we were all extremely good golfers and won the tournament! We’re a lot rustier now since we stopped golf competitions, and although we played terribly, it was still good family bonding (commiserating that we all sucked at putting).
The last few days was spent cleaning out the house like crazy, not only for New Years, but also since the carpet needed to be renovated. To our delight, our old 25+ year old Nintendo 64 and Playstation still worked. I was very pleased that I could still beat my siblings at the original Mario Kart. B and my siblings stayed up late to unlock a new Mario Kart Grand Prix level. We are all terribly uncoordinated at Dance Dance Revolution now, but we used to play on our dancepad all the time. I found so many sentimental cards, notes, artwork, memories from high school, college, medical school, and my wedding. I especially enjoyed reading letters/cards from my siblings when I was in college; I don’t think I appreciated how much they had missed me going away at the time.
My parents brought Izzy and Alanna to the neighborhood parks we went to as kids. Izzy also played with my childhood stuffed animals, from my giant Hello Kitty to my beanie babies, and slept in my childhood room. It’s surreal and bittersweet, and I felt sad thinking how much older we all are.
Of course, we ate plenty of food, from burgers (Hopdoddy, Whataburger) to fondue (the Melting Pot we’ve gone to for 15 years) to a hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant to all you can eat sushi. Dad and B also fired up the grill several times to make some good old fashioned Texas BBQ. Fun desserts were an amazing new Ukranian bakery with the most decadent cheesecake (Laika bakery) and boba (“The family that drinks boba together, stays together”). Sadly, we didn’t have time for baking, but that’s for another trip. (I baked these cookies while still in Seattle – recipe is adapted from Minimalist Baker)
At the end of the trip, I told Dad that I was glad he got to see my girls for Christmas at home. He told me he was happiest that he could see his little girl, me, at home!
Even if there’s another pandemic, I’ll make sure it won’t be years before I come home again. It’s been too long.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp natural peppermint extract
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 candy cane (crushed)
1/3 cup dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In another bowl, mix flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Chill int he fridge.