I’ve been traveling to southern California to spend Thanksgiving with Wilson’s family for 16 years. My brother, cousin, and two close friends live in LA, so Eli and I went a few days ahead of Wilson, who stayed behind with Jacob and Aden so they wouldn’t miss too much school.
The weather was stellar– 78 and sunny every day– so we took advantage, taking a swim and soaking in the rooftop pool view at the Sixty Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Not too shabby.
I also managed to do some retail damage at Fred Segal in West Hollywood with mom (sweatshirt for Eli, silk top and boots for me)…..
…. and hike Runyon Canyon with my bro and our friends, Cindy and Jett.
Jett and Eli had a strong connection. Look at these two cuties….
We had lunch with my friend Julie at favorite eatery Jones on Third and if the curry chicken salad and homemade lemonade were not enough, we had a celebrity sighting: Will Arnett, with some hot young thing.
I had to pretend to take a pic of my bro and Eli to get this silly shot:
Then we packed it up and headed down south to Orange County to meet up with Wilson’s family. We stay at Wilson’s Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Ron’s house, which manages to sleep 14 people and a minimum of four dogs. We’re a close family, but there’s something to be said for personal space and this week, that was in demand.
There’s also really only one TV available so since the family is overrun with testosterone, football is on 24/7 for the entirety of our stay. By end-week, I was Jonesing for a visit with the Bravermans, the Pritchetts, or the Goldbergs.
We’ve developed certain reliable OC traditions: spending a day in Disneyland, eating baked ziti and sausages the night before the holiday, running to the grocery story no less than 8 times in two days, and staying up Thanksgiving night drinking lots of wine, gossiping and belly laughing til the wee hours.
Disneyland was definitely a highlight of the trip this year. It was gorgeous weather and Wilson’s brother got us all free park hopper tickets, so we could do Disneyland and California Adventure. We arrived at the park around 10am and stayed until 8pm, crushing all our favorite rides. We had fast passes from last year so we never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride.
Wilson’s brother recently got engaged, and his fiancé (whom I’ll call BB for blushing bride) had not experienced our family Disneyland routine. We like the roller coasters, and we don’t take no for an answer without a doctor’s note.
It was fun witnessing her indoctrination, especially since she doesn’t particularly care for roller coasters. But she got sprayed on Splash Mountain.
Toughed out the drops on Thunder Mountain…
And avoided snakes and a giant careening boulder on Indiana Jones’ Adventure. We screamed and laughed, while white-knuckling the safety bars all the way down.
I don’t particularly care for Space Mountain as it gives me vertigo and nausea, but I knew if I opted out, BB wouldn’t go. So I took one for the team. While I hated the ride, I loved hearing BB screaming invective behind me, while the cousins laughed with glee.
“Make it STOP!” When’s it gonna be over?!!” “I DON’T like it!!”
Good times. Reminded me of my Space Mountain initiation several years ago. It’s a rite of passage.
We took it down a few notches and headed over to Small World. Every night at 5:15pm when the sun sets, the park turns on all the lights on the Small World castle and even the least sentimental in our crowd oohed and ahhhed.
We finished the day off at California Adventure Park with the Cars ride (based on the movie) which quickly became a favorite.
You slowly tour a realistic looking desert in a swanky convertible, before the ride revs up to a car race through a bumpy canyon. Really fun.
Aunt Ruthie makes an outstanding Thanksgiving feast, including two turkeys (one roasted, one deep-fried) three kinds of potatoes and many sides and sinful desserts. My pants were bursting but I couldn’t stop. I only get creamed corn once a year!
After dinner, we sat outside on the patio drinking wine and playing Heads Up. To say we laughed really doesn’t do it justice. Belly-aching, snort-inducing guffaws. Uncle Ron counted 17 empty bottles of wine for 16 adults.
After one last glorious day of sunshine, running, leftovers, more football and laughing, we headed home Friday night.
Reentry is always tough after this trip. No family is perfect, but we manage to have fun no matter the circumstances. I’m thankful for that!
What are your holiday traditions? Tell me in the comments.