"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Traveler's Christmas

Like Thanksgiving, this was my first Christmas away from home.  And also like Thanksgiving, my Christmas was full of friends, love, and new experiences.

I awoke to find that Santa had found me all the way in Santa Cruz!  Along with the stockings for all of their children and grandchildren, Heidi and Mike (my gracious hosts for most of December) had also filled a stocking for me.  And just like the ones I get back home, it included a toothbrush.  I guess parents are the same everywhere.

After a quick breakfast and stocking-opening, I shuffled cheerfully off to work a two-hour shift at the coffee shop.  My boss didn't require any of us to work and wasn't planning to be open, but he offered anyone who wanted to come in the opportunity to set our own hours, make good tips, and donate all of the profit for the day to a shared employee bonus fund.  It was lovely to see all of the smiling regulars with their families on Christmas!

The cafe on Christmas morning

Our overflowing tip jar
From work, I drove to my friend, Leslie's house for a fun, non-traditional Christmas girl's afternoon.  We had some of the most amazing Thai food I've ever eaten (I got yellow lamb curry) for lunch.  It was the first time I've been out to eat at a restaurant for about two months.  I bought.  It felt amazing.  I never realized how spoiled I was before.

Lunching ladies

Our original plan after lunch was to see a movie, but we opted last minute for the beach instead.  Since we had just finished receiving a huge storm over several days, the beach was strewn with piles of driftwood and kelp for miles.  There were families building structures on the sand in santa hats and people running barefoot in the cold water.  I can safely say I've never been to the beach on Christmas before.

Long shot of the shore (lighthouse in the distance)

Me running into the water

Finally, I returned to my host's home for Christmas dinner and game-playing with their extended family.  We had cheese fondue for an appetizer, then a pork roast, crab risotto, green beans, asparagus, and fresh-baked bread for dinner.  For dessert?  Cream puffs, peppermint chocolate cake, and more cookies, fudge, and popcorn than anyone will ever need.

Evan tasting the fondue

The family table

Evan and Laina identifying superheros with their nephew in his new book

I went to sleep with a smile on my face and a heart bursting with gratitude.  I missed my family very much, of course, but was glad to be the complete opposite of alone on this holiday.

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