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A California Christmas

california Christmas

Hello 2022! Does anyone else like the promise of a new year with new possibilities? It’s our first Monday in 2022, and it feels like a fresh start. I’m sitting here at my desk, with my cup of coffee (somethings never change) and feeling ready to take on the week. It’s going to take me a while to get back into the swing of things, because it feels like we’ve gone miles since I last checked my work email. But, I’ll find my rhythm eventually.

But, before I launch full speed into what my plans are for 2022, I have to share all about our California Christmas. My heart is full after seeing family, and we had a wonderful time in California to celebrate the holidays.

california Christmas

Aaron and I flew out Thursday afternoon. The airport was not nearly as crowded as it can tend to be during the holidays, which was equally a nice surprise and a sign of the times. The news about flight delays began the week leading up to Christmas, and I said all the prayers for smooth travels to and from. Our departing flight from Houston into Los Angeles was right on time, and we flew right into LAX and into some rain. Now, California desperately needs the rain, but I wasn’t prepared for how cold it was – since it’s been summer weather here in Houston.

california Christmas

My dad picked up from LAX, and we had about an hour drive to their house. They live in Ventura, which is about an hour north of Los Angeles. Flying west is really the best. You gain two hours, which means that you can sleep in the following morning, and it’s still relatively early when you wake up because you are still on Central Time, and you feel like a new person. Now, I haven’t seen my parents since last Thanksgiving, so it was nice to catch up. My mom is the best cook, and she had some homemade jalpeno poppers ready (Aaron’s favorite), some wine and some dinner. My dad had his festive cranberry margs ready for us as well!

Christmas Eve

The following day was Christmas Eve, which is when we always try to get together with the Taniguchi side of the family. It’s been that way ever since I was a little girl. We would do Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family, spend Christmas morning at home, and see my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Day. Since I got married, Aaron and I switch our major holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) between my family and his. That way, no one feels left out.

california Christmas

I don’t love wrapping gifts before I have to go through good ol’ TSA, so I sent packages directly to mom so I could wrap them there. I also carried on the items I had shipped directly to me. So, Christmas Eve morning, I had to get to work wrapping for my family and for my secret Santa on my dad’s side. Since all the kids are grown, we each draw one name, so we aren’t buying for everyone. I had my cousin, Allison, and Aaron got my Uncle Al. After I managed to wrap all my gifts, Aaron and I headed out for a quick walk down by the beach.

Christmas 2021

And, she delivered. There is just something about being near the water that causes me to reflect, and we try to walk or run near the water every visit. We got about 3 miles in, and we had to get home to get ready for our Christmas Eve celebration. That’s a whole lot of Taniguchi’s all in one place. We were missing a couple of people this year, two of my cousins and their significant others and one of my uncles and his girlfriend. And when we get together, it’s loud – and it’s funny.

california Christmas

I finally got to meet my cousin Melissa’s boyfriend. I loved him. She’s been talking him up big, so it was nice to finally meet him in person.

california Christmas

We played our family tradition of the Left, Right, Center game. Aaron and I each won a round – and my dad won the first round.

california Christmas

That’s my dad: the big winner! After the game, it was time for presents. I asked for a new fancy blow dryer this year, and my secret Santa delivered. It’s this one if you are curious. Yes, it was a kind a splurge for a blowdryer, but my hair guy recommended it, and he swears it keeps your hair healthy – and cuts drying time in half.

After presents, we did some family photos, and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye. Our time together is never quite long enough!

Christmas Day

By the time we made it home, it was about 2 a.m., so we knew we were going to sleep in. My mom had some delicious sweet rolls for breakfast, along with some bacon and eggs. We did presents with my family – and we had no other commitments for the day. My mom was preparing a big Christmas dinner of prime rib, her delicious potatoes, a salad and some root vegetables.

So, Aaron and I decided to get out and go for a walk before dinner time. We normally like to go on a hike, but since it had been raining, we weren’t sure how safe the trails would be, so we opted for a beach walk instead, which was fine by me.

california Christmas

We went down by the harbor, which had a good 3-4 mile trail, and we saw some sea lions! They weren’t there the last time we were home, so it was so nice to see (and hear them) in action. They are very vocal, so you can hear them from a mile away.

california Christmas

After that, we headed back home to eat and spend some more time with my parents. Dinner was delicious, we made some plans for them to come visit at some point in 2022, and we finished our Christmas Day off with a heated game of parcheesi. It’s a great strategy game for adults!

Headed back to Houston

california Christmas

The following day it was time to head back to Houston. Aaron was working that week, and two of his employees were out with COVID. It’s incredibly widespread here in Houston. But, before we made the trek to LAX, we got in one last walk by the beach.

Flights were getting cancelled left and right, and the time of our flight kept increasing – and then decreasing – by about 15 minutes. So, we weren’t sure what surprises we would encounter at the airport. My parents dropped us off, and LAX was not crowded at all. We made it through security in about 15 minutes, so we grabbed some lunch while we waited about an hour for our flight. While we were eating, I got a notification that our flight was delayed by about an hour, but I later received another notification that it was only delayed by half an hour. So, we decided to wait near our gate just in case. And, sure enough, it actually boarded about 15 minutes after the original time, and many people on our flight were late due to the miscommunication. But, we finally managed to board everyone, and we left about 45 minutes after we were originally scheduled to leave.

However, after hearing about significant delays and cancellations, I’ll take it. Southwest never lets me down. In fact, it’s my preferred airline if I’m flying domestically. They’ve never lost a bag – or let me down in any big ways. We made it back into Houston around 10:30 p.m., and we went straight home and to bed!

I had such a wonderful Christmas, but I also feel for you if yours might have looked a bit different. Remember our COVID Christmas last year? My in-laws were supposed to join us, but they got COVID. I hope 2022 is a year full or hope, joy and peace for you – and that might look different for everyone!

Happy first Monday of 2022!


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