Tag Archives: Christmas

Young Man Went West #29-C: Winter Trip Facebook Statuses, Unabridged (Pt. 3)

Day 7: Berkeley day with my big sis, Melanie Ramil, then lunch in L-mo with Casey Cochran. Last minute Christmas tree shopping with the family proved a failure, so we ended up decorating a 4-foot houseplant and watching a color-corrected version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Strange Christmas. . .

I can’t not go to the Bay Area without at least one trip to my old college town.  Except for the occasional new restaurant on Telegraph, signs of progress on the stadium, and the lack of students (I’m always visiting during a break), Berkeley still feels the same.  After trying (and failing) to see my old boss Kelly at the Bancroft Hotel, Ate Melanie and I chowed down on some pupusas in El Platano, a Salvadoran place at which she used to work.  The waitress got three out of four of our pupusa orders wrong, but it didn’t matter; they’re all delicious.

We then hit up the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, which comes around every weekend in December.  If you’ve ever walked past the vendors on Telegraph on a normal day, imagine that times a hundred.  And in the street.  The city cordons off four blocks of Telegraph, from Bancroft to Dwight, and vendors from all over the Bay line both sides of the street with their homemade goods.  One can find everything from candles to metal scrap statues, knit mittens to freshly popped kettle corn.  My sister does a lot of Christmas shopping here.

The two of us left Berkeley before I could meet up with my friends in the area so as to beat traffic (sorry Nate and Olivia!).  After grabbing a bit to eat and a beer with Casey at First Street Ale House in downtown Livermore, I rejoined my family for our traditional Christmas tree hunt.  I use the term “hunt” loosely since it usually just means driving to the closest lot.  Usually.  This year was different.  This year, we got a late start because somebody wanted to go gallivanting around southern California until December 22nd, meaning we couldn’t get a tree until the 23rd.  Apparently, nobody thinks people would be in the market for a Christmas tree so late in the game.  Our little shopping venture actually turned into a hunt as we prowled around Livermore in the Hyundai Sonata, scouting out the known Christmas tree lots, only to turn up empty-handed.

Downtrodden, we returned home and ultimately decided to settle on a (shudder) FAKE Christmas tree.  We’ve NEVER had a fake Christmas tree, and I could tell my dad was not happy.  He’s pretty nonchalant about most things, but by the look in his eyes I knew he saw a fake tree as a slap in the face to the memories of his childhood Christmases.  I had messed with tradition, and I felt bad.

While my mom was out buying the plastic Christmas twig, my dad was struck with a clever idea.  “How about this for a Christmas tree?” he yelled from the den.  My sister and I walked around the corner, curious, and found my dad pointing at a four-foot tall house plant.  It was so unexpected we couldn’t help but laugh and love it.  We promptly called up Mom and told her to forget about the fake plant for we had a worthy, if not ironic, substitute.

Another part of our Christmas tradition is decorating the tree with our ornaments, all of which are unique.  Except for our yearly family ornaments (ya know, those big ones with the year and our names), all of ours were gifts from friends, family, and my dad’s past students.  Absolutely no store-bought boxes of bulbs in bulk.  My mom, sister, and I retell the same stories behind each ornament while my dad watches It’s a Wonderful Life and critiques our hanging of said ornaments.  (Actually, we laugh about how we tell the same stories.  Pretty meta.)  This year, we couldn’t find our copy of the Frank Capra classic, so while my mom was out not buying the tree, she also purchased a new copy.  This one had a colorized version on the flip side.  Staring at our Christmas house plant, which was sagging under the weight of a fraction of our ornaments, my dad and I knew we had to watch the colorized version, much to my sister’s displeasure.  It was different, not worse.  The main thing was that I discovered how many daytime scenes there were.

The family in front of our Christmas House Plant

‘Twas a strange Christmas, but it’ll ultimately go down as one of the most memorable.

Day 8-9: Sister and I had breakfast w/Jake Sorensen and Jessi Bucey in Sac before continuing on to Lotus for the traditional Christmas Eve extravaganza with the Ramils. Good times, as always. Drove back home the next morning with the family and stayed in pajamas all day, even through our family Christmas dinner. The parents got the hang of their nooks a lot faster than expected.

Our Christmas Eves are spent with my dad’s side of the family at our “house in the woods” in Lotus.  Since my mom had to work until the evening, my dad stayed behind while my sister and I headed north that morning.  Sacramento is somewhat on the way to Lotus, so that was our first stop.  Not only does my sister live there, but so does my college roommate Jake and his girlfriend Jessi.  The four of us met up for breakfast.  Over delicious omelettes, our conversation quickly turned from jobs and future prospects to robots, hypothetical universes, and screenplays.  Some things never change.  Though brief, our encounters are never boring.

After a quick stop at my sister’s rat-terrorized apartment (a gritty war story that should–and may–be its own post), we continued on to Lotus.  Since its usually just the northern California chapter of our family, this get-together is relatively small compared to the bigger events (like a 100th birthday).  Ya know, only about forty or so people.

Everything played out as it it usually does: aunties in the kitchen cooking too much food, uncles drinking outside around the fire, cousins lounging about the living room while their kids run around on an endless amount of energy.  Dinnertime looks pretty much the same except everybody has an overflowing plate in hand.  There’s no room for a table big enough to hold us.  After dinner comes the presents, which, in my family, is a two- to three- hour long event.

I have noticed a drop in the patience and gratitude levels of the young folk.  When I was a kid, I hugged everybody who gave me a gift and waited patiently for my next one.  I’m not saying there aren’t some little cousins that do exactly that (see photo below), but there are definitely others who seem unsatisfied unless there’s a constant stream of toys coming there way.  I’m going to blame this on instantly-gratifying, Internet-infused, multimedia technology.  Attention spans have become an endangered species.  Thankfully, as long as we have family–and some copy of It’s a Wonderful Life–Christmas spirit will not be.

Exception: this kid. He sat quietly, was genuinely excited every time his name was called ("For me?!"), and loved EVERY gift he got ("This is EXACTLY what I wanted!")

The next morning we drove back to Livermore for more of my immediate family’s tradition: opening presents in pajamas.  As the baby in the family, I love this tradition because I’m the young one all over again (as opposed to the older cousin who hands out presents and plays in the adults’ White Elephant).  We drank hot chocolate and snacked on a plethora of random hors d’oeuvres my mom prepared.  My Uncle Mike and Cousin Jordan even stopped by for a second on their way back from Lotus.  Even though our rented digital copy of A Christmas Carol crapped out, I couldn’t ask for more.

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YMWW #11: Tidbits of Awesome

Monday, December 7, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

As you saw from my last note, the end of November brought me some bad luck, specifically in the realm of bicycle tires. If one looks hard enough, one might find balance in the universe around them. I looked, and saw the balance of my luck tip in the other direction with the start of December. If this trend of awesome keeps up, this month is gonna be legen—wait for it—dary!

Tuesday, December 1st

Kahala Beach

What better way to spend the first of December in Hawai’i than at a beach? During the waning hours of my work shift that Tuesday, I got a text from Juvana that read, “Brit and i are coming to meet you at kahala mall so you better be ready to hang out with us fool” (yeah, she’s gangsta like that). When my shift ended, I got a call:
“We’re going to Kahala Beach. Meet us at Wet Seal.”
“I don’t have my bathing suit.”
“So what? We’re going straight there.”
“But—”
“—No, we’re going straight there.”

And we did.

Now the beach was rocky and there were no waves, but there was still great weather and beautiful views. The best aspect of that adventure, though, was that it was completely impromptu. . . and that, sir, is awesome.

Thursday, December 3rd

Part of Thomas (France), Akos (Hungary), and Yuri (Japan), making sushi.

Following the theme of impromptu activities, my roommates and I rearranged the furniture in our living room. Rearranging furniture may sound like a chore, but as Jake knows, it can be a great experience. Besides breaking the monotony of everyday living and allowing creativity to flow, moving furniture around a room is, above all else, a great bonding experience to have with roommates. It started with Mose vacuuming, asking us to move chairs out of the way. We started moving tables, too. Then the couch. Then others came home and BOOM, the whole living room was rearranged! And just in time, too, because—

and here comes Thursday awesomeness, part II

—our friends came over with the ingredients for a sushi dinner! Yuri (from Japan) and Jenny (from Germany) are in an English class with my roommate Akos (from Hungary). They’ve come over to cook before, and it always results in a United Nations-type feast. I have another roommate from France (Thomas), and one who spent half his life in China (Peter). With Mose (from Hawai’i) and me (from California) at the table, the conversations are always interesting, hilarious, and comprised of many accents. The are, in short, awesome.

Friday, December 4th

I need to find this girl. She goes to Cal, seems to have studied abroad, could possibly be from Hawai’i, and obviously has Cal spirit.

I went to the movie theaters with Thomas, Akos, and some friends. I saw 2012 (6/10) andBrothers (8/10) (OK, I confess, I movie-hopped. It’s against my cine-morals, but my friends sneaked into Planet 51, which I never want to see, while Brothers, which I really wanted to see, started as soon as we got out of the first film. I had no choice). My bike—which is pimped out with a basket adorned with a Cal sticker—was locked up outside one of the nearby Starbucks. When I returned to my bike, I found this message scrawled on a napkin left in my basket: “I go to Cal and have been out of the U.S.A. for 3 months. Seeing your sticker made me SO happy. Have a wonderful night! GO BEARS!!” This napkin is tangible proof of the camaraderie of the extended Cal family and the warmth of Cal Spirit. Though the elusiveness of the note’s author is mildly frustrating, her note is nothing short of awesome.

Saturday, December 5th

There seem to be other Mighty 4 events in other cities in the US and Canada. Check it out!

Bored and disappointed by the Bears’ tragic, season-ending loss to the Huskies, I called my friend Ingrid to see what she was up to. Of course, she was doing something random and cool: she was at UH watching a b-boy competition! I met up with her later and, for the first time, witnessed skilled breakdancers. Live! The closest I got to watching live breakdancing was seeing my middle school peers attempt the Worm at a school dance. This was much, much better. I saw three-person crews battle it out, the final eight whittled down to one dominant group. The best part, though, was that after each fantastic showdown of oneupmanship, the music ended and all members of the battling crews gave each other hugs and props. No matter how high the stakes, the bond over a shared passion outshone any possible conflicts. I’m sorry I couldn’t share any pictures, I didn’t bring my camera. But believe me, it was awesome.

Future Awesomeness

How can this month get any better? Well, for starters, my cousin Avery comes back in a couple days. I’ve absconded her friends while she’s been away, I think it’s time I share.
What else does December bring? That’s right, holidays! I will always love those.
Speaking of holidays, I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS! Yes, I’ve missed San Francisco and Berkeley a lot, and while I’m in no rush to see Livermore again, I miss all my friends and family there. I’ll be in the Bay Area between the 23rd and the 30th, so if you’re around, give me a call! I’m returning to O’ahu just in time for New Year’s.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow, I will upload the pictures I took at Pearl Harbor today (the 68th anniversary of the attack). Look out for that photo album! (Photo album on Facebook)

It’s Roxy time!

At Macy’s with Brit and Juvana, I found a large poster of famous Roxy model Jarah Mariano (you’ve seen her before). This is one step closer to meeting Jarah in person!

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