Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Much Needed Christmas Vacation Part 1: Seattle

Instead of going back to Hong Kong, like I normally do, my family and I spent Christmas Vacation travelling to three places: Seattle, Napa Valley, and San Francisco. I left for Seattle after an exhausting week of finals and stayed at my grandpa's house with my dad for a week. My mom and sister then joined us and we stayed for another few days before heading off to Napa. Rather than write about each day, I'll summarize because some days consisted of staying home.

Papa White

My grandfather lives alone and lives a simple life. We first visited him after he moved into a small home a couple of years ago and he explained that he only had 1 fork, spoon, knife, bowl, and plate. Now that we visit him often, he's increased the amount of cutlery. His simplicity doesn't make him a lonely person, though. He keeps himself occupied by going to church, studying to become a member of the third-order (a part of the church), and having an occasional meal with friends or family. He lives in a very small town north of Seattle with the population of about 6,500 people. So naturally, as any friendly man that lives alone would, he knows everyone in the town. We would encounter one of his friends in every restaurant, bank, or even gas station we went to. It was nice to see that so many people care for him as much as he cares for them.

Papa and I at the famous "Duck In".

The Usual

During our stay, we usually went to breakfast with him at the "Duck In" or another diner nearby. Papa would either order the "special" oatmeal or the "special" french toast. He says "special" because it was his usual, not because it was any different from the normal oatmeal or french toast. Papa had his own list of things to do during the day so my dad and I would run errands and then come back for dinner.

We did our traditional cookie-making, but this time Papa was there to witness it. Mom and Dad hadn't had time to make cookies and bring them, so we decided to make them in his house this year. There was flour all over our clothes and the floor and sprinkles and frosting covered his dining room table. And he loved all of it. We asked him to help us decorate, but he just sat and watched us with a slight smile on his face as Miracle on 34th Street was playing on the TV.

My dad and Papa with the christmas cookies.
Mom and Hayley Arrive

The day after my mom and sister arrived, we all went to breakfast at a diner and then came home to cook. Papa doesn't like to cook so my mom decided to cook a home meal for dinner. The beef stew turned out great and we ate while we watched the football game.

Mom cooking beef stew.

Papa, my sister, and Mom enjoying dinner.

Christmas

On Christmas Eve, we attended late night mass. The church was nicely decorated with Christmas trees, lights, and the nativity scene. The priest started by jokingly pointing out that the ox was missing and everyone in the church laughed. The choir sang my favorite Christmas songs, so I sang happily with my sister. I always love going to church during Christmas time because of the sense of togetherness.

The church decorations.

My sister and I woke up to the smell of cinnamon rolls and eggs. Christmas morning was everything I could possibly want. Sitting down for breakfast, opening presents, and watching Papa bend on his new yoga mat in ways I hadn't thought possible.

Papa's 3-foot tree.

Papa as Old Saint Nick.

Chef Daddy

We then went to my Aunt and Uncle's house to celebrate Christmas with the rest of my dad's family. We brought the food and prepared it as aunts, uncles, and cousins chatted with each other in the family room. We also made sure to bring our cookies (after all, we did make 120). Our family lives all over the west coast so it was nice for everyone to get together and have dinner.

Mom cooking a meal for the vegetarians.

The next day, we left for Napa Valley. I loved getting to spend time with my grandpa and listen to his stories and wise thoughts about life. Family is the most important part of Christmas and this was probably the most memorable one. I hope to continue visiting my grandpa during Christmas because I think about him a lot, but I'm sure this year will go by fast and I'll see that subtle smile soon.

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