Enjoying Thanksgiving A Family Tradition of Travel, Food, and Loved Ones
From when I was a kid and well into my college years, my family celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ place in Arizona. My grandparents would travel to Arizona around the holiday season, where they were part of a large retirement community. Thanksgiving for us always stretched out for a few days so we could spend a lot of time with the family while we were all together. We would try to get to my grandparents as soon as possible, usually after Mom and Dad got off work early Thursday morning. All of us would pile in the car and drive straight through to Arizona while my cousins, aunts, and uncles in other states did the same. We’d meet up with them and a bunch of my grandparents’ friends who would come over to join in the festivities. There would always be about 20–30 of us together, and we’d spend the day playing games, hanging out in the Jacuzzi, swimming in the pool, and celebrating Thanksgiving with a fantastic dinner. It was always a lot of fun. The following Friday morning, the family would head over to a local pizza place to get our annual breakfast pizza. It would be a smaller group than at dinner the night before, but still quite a few people. The restaurant wasn’t prone to taking reservations, but my family would always call ahead and show up before they opened just to make sure we got a table together. I remember that my granddad would always order a jalapeño pizza and say, “Make it green.” He loved his jalapeños. Then on Saturday, one of my uncles would take the family out for dinner at a nice restaurant. They would make reservations for us at one of the best places around town. Later that day, my family would get back into the car and head home, exhausted and content from the weekend celebration. I had a lot of fun on these family adventures and looked forward to them as the holiday season started to kick off. My grandparents were pretty cool and really enjoyed traveling, but they stopped going back to Arizona when my grandfather began to have memory issues. The two of them moved up to Alaska, where they lived for many years before my grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved back down to Texas so we could keep an eye on her. We were all sad to see this family tradition come to an end, but we still have plenty “There would always be about 20–30 of us together, and we’d spend the day playing games, hanging out in the Jacuzzi, swimming in the pool, and celebrating Thanksgiving with a fantastic dinner. It was always a lot of fun.”
of great memories of the celebrations we enjoyed. I’ll always especially remember the last time we took our Arizona Thanksgiving holiday trip.
When I was really young, my grandparents lived in Washington state, and during one particular visit, I went off with my grandfather. He was planning on purchasing a chainsaw-sculpted bear from a local sculptor, and I tagged along for the short trip. I remember watching as the sculptor made the bear appear out of a block of wood, and I loved that bear. The sculpture remained at my grandparents’ house, wherever they were living at the time. For the holidays, they would dress it up — a pilgrim hat for Thanksgiving, bunny ears for Easter, and a Santa hat for Christmas. Whenever my family came over for any occasion, that bear was there celebrating with us, and I was happy to see it. On my last visit with my grandparents to Arizona, my granddad gave the bear to me, and it’s now sitting in my house. For me, the bear represents the holidays with my grandparents. Whenever I see it, I think of my granddad and all the wonderful times we had at our family gatherings.
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