1. Running the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot with my sister
We started this brother-sister tradition back in 2010, getting up super early, grabbing Starbucks, and heading downtown, only to be corralled like cattle into groups based on our running times. Every year, I’d wave goodbye first and start off with the other 10k runners, and we’d rendezvous at the finish line, after she finished her 5k race. As if the race itself wasn’t enough, we would rush to stuff our free goodie bags with as many bananas, protein bars, and water bottles as we could. Mom always likes it when we come home with free stuff. Before heading home, we’d take our obligatory brother-sister photo in our official Turkey Trot shirts. Always such a fun time and great way to start off Thanksgiving Day. It made us feel less guilty when we stuffed our faces later on at dinner. 4 years in a row so far, now with a 2-year break in between, but we’ll come back strong in 2017, I’m sure!
2. Watching the Thanksgiving Holiday Parade while eating pho
One of the best things about running the Turkey Trot so early in the morning is that by the time we get back home, Mom is always putting her finishing touches on pho. For those who don’t know or haven’t had it, pho is a traditional Vietnamese dish; rice noodles in a beef or chicken broth with a whole bunch of yummy stuff in it, basically. Once showering from the race was complete, Mom would prepare us a big, steaming hot bowl of pho, and we would sit down and enjoy it just in time to watch the Thanksgiving Holiday Parade. My guilty pleasure each year? Watching all the marching bands coming down the line and playing holiday music and reminiscing about my own band geek days.
3. Thanksgiving Dinner
Turkey. Ham. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Deviled eggs. Green bean casserole. Chicken casserole. Buttered corn. Buttered peas. Buttered green beans. Butter, butter, butter. Pumpkin pie. Apple pie. Whipped cream. I could go on and on, folks.
4. Holiday get-togethers with friends
Get-togethers with the boys were a never a dull time, especially during the holidays. A handful of friends lived far from their families, and as a group we’d always gather so that everyone would get a chance to celebrate the holidays with loved ones. I’ll miss the potluck extravaganzas, boardgames, countless photos, and out-on-the-town shenanigans, but I’m more than positive they’ll still be there when I get back!
5. Christmas with the family
My favorite time of the year. Dinner on Christmas Eve is always a revisit of Thanksgiving dinner, but with a bajillion more items: hot pot (a piping hot fondue for raw seafood and vegetables), crab, oysters, fried rice, chow mein, jap chae, and a variety of che, Vietnamese tapioca-type desserts, just to name a few. Everyone in the family gets together and eats, drinks, sings karaoke, plays cards and games, and has a great time together until midnight. At midnight, everyone gathers around the tree opens presents together. We usually call it a night around 2:00am, only to do it all over again on Christmas Day, only this time, someone gets assigned to accompany Grandma to church in the morning. Oh, and if I’m super lucky, sometimes my two best friends make cameo appearances and join in all the holiday family fun.