Family Thanksgiving

Twenty-seven years ago this month, my parents made a courageous decision and uprooted our family to move across the country- from Minneapolis, MN to Phoenix, AZ. At this time, my parents had my sister, who was approx. 2 years old, and myself, a mere 6 months old and I know this decision couldn’t have been easy (though, my mom would say otherwise as it was 70+ degrees in AZ and -0 in MN). They moved away from their support system and from the only location they’ve ever known- the Midwest- into the unknown for a new job opportunity. It diffidently takes bravery to do what they did.

While we grew up without our extended family close by, my parents never let us forget the importance of family and we never really felt the distance apart. I think part of my decision to move away from my family stemmed from the fact that my parents did the same thing and were still close to their families. Distance doesn’t remove the love and support, it just requires a little more effort, which is easy when your family members are your best friends.

Last holiday season, I was unable to make it home and spent the holidays with friends but without my family. It was harder on me than I thought it would be. I knew moving away from them meant I might miss out on holidays, birthdays, etc. but it still didn’t make it any easier. This thanksgiving was different. I was able to fly home to Arizona, along with my sister and two nephews, to spend four days in the sunshine. I was beyond excited for this trip because it would be the first time that my dad, my brother and I would meet our newest family member, my nephew Gavin and it was love at first sight.

Waking up at 7:30AM after landing at 1 AM on Thanksgiving Day, to my 3-year old nephew telling me “sun’s up, Cole up”. It’s hard to argue with that statement let alone his cute face. (This would be my morning wake up call for the next 4 days and I loved it every morning.) This Thanksgiving would be our first Thanksgiving together after both my sister and I flew the nest and moved to different states and while it didn’t include the typical Lan-Zen Thanksgiving celebration, it was still one of my favorites. We spend the day in workout/exercise clothing lounging around the house, cooking lunch/dinner and went on walks along Tempe Town Lake, where my nephew had a blast throwing rocks into the water. The mind of a three-year old never seize to amaze me. He would get so excited when he would find a “big rock” just to throw it into the water.

Over the course of the next four days, I spent time holding and loving on baby Gavin, enjoyed a nighttime light parade with Jacob, spent some brother/sisters time closing down the bars in Tempe- something my sister hasn’t done in years (we didn’t drink much, we mostly just chatted), laughed as my father embraced black Friday because he gave Jacob the Toys-R-Us ad the night before (lessoned learned), watched as baby Gavin met Santa for the first time and as Jacob walked as far away from him as possible, tailgated at the ASU/UA game before enjoying dinner with my sister’s friends, giving Jacob a gift and playing it with him (he is beginning to understand “present”), and I even found time to hang out with one of my best friends and her husband.

This trip home reminded me how lucky I am to have the family that I have and it was really hard to board the plane back to Washington. I knew it would only be a few months until I got to see them again (Dallas-Feburary) but it still doesn’t make flying away any easier. I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing, family-filled, long overdue weekend but I can say that I am more thankful and grateful than ever that I was able to head home for Thanksgiving.

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