“I’m going to be done with trial right around Thanksgiving and I want to go on a vacation. I’m thinking of getting a big house near Joshua Tree. Want to join us?” She showed me the house on Airbnb. Right in the heart of Palm Desert, four bedrooms. Sleeps 12. TVs in every room. Two video game systems. A pool AND a jacuzzi?!?!?!? How do you say no to that?
Sadly, we couldn’t go down for the whole week, we just didn’t have the vacation days available to us. So we left the Bay Area on Wednesday and arrived in Palm Desert Thursday morning, just in time for the traditional biscuits and cranberry sauce breakfast with my best friend and her family.
The kids saw the pool and practically stripped right there in the living room while throwing out everything in their backpacks looking for their swimsuits. My son ran and jumped right in. My daughter, the not yet a strong swimmer, was more cautious. But soon, she too was cannon-balling into the water and dog-paddling over to the side.
My best friend and I celebrate Thanksgiving together most years, and often her family from Wyoming will come over to participate as well. Since R had rented this great house, both her parents and her sister came in for the week. It was lovely to have all them around. R and I have been best friends for more than half our lives and her family is like my family now. We worked together to chop, cook, and make dinner. Her sister M helped make strong “Sidecar” cocktails. We all agreed no one was going anywhere, so we may as well enjoy ourselves. At one point, I even took a nap in a lounge chair by the pool as I watched the kids swim about.
Around 4 PM we all sat down for dinner outside. The biggest table was the outdoor one and the weather was perfect. We sat down to a “modest” spread of duck, turkey, wild rice pilaf, asparagus and homemade rolls. We all talked, laughed, enjoyed the food, and watched the little boys polish off their plates, while the little girls just wanted to eat the rolls. I looked around and truly felt thankful. The weight of events of the past few weeks were heavy on my mind, and seeing all the love and support around me warmed my heart.
After dinner with the sun getting down, and the heater finally getting the jacuzzi to the right temperature, all the adults got in their suits and jumped in the hot tub. The kids were still enjoying the pool, and were jumping in. Then there was that amusing period where R’s husband and sister tried to see who had the best method to get on the Pegasus float. Not sure who won, but I still belly laugh thinking of the sight of it.
The next day was my second favorite holiday of the season, Black Friday! Yes, I’m one of those. My best friend and I have a tradition. We wake up early, hit up the shops, do some bonding, and of course shop for good deals. I’m the planner, the one who determines the route, and scopes out the deals. I generally get my Christmas shopping done that day. R likes to stock up on household goods, and uses it as an opportunity to buy for the family or two she adopts each year though her work’s holiday giving tree. This year my husband tagged along to score some new work clothes (and a few other things I noticed him add to the cart), and R’s mom came too, just to join in on the fun. We had a great time laughing, talking and shopping through all the big retailers. My knee started to give out (I AM still recovering from knee surgery), so I used the motorized cart in Target. We had a good time laughing at me trying to turn corners and take out displays along the way (oops, sorry about that). After a few Starbucks runs, and a totally full car, we called it and headed back to the house.
While we were gone, the four kids had spent the time swimming, eating, napping and gorging on video games. They hadn’t even noticed a friend of ours from undergrad who was visiting family in Palm Springs, stopped by. We spent some time catching up, while hanging out and drinking by the pool. That night we had a simple dinner of hamburgers and onion pudding (which is a favorite Thanksgiving dish we didn’t have time to make the day before). The kids watched a movie while the adults lounged around talking and drinking wine. It was the perfect end to the evening.
The next day the rental ended. The kids took one last dip in the pool while the adults packed up, cleaned, and played luggage Tetris with the two cars (maybe we bought a little too much on Black Friday…). Once packed up, we all hugged and said our good-byes. My son and daughter cried, not wanting to leave the “way cooler than ours” house, and begging to stay just a few more days. But as we know, all good things must come to an end. So we took one last look back, then headed down the road, on to Joshua Tree and one more adventure before heading back home…