Christmas came early for the McArnolds this year. Instead of exchanging gifts, almost all of us* traveled to California to spend Thanksgiving week with friends and relatives. *Steph had an exam at nursing school that could not be taken at any time but the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That's my first (and hopefully, only) "BOO...HISS" that I've ever said towards the University of Texas at Arlington.
My little family flew to LA 3 days early to catch up with friends from our Pasadena years. We were able to see Bert perform in the final weekend of "Don't Hug Me! I'm Pregnant", worship with our friends at Agape Christian Church, and spend time with my teaching friends from my 5 years in Glendale. I did not spend enough time eating Armenian pastries, and we are growing accustomed to the feeling of walking away from our visits with tears. There is never enough time.
As we drove past our old neighborhood after church, the waterworks began for me. Owen tried to console me with, "You know, I used to see my friend Riley EVERY day in kindergarten, but now I only see him at recess. It's tough, but I know he's still my friend." Not too bad Therapist Arnold; a little bit of his dad in him after all. :) All of that to say that those 5 years were so extremely formative for me as a wife, teacher, friend, and mother. I am so thankful for the friendships and experiences shared in community there.
These days flew by quickly, so I only managed 2 photos. One of June on the plane
and the other of June and Owen with their favorite lap in all of California...Auntie Rae's. If words could express my affection for her, I still wouldn't write them here. Too much to say, dear friend!
Off to San Diego! All of Mom's family migrated from farms east of Dallas to California after WWII. They plopped themselves down a couple of blocks away from the Pacific Ocean, and her idyllic tales of growing up at the beach begin there. Owen did not hesitate to reacquaint himself with the ocean...he rolled up his pant legs and then proceeded to wade in up to his chest. He looked like a loon walking down the boardwalk with no pants and a hoodie afterward, but then again, there's no dress code on the beach either.
June's issue with dirt extends to sand. She stayed in her stroller, even complaining that her wheels were getting dirty. :p But she and Gordon did have some buddy time while they were parked on the beach with one of the best views in the world.
We checked in with Uncle Mo and Aunt Linda on day one because if Uncle Mo doesn't see those rascals within hours of a plane landing, you will hear about it! The kids loved playing with Aunt Linda's walker, and Uncle Mo engaged himself with each of his great-grand nephews and niece.
Day two found us ready to hit La Jolla beach, where Mom lived from junior high until her odd choice to move to West Texas. Nothing like Abilene, TX to make you miss home your freshman year of college, right? Owen wore proper swim attire...kind of. It is the last week in November and the water was ICE, but it IS a swim suit.
The Cove links me to some of my dearest memories of my grandparents. When I would travel there in the summers, they would walk the path along the cliffs or through town every day. The breeze, the grass, the sea lions, and the views...my grandfather in a seer sucker suit and straw hat...my grandmother with pearls and silky pants. To see Gordon crawling through the same grass, Owen playing on the same beach, and everyone gawking at those sea lions was a sheer treasure.
Finally, Turkey Day! I'm all for tradition, but this year it was nice to do something a little different and yet, still familiar (Unlike the year we had Del Taco for Thanksgiving dinner in Pasadena...that was just odd). We were able to eat the Thanksgiving meal at Mo and Linda's retirement center, and they did an AWESOME job! Uncle Mo and Aunt Linda are now in their 90s, but this is their first year to not live in that same bungalow they built in Pacific Beach more than half a century ago. So it was all of our first time to experience the center's Thanksgiving meal. Here we all are...dressed up and enjoying the dining hall. PS: That is not "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski movie...that is my Uncle Jerry (who secretly loves it when people do mistake him for Jeff Bridges' character).
And because my parents are not in enough of these pictures:
Michael and Lee are also conspicuously absent from many pictures too. I think that's a good thing. They were busy wrangling kids, riding bikes on the beach, and surfing. I was able to go on a great walk then stop on the beach to think about the week's events. As I sat on the continent's edge, listening to the waves hit the shore as the sun glittered off the sand, I couldn't help but recall this verse from Ezekiel:
Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east. The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters, and the whole landscape shone with his glory.
It was a beautiful moment in a long and satisfying trip.