Seiya and I had been planning to take a trip to visit my parents in California for Christmas for months when the Camp Fire destroyed my hometown, Paradise, on November 8, 2018.
Luckily, my parents made it out alive and were able to find a house in Sacramento to rent before we were set to arrive on December 20th. I was relieved to find them in good spirits despite all that had happened.
Even though we didn’t get to see my hometown as planned, we enjoyed spending time with my family and exploring Sacramento.
Good food and drinks, a warm house, and good company is all we need to enjoy the holidays.
The only presents under the Christmas tree were ones that we had brought with us as souvenirs from Japan. But we all just felt lucky to be able to spend Christmas together.
One of the presents we brought was 手ぬぐい (tenugui), a traditional Japanese cloth which in modern times is used more as a decoration than anything else. We hung them on their wall.
We also bought them some nice chopsticks and chopstick rests. My parents had bought some when they visited Japan 3 years ago, but since they were lost in the fire, we decided to get them new ones.
My parents got ahold of some second-hand board games which we enjoyed playing together.
Some of our Pictionary Masterpieces (≧∀≦)
Seiya’s first time playing Scrabble! He did surprisingly well.
Of course, we had plenty of California beer to help us celebrate the occasion!
We went on walks almost every day to try to keep off that holiday weight!
Not only did we walk around the neighborhood several times, but we also took a walk along the American River.
I love this picture of Seiya and my dad sitting together on a makeshift shelter they found near the river.
Before we arrived in America, my parents went up to Paradise to see if they could find anything on their property that survived the fire. To their surprise, they discovered that the shed, which they had just built last year and I didn’t even know existed, had survived!
Despite the waste bins being partly melted, the shed was practically untouched. Their bicycles had been stored in the shed, so they were lucky to be able to recover their bicycles and bring them back with them to Sacramento.
So, naturally, we had to take them for a ride to explore the area more!
My parents rented “Jump” bicycles one day so that all four of us could ride around town together.
We walked around East Sacramento and looked at Christmas lights one night.
Some of the houses were really big and beautiful. There were a lot of other people walking around and driving around looking too.
My parents’ rental house has orange trees on the property, so we made fresh squeezed orange juice! It was so good.
My dad picking the oranges!
We had it with blueberry pomegranate pancakes one morning❤️
One thing I had taken for granted when I lived in California was the abundance of fruits. We ate a wide variety of fruits during our stay in Sacramento. This was oatmeal with banana, mango, blueberries, and dried cherries!
All the food was delicious. The first night my mom made this amazing beef with the slow-cooker.
The next day, we had leftover beef with salad and cornbread, which I love so much and never get to eat in Japan!
Another night, we had homemade quiche. I love my mom’s quiche and was so happy to be able to eat it again.
On Christmas eve, we had a traditional turkey dinner with real cranberry sauce!!!
I think Seiya liked the turkey leg (≧∀≦)
Another night, my mom made lasagna! It was so delicious.
One day for lunch, we went to a Greek restaurant. The food was amazing!
The Greek fries and Spanakopita plate were excellent!
Another day for lunch, we met my parents’ friends for lunch at a Thai restaurant.
The curry was very spicy, and very tasty!
Another fun thing we did was look at old pictures and videos. I didn’t know this before I got there, but apparently my parents had completely digitalized all of my childhood photos and home videos and had miraculously managed to keep the data safe from the fire.
My aunt also sent my parents a few physical photos that she had kept of us as kids, so I took some pictures of the photos to keep.
One day, we decided to go to Sac Zoo to see the animals.
Overall, we had a really nice time staying with my parents in Sacramento for the holidays.
But all things must come to an end, and so we made our way back to San Francisco International Airport on the morning of December 30th.
Next, it’s my parents’ turn to come visit us in Japan! ^_^