Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Cowtown

This Christmas was an extra special one for me. We spent it in Vacaville, CA, where Neil's brother and sister-in-law are currently living. They are stationed at Travis AFB, which happens to be the same base my dad was stationed at 41 years ago, when he and the brand new Mrs. Halliday left their hometown of Salt Lake City, UT to start their lives together as newlyweds in sunny California. I was born and raised in Vacaville and lived in the same house from birth up to age 20. At that point I moved to Orem, UT, and only a year later, my parents retired back to their "home" of Salt Lake. So clearly I've had little reason to go back to Vacaville since 2001, which is why this trip was so exciting and special!

There's nothing like a hometown. Memories that I didn't even know existed came pouring into my head as Neil, Chloe and I drove around, and there was an especially warm feeling as I thought back to the twenty Christmases I spent in the Neil Street house with my family... hanging Christmas lights with Dad, baking shortbread with Mom, Christmas shopping at the good old Outlet stores and Solano Mall, exchanging gifts near the fireplace, listening to "Deano" sing 'A Marshmallow World' over and over AND OVER again, Dad's Christmas Eve radio show on 90.3FM, admiring the tree and mantle lights late at night, laughing together, Mom's chili, Christmas movie classics like 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'An Affair to Remember'. Even though I didn't have the pleasure of celebrating Christmas with Dad, Mom and David this year, it still felt in a way like we were together.

We spent a solid four days in Vacaville and had a blast! Sunday I took Neil and Chloe to my home ward and saw several people who I've known a good portion, if not all of my life! It was so fun introducing old and familiar faces to Neil and Chloe.

Monday (Christmas Eve) we had dinner at Pietro's, which was one of our family restaurants growing up. It turns out Allison's family always had pizza on Christmas Eve, so we just sorta combined two family traditions. We ordered the usual - Super Special - and it as yummy as I remember it.

Christmas morning we read the story of Christ's birth in Luke, exchanged gifts and ate monkey cake. Then we did something I've never done on Christmas day - drove to to San Fransisco! More memories flooded my brain as we approached the city - mostly of my Dad, who was always my city date! We took a brisk walk in the cool ocean air, captured some pictures on the shore, enjoyed clam chowder bread bowls at Boudin - yum, and finished the evening with a drive down Lombard Street.

Wednesday Neil, Chloe and I explored Vacaville a bit, drove by my old house, high school, Hot Shots (first place I worked), Padan Elementary (where my mom taught for thirty five years), Vacaville Ballet Academy (where I spent several afternoons a week growing up), and other memorable and meaningful places. We also had lunch at Chevys, which holds a special place in our hearts. It is, after all, where we met! We both worked at the Orem, UT location back in February of 2002, and the rest is history. They've since closed that location down, and in all the places we've lived since leaving Utah, there's never been a Chevys anywhere. It definitely brought back memories, and I'm glad we had a chance to go.

What an overwhelmingly wonderful Christmas! Thank you again, Jeff and Allison, for your hospitality, for showing us a good time, and for making special efforts to make me feel back at home. And thank you, Dad and Mom, for the memories of Vacaville, which will always remain in my heart.


Anonymous said...

Another Christmas gift from you - this wonderful journey down memory lane. Twenty Christmases on Neil Street, lights strung around the roof, "A Marshmallow World" where there is no snow, baking, delivering, chili, gifts...all so sweet. Thank you, Honey. And all the photos - all around the town - we LOVED it! Fun to see Neil on Neil St. (whoever would have thought?)...and you and Chloe too :). We'll watch it again and again and again.... You continue to be amazing, and we love you so.
Happy Happy New Year!
Mom and Dad

Anonymous said...

P.S. ALSO LOVED seeing Gma Susie, Gpa Dave, Jeff, Allison, Lori, Aaron and Brad!!! We are so happy that all of them could share in your first Christmas back in Vacaville! Again....whoever would have thought Jeff and Allison would be living there, of all places?!!


Paula said...

Too fun for you. I love to visit places that I used to live and see old friends. But having grown up in the military, most of my friends have moved on from where I knew them. Glad you had a great Holiday season.