posted by Joe Anaya on December 2nd, 2013

We just celebrated Thanksgiving in Las Vegas and took a quick trip to the Grand Canyon before returning to Los Angeles. At some point, my wife says, “We’re making memories.” So, I thought I’d list a couple of memories from the holidays with my family.

My Japanese mother learned to cook what she thought was American food while living with my dad’s Mexican family. So, every Thanksgiving (and Christmas) along with the usual turkey, mashed potatoes and corn, we’d have Spanish rice, homemade tortillas and molé instead of gravy.

My favorite memory of my dad during the holidays is his love of mariachi music, even during the holidays. He had a record of the Mexicali Brass  playing Christmas music. It was this crazy mix of classic Christmas music suddenly turning into Mexican brass playing mariachi music. For years I’ve missed it and tried to explain it to my friends and family. Finally, it’s been made available digitally. And it makes me smile every time I hear it.

I also remember my mother who was infinitely impatient, waking me one Thanksgiving morning after I had just driven 12 hours back from college arriving late the night before. At 9:00 a.m., my mom is nudging me, “Joseph, wake up. It’s ready.”

I groggily roll over, “I’m not hungry.” I close my eyes and try to go back to sleep. But I don’t hear her leave the room.

There’s a pause, then a poke. “Joseph, get up. It’s ready.”

“What’s ready?” I ask. “Breakfast?”

“No, dinner. Come eat it while it’s hot,” was her reply.

I stagger into the dining room and find the full Thanksgiving spread laid out like a Norman Rockwell painting (plus the molé). “What… why?” I stammered.

Turns out, after waking up for work at 5:00 a.m. for 40 years, her body clock wasn’t going to change. And being impatient, she just started cooking. So, that year, we had Thanksgiving “dinner” a few hours after sunrise.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but clearly my family was making memories and good ones at that.

File Under King of the Castle