So over thanksgiving this year, Aviva and I spent nine very fast days in California with my parents, her parents and a variety of other family, related by both blood and friendship. Overall trip was an incredible experience, leaving me profoundly grateful for all of the incredible friendships and family that are surrounding Aviva and myself. I felt like I connected much more deeply with her parents, and I discovered that the feeling that you not only love your in-laws but really, really enjoy hanging out with them is fantastic. I connected and reconnected with so many wonderful friends, spent some time getting to know my stepmothers family better and generally just lapped up the love and warmth ... it was so wonderful to be with so many people who I love so much who all love me back.Ostensibly, the purpose of the trip was thanksgiving and an engagement party the following weekend, but we managed to pack in much, much more. The major theme of the week turned out to be eating ... we are Jewish, so this is not a huge surprise. While in the Bay Area we ate at both Gary Danko and the French Laundry, the latter of which was an amazing, almost transcendant experience ... I go on about it at some length in a separate post. Thanksgiving dinner was also fabulous, although my father woke me up at 530 am to cook the turkey, which is only forgivable because the turkey turned out fabulously. Everyone commented that it was so juicy and asked how we made it, when I commented that I had been up basting it for 12 hours they looked a bit more circumspect ... still, cooking with my dad was great, as always, I think we made the best gravy ever this year. And I also really enjoyed spending time with my stepmothers family and bringing them to together with my new family, it was generally a great night all around.
Other than eat we met with my friend Lisa, who also happens to be the wonderful Rabbi who is officiating our wedding (admittedly meeting her did involve breakfast at Hobees ... but how can you be in the Bay Area and not eat there at least once). We went to Gleim's jewelers to get our wedding bands made, and as always, they were wonderful with us. We introduced Aviva and her wonderful parents to all my dear friends and family in the Bay area, at the engagement party, thanksgiving and a number of other spontaneous gatherings during the week. Aviva and Tanya went to a baby shower for one of my best friends newborn sons, Ethan, while I got together with my best friends and hung out with them and the dads. We also visited my mothers grave with my father, Tanya and Bucky, which turned out to be a moving and wonderful experience. I have not been there since we unveiled the grave nine years ago, and I often say that my mom is not really there so its not really a place of any significance ... but it is, and going there with my dad and my parents-in-law and the woman I love was really, really significant.
And aside from all of these other things, I somehow found some time to get in some walking with my father.
We also took some day trips, spending a day wine tasting in Napa, with visits to the Groth, Plumpjack, SilverOak and Turnbull wineries. All four were very good, but for Aviva and I, Plumpjack, a relatively new winery started by SF mayor Gavin Newsom and his friends, was by far the best. I will say that the wines from Groth, which were relatively disappointing that day, turned out to be much, much better with a little bit of oxidation. And the day before leaving, we took Avivas parents to Muir Woods for a taste of the redwoods, the giant trees that live only on the west coast of the US. This trip was particularly sweet because on the way back to the peninsula, we stopped at the Golden Gate National Recreation area for some of the best views of the Golden Gate bridge I have ever had.
The trip flew by, as everyday was packed and wonderful, but as I said above, this trip was more than just fun, it was a moving, growing, wonderful, mush, mush, mush ... really, it was an amazing experience and it left me profoundly thankful for my life.