I spent Thanksgiving morning with my family watching the Macy's parade in Manhattan and then the evening having dinner with my husband and his family. This is the first Thanksgiving in years where I haven't worked. I actually prefer to work but no one took me up on the offer this year when I asked at work if anyone wanted me to cover. With the exception of Halloween, I actually don't mind working holidays because I am greedy for that holiday pay and banking more vacation hours. But Halloween isn't a paid holiday anyway.
I also hadn't seen the parade in person since I was like 10. All I remember is cold and I couldn't see anything because I was tiny. Well, I'm still tiny so not much has changed. And also this year it was basically 19° outside, which I'm told was the coldest it's ever been on Thanksgiving in years. Luckily, my viewing point was NOT outside. One of my sisters works in Manhattan and her office building invites all their employees and families every year to view the parade from their perspective work floors. We were fortunate enough to view from the 14th floor, which was a nice comfortable temperature as well as still a decent view.
I am NOT a morning person so you can imagine my struggle with waking up at 5am to get into the city on time to get into the building before the parade started at 9am. I complained the whole morning. It was SO DAMN EARLY. But I picked up a dozen bagels to numb my pain. My friend picked up donuts as well. In the end, it worked out nicely. We viewed the parade from the comfort of a warm office building and had munchies during the whole procession, while watching hundreds of civilians battle it out in the cold. It was brick out there walking just the one block from the subway stop to the building so I can't imagine how terrible it was for these people watching outside and standing for what was probably hours before it started, all the way til 11:30 when it ended. And it didn't even come down our block until around 9:30. It wouldn't have been worth it for my bitch ass if I had to stand outside North of the Wall like that. I am not a wildling. It's not in my blood.
But watching the parade from up high, in a comfortable setting, despite how tired I was, made me realize not only how fortunate I was, but how far my family has come along since our much more humble days back when every penny was pinched. But again, also reminded me how my dad tried so hard to make us still feel normal by taking us to the parade like every other American family. My mom even learned to cook an entire American Thanksgiving with the church donated food we were given every year during our struggling times.
It's funny because growing up in such a strict household where my parents wouldn't let me do anything "American" like hang out with friends, go to the movies or to the mall, I always felt stifled through their traditional homeland ways when all I wanted to be was normal like my school friends. I just wanted to be allowed to go to sleepovers and birthday parties and talk on the phone with my friends. I looked at my parents as the enemy who were trying to "ruin my life," as every dramatic teenager would say. But looking back, I see now they were actually doing a lot of things to let me be "American," but what they specifically wouldn't let me do, wasn't punishment, but out of love. They were protecting me from a lot. It's really hard to navigate the American waters as immigrants, let alone raise first generation children up in it. I give my parents a lot of credit for all they had to do, raising 5 kids alone in a foreign country, trying to assimilate and learn the culture, as well as struggle to preserve their own culture through their children. I can speak Vietnamese but I don't read it as easily (unless it's food) and I wish I had paid more attention when my mom tried to teach me when I was younger. She even had relatives bring back school workbooks from Vietnam to teach me to read and write, but being a stubborn child, I didn't put any effort into my lessons. I was too bitter about not being allowed to have outside friends. My siblings "were my friends" as she would say. But when you're that young, you want friends outside your home. Of your own choosing. And it's so ironic that years later, I would end up finally wanting to spend time with my siblings and my family. Life is funny that way. I ended up being close to my family anyway after all these years, when I was always trying to push them away in exchange for a more American one.
The parade itself was really nice to view. I enjoyed seeing all the different balloons come down the street, especially the Pikachu. I felt bad for all the people marching though, with how cold it was. Some of the girls in the parade were only in skirts with thin tights. The march itself was very slow and stopped a lot at certain intervals so I can't imagine they stayed very warm marching through. Even a regular temperature fall day is too cold for me to run through sometimes so 19° had to have been brutal. It takes some dedication and commitment to do this every year. God knows my bitch ass wouldn't do it.
Afterwards, we walked down to Rockefeller Center for some quick pics and lunch before departing ways for the rest of the day. The last time my family did this was way back in my early college days, when my baby sister was still an actual baby. I realized in this short amount time together that morning, just like our family cruise earlier this year, I really do enjoy spending time with my whole family, doing the things I used to not really take notice of or care for. Maybe I'm finally growing up after all this time.
After lunch, I headed back to the island to try and make it in time for Thanksgiving dinner. My husband and I both ended up being late (him being stuck at work and I being stuck in Thanksgiving day traffic) but my sister-in-law thoughtfully made us both plates so we were able to just sit down and eat as soon as we walked through the door. My in-laws are so sweet and always thinking of us, even though we're always ghosts and MIA at family functions because work and busy lives. I ended up being really tired from being up so early and passing out on the couch by 5pm. I napped for an hour or so before heading home for the night.
A few years ago, this would have never happened. My Thanksgiving routine consisted of me working the morning til 2-3pm, having dinner with my husband's family and then heading out for the night to go Black Friday shopping with my friends. One time we stayed out all night til like 5am. We stopped by the diner for breakfast before I went home, took a 4 hour nap and then headed into work. I was crazy. Nowadays, I prefer to sleep. But I also have slowed down a lot on my shopping. I don't go as crazy as I used to anymore. But there's also nothing left to buy. Victoria's Secret used to have the cutest Black Friday totes and a lot of great deals as well as super cute rhinestoned designs, girly prints and colors. Nowadays, their stuff has gotten really boring. I hate all the trends right now but at the same time, I can't talk because my taste in lingerie has simplified to be more versatile to my outfits. I hate seeing lines underneath or lace texture under a smooth fabric dress. Now I realize why the coupons used to be for basic white, black or nude colored items. They're staples for a reason. Looking back I don't know why I did what I did on Black Friday. Those "deals" aren't really deals. Especially if you don't need it. You just feel the urge to shop because herd mentality. And the shopaholic in me loved it.
I haven't gone Black Friday shopping in years and it's funny because I actually don't miss it despite loving it so much at the time. My income from switching from retail to hospital had a role to play in that, I'm not gonna lie, since I've had to cut back on a lot. I still treat myself every now and then but I've cut down a lot on my recklessness. It's good and bad. I've learned to live without but I've also learned that I CAN live without. I was buying a lot of unnecessaries. I ended up with a lot of stuff I never used or wore. They still even had tags on them. In recent years, I've learned to try and buy what I REALLY want, to ask myself if I'll really used it and how many uses I will get out of it. I try to look for more classic pieces now, that I can see myself wearing over and over again. I do still buy into trends if I find them cute but I try not to go overboard. I'll try to see if they can incorporated into my regular style so it's not a one and done seasonal wear. If I can, I try to sleep on the decision and hold back on impulse purchases. I figure if I’m still thinking about it a week or a month later, then go for it.
I've also learned that sometimes it's worth it to invest more in quality rather than quantity. I won't buy any drugstore makeup anymore because I know it's all garbage and low quality chemicals you're putting on your face. I'll spend a little more for skincare. I used to justify the cheapness of drugstore makeup saying for their prices, I can buy "more" but I wasn't really saving money. Your money is better spent on that quality eyeliner that won't run or smudge, than 10 of those drugstore tubes that will streak and smear before the day is done. You save more when you choose quality instead of buying so many little things instead because "it's a deal." I purged a lot of clothes and makeup from my closet this year and a lot of the makeup I got rid of was drugstore garbage.
I also usually put a wishlist together for my husband and for friends and family who request it because I'm not an easy person to shop for. Actually, I'm both easy and hard. Easy because I have so many things I do like, but hard because I tend to already have bought it for myself or because I'm particular. Just because I like Pokemon doesn't mean I want every piece of garbage merchandise out there. And that's the other thing, I stopped caring about small, dumb knick knacks. I don't care for tchotchkes and useless stocking stuffer gifts that I'll open and do nothing with. This year, I realized when trying to think of birthday gifts for my husband that there isn’t a lot I “want” anymore. And now that Christmas is upon us, I have nothing on my list for that either. At least, nothing I really want that can be wrapped in a box. There are things that I want, but they’re not materialistically attainable. They’re just my own personal goals that I have to work towards for myself. Like maintaining my gym routine and health/fitness habits I developed this year and staying on the wagon. Maybe lose a few more pounds so I’m at a more comfortable rubberbanding weight. I want to set aside more time to read more books. I want to save up for more adventures overseas. More Disney trips. I want to learn to sew my own skirts. I want to be able to run with ease and complete my half marathon next year. But most of all, I want to spend more time with my family. I want happiness and good health for my friends and family, as cheesy and traditionally Asian as it sounds. I want to have a beautiful holiday with my loved ones, sharing good times and laughter. Is this me growing up?
I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I had this year and all the times the stars aligned for me to spend it with the people I love. I hope that in 2019 this pattern continues and grows even more. Count your blessings.