Northbound: Spending Thanksgiving at home

How did Turkey Day treat you this year? Surprisingly, mine left me overwhelmed with joy.

Ostensibly, my Thanksgiving break was something of a somber occasion. I rented a truck and drove up to Northern California to celebrate with my parents, as well as haul back many of my prized possessions from my childhood.

My parents still live in the home they purchased more than 20 years ago, when I was in my early teens and attending high school.

I often joke that my childhood bedroom is a museum to my early years, and should stay that way forever for posterity’s sake. No more.

My parents are currently renovating their home, and so they needed me to haul away many of the things I remember fondly from my childhood, and store them in my own garage back in Carlsbad. Old baby clothes and school uniforms. The black belt I earned in tae kwon do. Toys and playsets. Cherished memories.

They asked if I wanted any of their old furniture; I immediately pointed to their large, heavy formal dining table, that’s currently used as a work/laptop station.

When I was younger, that table was used for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, for bringing our family together for special occasions. It’s been in our family possession for about 40 years — my parents purchased it from a family friend. I don’t know what I’ll do with it — but I want to one day have a family of my own to share it with.

As is often the case, my parents needed help with projects around the house.

Over the course of two days, my Dad and I built a large cement bed for a new external gas tank, and demolished an old wooden outdoor deck with mostly a crowbar and hammers (all in the pouring rain).

I’ve never done anything like demo work before. I highly recommend it for those interested in getting a workout in, or want to experience the thrill of destroying something to build something better.

Perhaps all those memories, and the passage of time, would make some feel melancholy, nostalgic for the past, and resistant to change. I wondered if I was going to part with my parents, choking back tears, as I did often with my grandparents in later years. Instead, I unexpectedly spent most of my time with them laughing, making jokes, having fun — I lived in the moment, and I found joy there.

Change will happen, both good and bad. Many times we can’t stop it from occurring. What we do have control of is our attitude about it. Me — I will choose happiness, share joy and celebrate life with those I have in the present. It’s not easy to choose happiness, but once you do, and you do often, it will be reflexive, effortless.

Choose happiness.

Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.

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