Tag Archives: family traditions

Jar of Awesome Memories, Wacky Races, And Feeling Good … Cartoon-Good

31 Aug

It’s something I look back on and smile because there was so much laughing.

Now granted, there were multiple setbacks leading up to this adventure, which included missing cardboard pieces, multiple duct tape purchases, and the awesome Megalodon shirts I bought for this event getting trapped in my Whirlpool Washer and never being worn. Incidentally, the Sears Repair person has not shown up yet. He missed the appointment and rescheduled days later. My clothes will have been in the washer for 10 days, marinating in water that probably smells like mold, and Sebastian from Sears did nothing to help rectify the situation. I’ve come to the conclusion that Sebastian from Sears sucks. Big time.

But I digress …

Through all the crappy obstacles, the day was rescued by the shark hats we found at Party City. We may not have had the cool shirts, but we were rocking the The Great Whites and Blue Fin Foam Hats.

We brought our feel-good vibe to this event. It was a must! Our fifth year at the cardboard yacht regatta and we needed to show up the only way we knew how, with energy and team spirit.

We were so proud of our shark and Jaws music background:)

You know, I like the fact that it’s become our tradition. I stumbled upon this cool event and as a kid I’d always wanted to participate in a race like this, but there wasn’t anything like this when I was growing up, or at least no where near my neighborhood. So I just woke up in the mornings and watched Hanna Barbara Wacky Races Cartoons and dreamed of one day doing something fun like that. And now I have … five times. Five times with the people I love the most. It felt just as good as I thought it would. I felt cartoon-good.

I’m glad to have discovered this bucket list adventure and that five years later, we’re still going on strong.  This year, the kids, inspired by Shark Week, decided on a Megalodon boat and so I did my best to make it work.

Cardboard, imagination, and the amazing powers of Gorilla Duct Tape. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing this stuff is, but if you’re ever in need to keep something secure and unsinkable. Gorilla Duct Tape is a must!

We stayed afloat, and as I paddled with great vigor and speed, the boat on our right lost control and pushed us into the other lane, but even though it messed us up we kept going. My son did his best as did I, but we came up short. And that was all right, because we smiled and laughed until the end. Winning is fantastic. Flipping over and sinking is memorable. Paddling to the finish line with your son and cracking up as you do it, definitely an Awesome Jar moment.

I mean even though we lost in the end, we enjoyed every minute of it, and I don’t like losing. Neither of us do. But we were o.k. about. We had won the year before and the year before that so we knew how that felt, so losing wasn’t something that burned. The fact that we did it, is what mattered. The building, the taping, the measuring, the mingling with other boat builders during the viewing session, voting on your favorites, and participating in the race itself. All of that is what mattered. We were enjoying the moment. We were in it and that felt good.

My favorite spicy boat

This little piggy surprised everyone and survived multiple races

The winner of fanciest boat. I loved the yellow submarine

Some people worked to the very end. This one was super creative, engineering A+

It was something cool to do with the kids and they always enjoy it. I hope it’s an adventure they’ll remember years from now when they’re older and think back about their childhood and say … ‘remember the times we did the cardboard boat races … maaaaaaaan that was fun … we had fun with mom.’

I hope they feel cartoon-good.

Buen Camino, my friends.

Christmas Tree Auctions, The Denny’s Tree, and My Dad

19 Dec

They bought it from a tree lot located on the corner of a busy street, across from a Denny’s, I think. It was a nice enough looking Christmas tree, but it still wasn’t the same. It was smaller than usual and it wasn’t even cold out when they brought it. I think it was 76 degrees that day.

No coats needed. Probably shorts and a t-shirt.

Growing up, picking up a Christmas tree required flannel underwear, long socks, sweaters, jackets, beanies, mittens and Kleenex. Granted it was probably just 60 degrees, but for this Southern California Guat 60 was cold.

So there we were packed in my dad’s two-tone brown Oldsmobile station wagon making our way to the train tracks somewhere near downtown to the Christmas tree auction.

I guess when most people think of auctions they think of the hoity-toity, with their fancy clothes, bidding thousands and thousands of dollars on boats, cars, or artwork with that small white paddle. We had no paddles here. We had USC sweatshirts and flannels. We had the hand gesture or the nod.

To this day, that is the only type of holiday shopping I have ever enjoyed … ever.

Picking up the tree was an adventure. It didn’t involve parking lots. It involved train box cars filled with Douglas firs being unloaded on cold nights. It involved the smell of fresh trees, and not the smell of the Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast specials. It didn’t involve hostile moms and dads arguing over parking spaces. It involved the excitement of bidding against another dude and his family for the perfect Christmas tree. It involved woo-hooing. It involved sitting on my dad’s shoulders just to check out the auctioneer dude. It involved browsing at trees and people watching. It involved getting hot chocolate with marshmallows from the vendor and holding it tightly in my hands so that my fingers stayed warm. It involved my dad looking at my sister and asking her, “What do you think?” It involved smiling at my dad when he finally won a bid.

Image via 123rf.com

Image via 123rf.com

It involved us freezing our butts off when we returned to the station wagon, because the heater didn’t quite kick in right away. So my mom would give us the blankets she had packed. It involved recapping the evening, jokes and all, on the drive home. It probably involved a nap as well.

The excitement of Christmas tree shopping became an unforgettable Guat family tradition that I think about every year. It became something we looked forward to every holiday season. However with the economy, and I guess other influential factors, the auction block closed down. No more Christmas tree-filled box cars, no more Dad bidding, no more hot chocolate.

This week … this week the Christmas tree was picked up in a parking lot across the street from a Denny’s. I thought about my dad as they dragged it in here in a plastic bag. Once decorated, it was a nice looking tree. Short, but plump, well-rounded. But it’s still not the same. It’s a Denny’s tree.

Horse Racing, Easter Eggs, and Cemeteries.

8 Apr

Easter brings about different traditions in my family. As I mentioned before, when my uncle was alive Easter was filled with brunches, mimosas, Loteria, egg painting, pool parties, egg hunts, and ham dinners.

He was the glue that stuck everyone together. But since his passing there’d been a rift in the family dynamic — a family feud. But my Dad kept it together and tempers simmered as the family continued gathering.

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Easter eggs // Ostereier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since we didn’t own a pool or have a back yard big enough for egg hunts and master art projects for the entire family, my Dad and I created a new tradition upon my uncle’s passing.

The year after Uncle Erick died, his daughter really wanted to go egg hunting. We had no idea that a majority of the egg hunts took place on Saturday and not on Easter. We had no kids in the family back then. She was it. So in an effort to keep the Easter Spirit going, we thought we’d take her to the Arboretum for the big Easter Egg Hunt and brunch. We had it all planned out with everyone coming.

We get there … it’s closed. Egg hunt was Saturday.

She looked at me and my dad with those what-the-hell-just-happened eyes. I felt like a jackass. I looked around. The race track was about a mile from there. Seabiscuit? Why not.

Horse-racing at Del Mar?? Camera: Canon D60, L...

Horse-racing Photo credit: Wikipedia

You want to see some horses?

We piled back in the car, bought some plastic eggs at a nearby Ralphs Supermarket, and made our way to the race track. She saw horses, ate funnel cake, found some eggs, and won four dollars. She had a great time and a good Easter — Guat Style. My Dad had a blast. He loved the excitement of betting on the race, got a laugh from the unique names like Limerock Revenge and Warrens Venedalucy, and smiled as the horses powered through. He liked the movie Seabiscuit, too. So we went back every year for more races, more funnel cake, and more good times.We went to the cemetery to visit my uncle. We told him about the day and how much we missed him. Then headed all the way back to my parents’ place for a nice ham dinner.

This tradition continued until my Dad’s passing. The family divide got bigger. Hatfields vs. McCoys Guat style.

So today it was  just party of four at the race track. My cousins are all grown up. My uncle’s daughter is a young adult deciding between University of Southern California and Boston College. We’re a Trojan Family so as you probably guessed we’re leaning toward one particular school. My mom and aunts just wanted to stay home, away from the heat, but they drank coffee — not iced coffee, hot coffee — and ate champurradas. Go figure.

So, it was party of four racing for plastic eggs, (no crazy parents this time), sliding down the ginormous inflatable Lighting McQueen jumper-slide-thing, painting eggs, playing carnival games, and betting on horses like Ralphy Girl, La Chilena, and Shezabigbroad. We lost twenty dollars and drove back for family dinner.

But before heading back, I made a stop to visit the man who started the  new tradition with me six years ago — my dad. I headed to the cemetery ready to talk to him about our adventure at the track. I took him some lilies, Easter eggs, and the racing program.

Now I know the race track and cemetery aren’t the first thoughts that come to mind when you think Easter. It’s probably more like Jesus and Easter eggs. But when it comes to The Guat, nothing is conventional. Horse racing, Easter eggs and cemeteries — this is the Guat  Easter Celebration.