School starts tomorrow, so it’s the last time I can reflect about being home for the holidays and it still be relevant. It’s so much different as an adult in grad school going home for the holidays. My bedroom is no longer mine. It’s honestly barely a bedroom. It’s full of boxes my sister and I dumped on my parents after we both moved out. I don’t come home for as long as I used to and I often bring my boyfriend along with me. As different as it is though, there are a few reliable staples about going home that I’ll forever appreciate.
I’m so fucking lucky when it comes to food. My dad makes incredible food all the time, just because he loves to cook. He’ll make full on meals because he got a new appliance, or a dessert because he saw a version of it on Food Network and wants to try it out.
My two younger siblings don’t always appreciate it, or eat it so I always have a lot of leftovers to choose from. Also, because I’m home, my parents are more inclined to add my favorite foods to their shopping menus which allows me to take photos of my most instagramable foods cause their kitchen has beautiful natural light.
But in all seriousness it’s one of the best parts about being home. I love being the taste tester for my dad and since my friends all work at high end restaurants, I also get to try a fair amount of the food from their restaurants. They work at restaurants I can’t afford of a student/nanny budget, but because they’re amazing they always seem to slip an extra bowl of patatas bravas, glass of Red or tray of salumi my way. And don’t even get me started on their food connections. I didn’t even realize the food industry was so close knit until I went out to restaurants with my food industry friends. I’ve tried so many random foods while eating out with them just because they gave a chef a free drink at their restaurant once and they want to return the favor with a rare fish or gourmet pizza. I will gladly ride the coattails of my friends’ food industry perks until we all get dope ass jobs where we be like Harry Potter on his first ride in the Hogwarts express and casually say “we’ll take the lot!”
Although we celebrate Christmas, my family also celebrates Kwanzaa. And I think we do it in the most special way. For those who don’t know, Kwanzaa was invented 50 years ago as a celebration of African American culture. It’s not religious, but has some similarities to Christmas or Hanukah where there is a candle holder that is lit every day, family and friends join to celebrate, there’s tons of food and the occasional present. For over ten years we’ve been celebrating Kwanzaa with my neighbors and it’s an absolute delight. We go to different houses each night, casually discuss the night’s principles, recognize and pay respects to certain people and then eat. Kwanzaa is such a slept on holiday that deserves more recognition. With no religious affiliations or gift giving requirements, it’s just an excuse to talk about how dope it is to be black with your black friends and family. How cool!? I’m incredibly thankful that we’ve kept this tradition going for so long.
The New Parkway Theater
I cannot rave about this Oakland gem enough. Every single time the lights dim and their personalized pre-credits begin to roll while I’m munching on buttery popcorn and working on my pitcher of local beer, I get this incredibly warm feeling in my stomach. There’s no other way to describe this place other than wonderful.
Whenever I’m home I always make an effort to go see as many movies as I can there. The staff are some of the friendliest people I’ve come across working at a theater. It’s the kind of theater that makes you feel so at home and it helps that the seats are all couches and love seats. You can order burgers, salads, paninis that are brought straight to your seat. The movie selection is always on point. They have a great combination of independent films, big budget movies and cult classics and they host the occasional film festival whether it be shorts or animated. It really is a gem of a theater and I have yet to find one that matches it’s quality. Honestly The New Parkway Theater probably deserves an entire post, but it truly is one of my favorite parts about being home in Oakland.