Four months trekking through Central and South America, its nice to be back to the comforts of home. Nestled safely in the bosom of my family, I have much to be thankful for, and one goal this Navidad: to not get stuck with the breast pump in our White Elephant exchange.

We have a breast pump that has gone around EVERY YEAR for as long as I can remember…..and I’m not ready for it. I dont want the Simpsons chia pets either! I personally went to the dollar store in Concord to purchase the most spectacularly awesome White Elephant ensemble…i mean who doesnt want a calendar with horses and fairy watercolors on it? Or Bling sunglasses? Or a jumping spider gag? Exactly. No one wants it. I hope my mom opens it up.

We throw a pretty crazy Christmas. I have like….a billion people in my family, rounding up a little, and we eat and drink and sing and play guitar and Wii all day, usually changing into sweatpants to eat and drink some more later, and our present giving version of Christmas is a lot like Michael Scott’s: “Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth.” Well thats not entiiiirely true. We love Jesus a lot and I’m stoked its his birthday and can’t wait to go to midnight church tonight and belt out some sweet carols (Little Drummer Boy, can that song BE any more fun to sing? Barump a bump bummmmm) But its true, we are really, really into presents. Probably because we have a ton of little kids around who still believe in Santa Claus, which makes Christmas way more fun.

My mom says in second grade for show and tell, I went to school and told everyone that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Because I was a brat like that. Apparently she received several angry phone calls from parents of children who now hated life. Whoops!

Those early morning memories were magical, weren’t they? These days, my mom usually has to come in to wake us up because we’re all sleeping in until eight or so and she can’t stand it any more. But when we were little, the three of us would be waking up at the crack of dawn, checking to see if Santa ate the cookies and if the reindeer ate the carrots, and Santa always left a note thanking us. Finding all sorts of fun stuff in our stockings. like Tiger Beat magazines, pony tails, and our favorite candy. We always ate flaky Grands biscuits and bacon and drank orange juice. We always got new warm fuzzy pajamas from our Great Grandma. I remember being little and waking up on Christmas Day and seeing piles and piles of presents that hadnt been there the night before and thinking life could not get better. Great Christmas presents included a My Little Pony mansion, bikes of course, roller blades when those were the hotness, my first cd player, Geo Safari (best game EVER), a video camera, my Pleasant Hill blanket, puppies, etc. This year I really want some warm clothes and socks. Its freaking freezing in the USA! I’m watching my hard earned Peruvian summer tan fade, defiantly walking around everywhere in skirts and flip flops, and hating it. I wanna go back.

Now that I’m home and running around in the holiday craziness and trying to remember where I left things like my phone charger when I packed up and left four months ago, or how to drive my car, its easy to forget how tired I was getting of traveling, how much I just wanted a hot shower, or to not wash my clothes by hand, or to sit down on a toilet, and all I want to do is take my still unpacked backpack, throw it on and hitch hike somewhere I’ve never been.

The whole time we were traveling, I kept waiting for a huge moment of clarity that would come to me and tell me what I was supposed to do with my life when I came back home, what direction I was supposed to take. I was searching for my personal legend, for that flash of my future that would tell me how I was supposed to grow up when I returned to the States.

But the moment never came. All that was really ignited in me was a passion for more travel. I dont want to grow up and get a job and have a salary and start a career here in the Bay Area or back in Santa Barbara. I just want to keep exploring this great big awesome world we’re in! I want to sleep on beds that make me ache all day, never take a hot shower, drink horrible hostel coffee in the morning because its free, wear the same four shirts in rotation for months at a time, eat street food and wander through the mercados trying fruits I’ve never seen and try not to get diarrhea, walk around in a village and get so lost I feel a little scared, sit next to crowing roosters on ridiculously long bus rides, not knowing where I’m going or if my luggage will make it there with me. I want to stumble on random holiday parades for saints and deities and independence I didn’t know about, and walk alone in jungles and spy monkeys in trees, and camp on deserted islands and try not to get hit by fallen coconuts and take ten pictures of everything I see.

But who knows what the future holds? I don’t. I just hope its awesome. So if anyone wants to go do something awesome, too, lemme know! I’m into that.

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