Family Twist Episode 30: A Family Twist Holiday
This episode’s guest is Rachel Beck, a dear friend, who shares her memories of chosen family holidays with Corey and Kendall.
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This is Family Twist, a podcast about astonishing adoption stories and finding family via DNA magic. I'm Kendall. And I'm Corey, and we've been inseparable partners in life since 03-04-05, also known as March 4, 2005.
In January 2018, our found family journey took us 3000 miles from the San Francisco Bay area to New England, where we now live near my biological father, two half siblings and their families. We love being near them all and the adventure continues. Thanks for joining us again on Family Twist. This is sort of a holiday themed episode of the podcast.
And the theme is sort of celebrating the holidays with chosen family or holiday orphans, as we've sometimes called our guests. Our guest this time around is one of our dear hearts and one of the reasons we actually pulled up stakes for the first time and moved from Missouri to California. It's our wonderful, wonderful friend, Rachel, who is, uh, in California right now as we speak. Sure am. Much longer.
Yes, Rachel will be moving, sticking on the West Coast, but moving soon and pursuing a very exciting career in midwifery. Midwifery. It's midwifery. Midwifery. An exciting career in midwifery. Cory's majoring in vocabulary. Yes, I guess. As if you folks couldn't tell, we're keeping this one a little fast and loose, but hey, that's what the holidays are all about, right? So.
Oh, Rachel and I have been celebrating the holidays together for, gosh, I don't know, probably close to 30 years at this point. I will say the, once Kendall and I first moved to the Bay Area in California, you know, we only knew a couple of people. And Rachel hooked us up with an invite for Thanksgiving orphans at a very unique celebration. You remember that one, Rach? Is that the one with the jail?
There was a jail cell in the room. I think it was not necessarily for actually keeping people locked up. Well, who knows? Maybe it was. Well, but we like an S&M jail, right? Right. We discovered that this one of the functions of this of this space was filming adult movies. Yes. Not while we were there. No, no. Yes. I don't think we knew that before we got there either. That was fun, though.
Man, welcome to, welcome to California. Huh? Yes. It was a definitely our first time having Turducken and the first time we've celebrated a holiday in a porno studio. Yep. First and only really. I was just, yeah, that's both of those have not happened again for me. You've been away from your family kind of off and on for a long time now. So like the whole concept of.
chosen family holiday celebrations is not a new one to you. Like how do you sort of describe it? I left St. Louis for the first time when I was 18. I'd been in California for 15 years, but I've lived other places beyond that. I mean, I've always loved Christmas. I've never loved Thanksgiving. And frankly, Thanksgiving with friends is a thousand times better than family. I don't know that I would ever go back to St. Louis to celebrate Thanksgiving, because I just don't care. And it's-
fun with friends because you don't have to eat turkey and you get to do whatever you want and yeah, I love it. I'm with you, yes. We have not been back to St. Louis to celebrate Thanksgiving with family since we left for California either. And well, part of it is it's just ridiculously expensive, you know, just to fly in. It's, you know, the busiest time of the year at the airport. So and yeah, I think there is something to the whole.
getting together with friends and funky recipes and introducing different people. And it's just, you know, I think that there's, there's something really special about that. And I think it's, you know, I mean, you know, talk about it's a time to be thankful. It's like, well, okay, now we can be thankful for meeting these new people. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, your, your family is always going to be there and that's nice, you know, but like you are, when you're with friends, you are choosing that. It's not being chosen for you.
I know Kendall and I hosted at least three or four Thanksgivings in our spacious 900 square foot townhouse in Alameda, California, where we had like, I think half the people were in the kitchen slash dining room. Half the people were extended into the living room because that's just the way the tables had to go. And or the patio. Yeah. Right. I think we did actually do one outside on the patio one year where we grilled a turkey.
So that was a ton of fun. Yeah. That was Christmas. Yes, we did a Christmas one there and that was, I think was that our second Christmas in California? And I did a Chipino. And then that was, so Rachel was there, her parents were there, my friend Jen was there as well. And.
I surprised everybody because that's when I introduced my first book. So I think everybody got to open a copy of my book. Oh, that's great. Yeah, that was good. That was great. So, you know, Kendall brought something up this past week that I had kind of forgotten a little bit about, but maybe you could give us a little bit of a history about it. It's a tradition that your family has done, and we've been lucky enough to witness a couple of these, but you do a gift wrapping contest.
Yes, yes. Well, we haven't been together in a little bit, but yes, and it gets very competitive. Um, it started one year when I was in high school and my mom called me home from my boyfriend's house and, you know, to come home immediately. We didn't have cell phones. I was on a landline. I thought something was wrong and she had all the lights off in the house and had the
Um, and like this music playing this like, ah, sort of angel singing. And that, that started it. Wow. And my immediate reaction is, oh yeah. And then I don't remember what I made the second year, but yeah, it got very. Elaborate. Um, yeah. Tara once made a Trojan horse out of popsicle sticks.
with the belly of the Trojan horse that opened and the gift fell out. I once flew it into the room with a bunch of like helium balloons and a basket underneath and then like flew that in. Yeah, I miss those days. You and your mom and cousin Tara, I've just got, it became sort of insanity. But I think we were there for the one where
a dox and actually like on a sled brought the gift. Yeah, that was me. Yeah, that was so cute. Yeah, we made a little sled to pull behind Daisy. I had some help from Lainey Janczewski for that one. She did assist me in that one. Okay, cool. I think, didn't you also do one where you like made Christmas paper out of like photos of family members or something? Yeah, I took old photos from all the old family members and yeah.
But that was the year my mom had the same idea and made a photo bag with the old different friends so we cancelled each other out. And then one year she brought Santa Claus in to hand out presents and declared herself the winner, which Tara and I both strongly disagreed about because that's not rapping. That's a special guest. Yeah. And the present that he gave us, I mean it was wrapped, but it wasn't, you know.
I'm still bitter about that one because she just decided it and declared it and no one could say anything else about it. So, Tara and I have more to say. Do you have a running tally as to who won the most times? No, that's weird we don't. No, and it's been years. I feel like that would be a nice point of bragging. For sure. Yep, like stats. Yeah. Yeah, so that was...
We've had some great holidays with your family. And another one that comes to mind, I think this was a Thanksgiving as well, where we had a tasting competition. The Jones soda brand for a couple of years as a very clever marketing thing. I think very first they created Turkey flavored soda, and then they expanded it to a whole holiday line. So it was, you know, Turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes.
green bean casserole. Oh, God. Some kind of, I think it might have been like Christmas tree flavored or something. I think like a figgy pudding and you know, it was, yeah. So we would, you know, all sit around a big table. I know one year I think we did it at your parents' house and then one year we did it at a bowling alley after Thanksgiving. I feel like the bowling alley was maybe the first. Maybe it was. Or was it my parents' house that was first? I think so because we had Scott there.
And that was the year someone threw up a little bit. Yeah. I think Scott, like I think, and I believe it was the turkey and gravy that did it, if I'm not mistaken. Yeah, that'll do it. I just remember them all being very starchy and they were sweet, but you know, like they shouldn't have been, you know, I don't remember really a turkey, like the turkey flavor really never came through. The absolute worst one for me, the one that made me really sick to my stomach was mashed potatoes.
Really? Yeah. And I remember being sort of like a milky white, translucent. Everybody likes that in a soda. Darchy, like butter, but it had a fake butter flavor too. Right, yes. The cranberry was always the best, but you didn't want the best. He liked to make us say. What I would do is record the tasting and kind of like do like a sort of a play by play.
quotes of like, okay, well, what does it taste like? And what is your reaction? And, you know, most people's like gut reaction was just like a foul face and like wanting to spit it out. For me, I think the green bean casserole was the was the oh god green bean casserole was so gross. Yeah, the color was awful. Yes. You know, if they still make those. I don't know. I think that every once in a while they'll do like a turkey one. I don't think they do the full run anymore, which probably for good reason.
I thought it would sell, but anyway. Oh yeah, I'm going to a Christmas party on Saturday. I would happily bring that as the hostess gift. We should have just like, rather than, because I think, you know, really hardly any of it got drank. We ended up, I think, probably discarding three quarters of the honey. I should have just saved it every year and then brought it out. Oh god. In the same bottle every year, like, all right. Tastes about the same in year three. Year seven mashed potatoes.
Oh, God. Yeah, that was a good one. I mean, yeah, that was a tradition I really liked. I mean, I looked forward to it, but I also knew it was going to make me sick. So it was a weird, you know. Yeah, because of course, we're doing it after a full day of eating a lot of food, rich food and, you know, probably having some wine and some beer and, you know, like, let's put some gravy soda on top of it. And then try to bowl because that'll work. Yes. Oh, God. Right.
I don't even know that we so much went to the bowling alley to bowl. It was just the only place that was open on Thanksgiving, which, and I don't know why they were open on Thanksgiving, but they were. People like us. That's always my favorite. We all had to spend all day with our families, but we got to see each other. It's easy, right? When you're bowling, it's not no stress for the, you know. It's intermittent talking, but it's fun. I would love to do that if I ever get back there.
Yeah, I imagine that bowling alley is still standing. I probably, I hope so. Yeah. Well, I mean, the Dungeness crabs were always my favorite part when you guys got here, because they come into season, right? At Thanksgiving. So I think when we all realized we can have this instead of turkey, it was. Uh, well, I mean, I couldn't kill them, but I was, you know, happy to go grab them. If I could. And I will say, I mean, Dungeness crab. Um.
is I like it better than lobster. You know, it's 100%. Yeah, it's you know, it's just the meat is fantastic. I mean, they're, they're kind of a pain in the butt to like, crack and clean and get the meat out of it. I mean, you're putting in some work. If you're doing a dungeness crab, like a whole crab, but well worth it. I think. Yeah. And it's, and I'd never heard of them until
we moved to California. So that, you know, doing that chipino was sort of like my first experience with like cooking whole crab and cause it was like it's crab and it's fish and it's shrimp and it's muscles and clams. And yeah, it is. Well, I had a hookup for seafood that year, so that was great. Last year, there was a shortage on Dungeness crabs and it got, it got real crazy around here.
Oh, I bet. I'm sure the like the price per pound was insane. Oh, it was insane. Yeah. Like all the dudes that you kind of would know, like I used to have a dude that could call somebody else like a drug deal or something, but it's for crabs. But now this year they were, you know, they were, I guess they were overfished or they didn't come down. I don't know. And no, no dudes to be found. No dudes, no off the cuff dudes to be found to give me crab. Yes, that's that's a sad holiday indeed. It was. Yeah.
driving around with them in the back of your car all day and they're making that clicking sound in your back seat and it's freaky. It is. But once you get a mouthful of that crab meat, it's all worth it. I just can't cook them. Someone else has to do it, but I'll go get them. Yeah. It's a little bit challenging because you've got to think about what you're doing and you're literally like got...
got a live moving crab and like a pair of tongs or whatever and you can feel it moving through the top. It's like oh sorry. Can I tell you about the one I did that my first one that I tried to do and he put him in and put the pot on or the lid on and then all of a sudden you hear the pot clang to the floor and he had put his little crab claws on the side of the pot and was pulling himself up out of the water and I just ran screaming from the room. Yeah that's a uh
He deserves to live. Right. He was fighting hard. He was. And I respect that. Yeah. So but somebody poked him back into the pot, I'm assuming. Yeah, not me, but yes. Yeah. OK. Yes. Did you eat that one, too? No, probably. Oh, good.
Well then, oh, then we have to talk about the Thanksgiving where Corey tried to kill us all. Yes, that was, um, that was pretty crazy. I actually had never told this story, uh, to Kendall's family before until this Thanksgiving. And yeah, so we kind of had this weird Thanksgiving tradition of not necessarily going to shop.
Black Friday sales at 4 a.m. at Walmart, but we would go to mock the people. So, you know, typically, you know, like as Rachel said, Thanksgiving day was spent with the family, and then we would all get together either at somebody's house or bowling alley after, you know, there's probably a group of like six to eight of us. And I want, I think this particular year, I went over to your parents' house for dessert.
because I remember you and I ate pie off the same fork. Yes. Which we'll find that was not a good idea. I think it was my freshman year of college and your sophomore, does that sound right? Junior, junior. Junior, okay. Yeah. And so, as a junior in college, you were traditionally not getting enough sleep, burning the candle at both ends, staying out super late and you know.
all the things, you know, and of course, then around a holiday, you're not going to get a ton of rest either. So, but this, it started out as just like a normal Thanksgiving and went over to our friend Scott's place because that's where we kind of hung out and stayed up all night before we went to the Black Friday thing. And it was like one or one thirty in the morning and I was just like feeling like really run down. And so I told everybody, I'm like, hey, I'm going to just, I'm going to go home. I'm going to sleep for like two hours and come back.
And so that did not happen. I went home and slept like the next morning had like the worst headache and neckache that I'd ever had in my life. Like I was standing at the bathroom sink and like passing out in front of the sink. And then the rest of this was told to me. So then I guess, I don't know how long went by, but my sister walked by the room and I was sitting in the middle of a bedroom floor
tearing up magazines and was non-responsive to her. So she called my brother in, they called 911, ambulance shows up. I was in my underwear that I was like fighting the ambulance, the EMTs that were trying to put, you know, t-shirt and pajama bottoms on me. And- Let me be brave. Right. And yeah, took me to the hospital and luckily they had the-
I guess some of the signs were there that they did a spinal tap and I had had spinal meningitis and was, uh, in a medically induced coma for the next six days. So in the meantime, and how did you find out what had happened to me? Um, someone called me, I think it was your mom maybe. And she asked if I, we, you and I had had contact that day and I was like, yeah, he was over here. We were eating pie.
And she's like, were you eating off the same for, oh yeah, we were eating off the same fork. She's like, and then she told me he has meningitis and I'm going to need to take medicine. And I was like, holy crap, this is bad. Like this is not so I called Scott and James maybe Scott and somebody and they were on their way back to school and they turned around and started driving back. And we all met in the hospital where you were in a coma. Yes.
Rick and terrifying and then all the doctors come around and handed us pills that were like, it's the pills they give you when you get anthrax poisoning. Yes, Cipro. So that was the first time I'd ever heard of Cipro because yeah, they I mean, everybody who had been in contact with it, they could find, you know, was like, I remember they gave a bottle of pills to my friend
the gay clubs that I frequented at the time. And he just went around to anybody that he knew that we were like mutual friends with and were like, you seen Cory in the last week? Yeah, take one of these. My mother went through my wallet and called any phone number she found in there. Oh no. Yes. And they were a few. Oh God. This is before Kendall. This was before. This is, yes. Okay, yes. This is, this is.
Salad days. This is years before Kendall. You know what? He was never much of a partier at all. Like he was never a crazy partier, but the one time he does go have some fun, he winds up with meningitis. Right, yes. And it was, yeah. I thought it was meningococcal, not spinal. Well, meningococcal is a form of spinal. Oh, is it? Yeah, it's bacterial and viral. Okay, gotcha. So of course I had the bad one.
Yeah, I mean, it was, I think it was scary for everybody except for me. By the time I was sort of back to my right mind, I was just ready to get out of a hospital because you know, it's like, it's no fun being in a hospital. They were coming in every two hours to give me some kind of injection on my stomach, you know, and catheter, IVs. I mean, the first thing I remember is waking up and having a tube down my throat.
Yeah, it was terrifying too. Yeah, so it was kind of tainted Thanksgiving for a couple of years. Now we can laugh. Geez, that was a couple of years ago. But yeah, so that was 24 years ago. Geez. Oh, Jesus. I know. It's because you're old. Yes. And, you know, thank goodness no permanent whatevers because, I mean, I did find out, like when the, I think it was the day after I got home.
the CDC called and was trying to get some information. And at the time I worked part-time at Barnes and Noble and somebody who worked at the grocery store in that same shopping center also got it and died. Whoa. Yeah. That's a nice cheery thought for our holiday episode. Yes it is. Now we get to be grateful that we have you. That's right. The good news is Cory didn't die. Right, exactly, yeah.
But, you know, so Kendall and I kind of have a tradition or had a tradition that once we moved away from St. Louis is that we would always send a gift with our faces on it. So like there's, there are pillows and cutting boards, all sorts of stuff. And I think the, the last, because it hasn't, we haven't had a big family Christmas since COVID. So the one before that.
we sent literally like a life-size Cory and Kendall standee so we could be there for Christmas. So they could all take photos with us and yeah. Do inappropriate. That's ridiculous and really funny. Yeah, it was fun. So, you know, it's just kind of our way of being there. So we are keeping up that tradition to a certain degree because
our dear friends and also family members, cousins, moved to Switzerland this year. And so, and they had been living in the Boston area for the last couple of years. So we've been able to do Christmas with them the last two years, which is great. This will be the first year that we're not together. So we are sending a little something very personalized to them. And I'm looking forward to them taking photos with it so we can post it on social. Oh my god, I can't wait. Yeah.
What have you guys been doing this year? What's your plan? So this is actually kind of fun. Kind of talk a little bit about the the Christmas party we're going to this weekend. Yeah, this will be the only the second time we've gotten to go. Yes. Yeah. We moved here in 2018. And of course, we're just getting to know my dad and my brother and sister that are the local family. And, you know, very quickly.
Actually, the day after we arrived, even visiting before we moved here, we met my dad's ex-wife, who's the mother of my brother and sister. And she was, I've mentioned this before on the podcast, that her name's Anna, she's just a wonderful person. She immediately hugged me and said, oh, honey, you were the baby that we wished we could find and just really made me feel like, you know, part of the family.
she invited Cory and me to her family's get-together that of course my brother and sister usually go to. And we went in 2018. And then I don't remember why we didn't go in 2019 because it was obviously before COVID and then they really haven't had one since. So they are having it again this Saturday and we're going.
and it I don't remember how many people were there. I think 70, 70. It's what? Yeah. My stepmother, my she's I guess she's actually my ex stepmother. She's one of several siblings. I want to say there are six of them. Something like I'm making that up, but I think I'm right. And so their children come and then a lot of their children have children. So it and then extended family to like family friends that
my brother and sister knew, you know, that were, that were our parents' age, you know. And so it was just a really fun time and it was at my stepmother's brother's house. And I think it's at the same place this year. It is, and you know, they do the fun like, rob your neighbor and they do like this lottery ticket raffle thing. And there's a Christmas trivia contest and they have the best.
Santa I've ever seen and and Mrs. And Mrs. Claus. Yeah, it's like you almost wish the party was in November So you could get a picture taken that would be your Christmas card every year Okay, yeah, so that's kind of a you know, I mean we're there will be some family there and then and then Family of family that kind of thing. So that's our that's our big to do This year
That's great. Yeah, it'll be fine. I really, we really need to do at least a holiday again soon. Yeah. For sure. I bet we can make that happen next year. Yeah. Maybe. I mean, I don't know what school's gonna bring, but yeah, I really miss everybody, so. I bet. Yeah. It's been, you know, it's been, we've enjoyed our time here, don't get me wrong, but.
we moved here and we were here for just a couple of years before COVID hit. So it feels like, and I'm not blaming anything except the situation, but we really, honestly, we haven't made too many friends here and we haven't really tried to because for as a long time it made sense to stay in the house. Right. Yeah. I mean, I think, yeah. And you know, we're not unique in that the pandemic robbed us all of.
holidays with family and friends, you know, for years now. So it's just, now we're just sort of like dipping our toes back in the water and figuring out, you know, what that looks like today. So it's, you know, yeah, it's, we got our first taste of winter a couple of days ago. So we may have a white Christmas too. It's kind of looking like that might be in the forecast. So.
Yeah. Obviously we're not gonna have one here, but I've been getting pictures from where I'm going to be living and it's a white everything all the time there. Oh. There you go. That'd be fun. Yeah. That's for me. No, I hear you. But I'll be so busy that I probably won't have much of a chance to notice. Right. There you go. Right. Yeah. Well, I tell ya, Corey has become the expert on using our snow blower. I still am kinda scared of the thing.
It's an enormous contraption. It kind of worries me. But I think the deepest I've done is 16 inches. So that's plenty. Yeah. Wow. It's a lot. Yeah. And we've got a steep driveway. We really do. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Definitely. The SUV can go up, but our poor little Volkswagen Beetle does not like that driveway. No, unless it's clear. You got a Beetle?
Yeah, yes, we have a little green beetle. Yeah Yeah Probably not the wisest choice for New England. No Reason it was a good price Well, Rachel, we know how insanely busy you are. So thank you so much for Lack Lester on this we should have all gotten drunk before we did. I know. Yeah, I know Well, we can make it a tradition than the next year. We'll definitely We don't have to wait a year, but yeah
I love you guys so much. I really miss the holidays with you. The best holidays I've ever had have been with you guys. Oh! Family Twist features original music from Cosmic Afterthoughts and is presented by Savoir Faire Marketing Communications.