There were no presents tied in bows for the Garcia-Sanchez family, the sounds and traditions of Christmas were their gifts this year.
"We make tamales to spend our day on Christmas," said Maria Garcia.
Something they enjoyed for the first time -- in their own home.
"When it was already done, I said, 'this is my house?' This is your house, when they gave me the key, my God," said Garcia.
They waited two years to get it -- a three-bedroom Habitat for Humanity house for low-income families, built on a vacant car wash site in Alameda.
Jesus Sanchez thought it would never be possible.
"For me, for us, I think I'd never get one. It's too expensive," said Sanchez.
The parents and three teenage children worked hard, helping to build the house they now own.
They spent their first Christmas enjoying the customs of their native Mexico, centered around the kitchen table and the nativity scene.
It's a long way -- but just across the street from the life they left behind. For five years they slept in a one-bedroom apartment, the children in one room, mom and dad in a sleeping bag on the living room floor.
The two boys share a room and Zaira, the only daughter, gets her own. Maria remembers the first morning they woke up here.
"I was waiting to receive this house and I said to my mom, 'we have a house in the United States.' I cried," said Garcia.
It's the best Christmas gift they've ever received.