Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

Dedicated to my sister Holly, who thought my parents made up the songs for her ("Oh Holly Night", etc.):

L.A. has little in the way of season changes.  Sure, the Jacarandas only flower mid June-July, and the Santa Ana winds of the fall power the intense fires in the hills and turn the sky a deep reddish orange, but, compared to many other regions of the world, this isn't quite how it works. So, naturally, Christmas in July, to a small child of this city looks completely possible. Something that I think/hope explains why I used to pester my 
mother at this time of year when Christmas was coming.  I can apparently wait a full year for all other holidays, including my own birthday, but I still believe Christmas should come every six months.  I think this lack of proper weather changes also explains why, the first snow I saw in Scotland this year sent me into a sort of tizzy. Even the fact that my roommate downgraded it to "frost", when woken up by me excitedly, failed to damper my spirits.  Sure, I've seen snow on holiday before, but there is something magical about having a place you know very well suddenly transformed into "a winter wonderland"... which, during our first actual snowfall post-frost incident, sang nonstop.

However, the thing that makes my L.A. Christmas magical, the thing that makes it my favorite holiday are the traditions.  It all begins the night before....

First, we make sure all the presents are under the tree, and then, while the little lights in the tree dance, we set about the serious business of making mince pies.  It is an exercise in patience, as we cannot eat them until tomorrow. Tonight, the only one eaten is by Santa, along with a glass of milk and a carrot for the reindeer.

Then it's off to bed to listen to my father read "The Night Before Christmas", a children's picture book, while the stockings hang on our beds with anticipation.  We never grow too old, and always pretend to find new things about the pictures.

I used to have a set time, before which I was NOT allowed to wake up my older sister.  I'd count down the minutes until that appointed hour, grab my heavy stocking and rush into her room to examine our prizes together.  My parents still ask what Santa brought.

A lazy breakfast of scrabbled eggs with a hint of truffle is followed by an even lazier (and horribly tormenting) getting ready.  Then the big moment arrives:  Opening presents, with powdered
sugar topped mince pies, pink champagne, and mulled hot apple juice.  Handel's Messiah playing loudly.

Then on to the cooking.  My dog and I sit at the kitchen's edge and pine for the wondrous smells, but we both know that a venture into the tiny and packed kitchen is not a good idea.  "OUT!"

Saved from the delicious scents at last, a  long "emtpying" walk is had... to empty the stomach in preparation.

And, at last, the food arrives.  Bowls and dishes, pots and gravy boats, all filled to the brim, dish out scrumptious items onto the table miraculously decorated by my father (he measures equal spaces between the plates with a tape measure).  The candles are lit, and the fire is roaring, for, although there is no snow, it is still Christmas.  The climax of the meal is the pud.  A rather icky mixture which includes rum and suet (animal fat), Christmas pudding is perhaps the most bizarre British recipe I know, as it is boiled for 8 
hours, stuffed in a cupboard for a year, and then covered with more rum and set on fire.  Ahh, those Brits!  We have it (or the veggie version in my case) and lots of cream to go with.

Then, when we doubt our clothes ability to withstand the bloated tum, and we have retired to comfy chairs by the fire.  We listen to Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales".

A good Christmas all around, with its most important elements: traditions, lots of good food, and a wonderful family.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


  1. Merry Christmas in July. No matter where you are or what region you live in Christmas is always a special time of year! Oh goodness I couldn't imagine Christmas every six months!!

  2. Wonderful post, merry Christmas in JULY!

  3. HO HO HO!

    I came in from the warm and sun,
    To find that Christmas has begun!

    What an amazing Christmas to have, I love your traditions! The stocking is always my favorite part. My mom still makes us all a huge stocking full of little things, junk mostly but still the best part I'll always treasure! Thank you for sharing your traditions with us!

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Rest of Your Year!

  4. Very Sweet! (poor holly, tee hee!)
    My parents would barricade the hallway so we oculdnt get into the livingroom until they woke up, hee!
    I like all of your traditions though i have no clue how to make mincemeat pie!
    Have a lovely christmas in july!
    xoxoxox Rhonda roo

  5. Merry Christmas in July! I enjoyed your post...have a fabulous day!!


  6. I'm already longing for Christmas about this time of the year, and your lovely Christmas in July post made me really wish it was here for real.
    I love your Christmas traditions :) I always wondered what was in Christmas pudding...icky is right.

  7. Merry Christmas in July from sunny Southern CA. I get so tired of the relentless, never-ending sunshine, and am envious of your Scottish snow.

    Thanks for such a lovely post!!!

  8. What wonderful Christmas traditions you have! Thanks so much for sharing. Merry Christmas in July! Stop by for a visit any time.
    ~Bella (Beauty Does Matter)

  9. Happy Christmas in July!

    I just loved your pictures and story, mmm could do with a bit of that pudding now!

    xxx DJ

  10. hmmm, my mom thought the flags were put out on flag day for her birthday....good for Holly. With only four more posts to party with to go, I'm grateful I don't have to drive home.Ha!thanks for having me. HiHoHo, Heidi

  11. Wonderful memories - thanks for sharing!

    Merry Christmas in July!

  12. yes! to all a good night! merry christmas in july~! it was nice visiting!

  13. Merry X'mas! I'm a little hungry now! Thanks for sharing!

  14. so can't believe you eat that stuff! merry christmas in july :)

  15. Merry Christmas in July, I heart your post & enjoyed your blog! I am following you know!

  16. Mmmm.. the pictures are so good. And your little sleeping mouse is just too cute.

    Merry Julymas!

  17. I get excited at the site of snow myself,but we dont see snow here.We wold have to drive a few hrs away to get any at all.
    Merry Christmas!

  18. What a delightful, well written post. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing your Christmas celebrations through this post.

    Merry Christmas in July, my dear!
    ♥ Jessica