Tall Drink of Nerd: Cold Day at the Beach and Other Christmas Traditions
A blogumn by Amy Robinson
Last Thursday, known to most of you as Christmas Day, I braved Santa Monica pier with my handsome husband Seen. It was freezing. Many of you are thinking, “Hey, lady who lives in Los Angeles… It was blizzarding here in [insert Northern/Eastern/Mountain town name here] You don’t know cold.” Oh, I know cold. Colorado is where I was born and raised. I remember days when it was too cold to snow. Then I spent my 20’s in Chicago. I know that if you get stuck waiting for the 151 bus to take you downtown in January, the wind rises off Lake Michigan to whistle through all 3 layers of your coat, scarf, and clothes then bites into your flesh, your viscera and settles in your bones. It’s a bitter and painful cold.
On Christmas Day of 2008, the Santa Monica Pier was cold. The rain was not so much falling on us as slicing at my face in a horizontal pattern. On any other rainy day I would have tucked my hiney under a blanket and vegged out to the flicker of A Christmas Story on TBS. But we have a Christmas tradition, hubby and I, we go to the beach at Christmas.
I grew up with tradition. We always went to my maternal Grandmother’s on Christmas Eve. We always listened to the same three Christmas albums on the record player while we baked cookies, made candies and wrapped presents. We always used the same decorations on the tree and each kid in my family had their set of ornaments to decorate with. My favorite Christmas tradition was waking up between 3:00 and 4:00 AM on Christmas morning and sneaking into the living room with my sister to see what Santa had put under the tree. Santa always left the best presents unwrapped and piled in separate piles for each of us. “Santa” AKA Bob and Sally Henry, kept this tradition going even when I was in high school and my sister would visit from college over the holidays. They only skipped one year.
It was the first year I was in the family, 6 months old exactly at Christmas. Santa “forgot” to put the presents out. “Santa” had 5 kids, 10 years to 6 months old, it’s easy to see how this might have happened. Fortunately, as the family of dejected children left the house to go to church on Christmas morning, Mom realized she’d forgotten her scarf and went back home. She met the family at Mass a few minutes later. When the Henry’s returned home, unwrapped presents were piled under the tree. It seems Santa stopped by while the family was at services. Huh. I would have loved to have captured that Santa escapade on video.
Seen, on the other hand, is not a traditional guy. No family traditions at all. I think he’s caught this nostalgia thing by sharing a life with me. Since moving to California, we have made our own traditions. We always take a long hike on Thanksgiving, it makes the feast taste even better. For the past 10 years, starting the first year we lived here, we have gone to the beach at Christmas. He grew up in Northern Wisconsin and I grew up in Colorado. Our Christmas beach visit is our way to celebrate the fair weather of our adopted state, though this year Seen skipped his usual swim. We could have snuggled in front of a DVD fire and missed the chilly beach this year, but it’s our family Christmas tradition.