There are a few distinct signs that the Holiday season is approaching in California: the thermostat registers slightly below the 80s; people begin to wear jeans and flip-flops instead of shorts and flip-flops; and our local markets are stocking certified organic, free-range, vegetarian fed, heritage breed turkeys (the folks at Portlandia hit it on the head). Though this might be laughable to those of you who live in the frozen tundra of the Midwest and East (seriously, how do you survive?), we Californians still follow most of the Christmas and Thanksgiving traditions.
This in mind, we thought that it would be fun to have each of the Marty Magic Crew share some of their favorite Holiday-related memories:
Alex: My dad is a champion light stringer and spends several days each winter adorning the house with as many lights as possible – PG&E bill be d*****! He decorates according to a strict three-part code:
- No pre-constructed light sculptures (too tacky)
- White lights for mansions only (psychedelic, please)
- The more dangerous the installation the better (to impress his neighbors and to relive his rock climbing days)
When he finishes, he invites us out to admire his handiwork, to which my Mom inevitably replies, perfectly on cue, “Bob, you could see the house from outer space!”
Marty: Choosing our Christmas tree is an annual family tradition that marks the beginning of our holiday season. In my mind I picture our family bonding during this outing, and consequently forget the disharmony that this adventure inevitably brings. As in years past, we pile into the car anticipating hot cider, brisk weather, expansive views, and drive towards the Crest Ranch Christmas tree farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. What happens next is something akin to the Search for El Dorado: lured in by rumors of a perfect tree that will satisfy everyone, we become hopelessly lost in an endless forest and are periodically set upon marauding bands of hide-and-seek playing children.
Each tree we encounter is judged to have some fatal flaw, so we continue the search, hoping that the perfect tree will materialize above the next knoll. John hones in on a 12 foot Nobel Fir tree that is likely to pierce our living room ceiling and break our budget, and Alisha has bonded with a fat and bushy Douglas Fir. Art begins to sour, and I start thinking would happily choose a tumbleweed* for a this year’s tree if it would guarantee family harmony.
*When I was 5 years old and living in the California desert, my remarkable mother captured a “tumbling, tumble-weed” and decorated it with Christmas lights and glass ornaments. For me, it was the most beautiful of all Christmas trees.
Alison: In England we always have crackers at our Holiday meals – those paper tubes full of knick-knacks that “pop” when you pull on the ends. In some of them you get a little pair of bright red plastic lips…so one year my Grandma pops the wrapper, puts in the lips and decides she’s going to give her best Mick Jagger impression, complete with swaying hips. I’ll leave you with that image. She’s reprised it every year since.
Alisha: When I was younger, I would visit my Dad’s family in Port Angeles, Washington, at Christmas. They’re big hunters up there and they’d always serve wild game for Christmas dinner. One year, when I was about 7 years old, they made the mistake of showing me “dinner” before it was fully prepared. My grandfather and uncle pulled the truck up to the house and my Dad slowly swung open the back of the flatbed. A deer lay in the back of the truck and with a quivering lip, I asked: “Bam…bi?” Needless to say, I had Mac & Cheese for Christmas dinner.
Laura: I used to spend the Christmas holidays at my Grandmother’s house in Oklahoma. One year – I must have been 13 – when my cousins and I discovered that the hot apple cider was particularly tasty (probably because it was spiked with spiced rum.) I soon became tipsy and, in the middle of a cider-happy dance move, did a face-plant on the bed, sliding off onto the floor. With perfect timing, Grandma walked in: “Do I smell alcohol in here?” “No, Grandma,” I replied, facedown on the floor. “Well then, it must be the mashed potatoes,” she retorted cheerily and exited the room. This line has since become an enduring joke within our family – must be the mashed potatoes.
We’d love to hear a funny holiday story of your own if you’ve got one! Be sure to check out Marty’s collection of Holiday themed jewelry as well – we have snowmen, sugar plum fairies, and turkeys waiting to come home with you.