To be honest, I didn’t really expect much difference from our Floridian Christmases. I mean… California, Florida… potayto, potawto, right? Two places that will be too sunny to really feel Christmassy. Where we’ll get on a plane to England overdressed and arrived freezing.
I was wrong.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Oh, so very wrong.
Back in Florida, we had central heat and air. The heat got used for, maybe, a week of the year, and only to get us up and out of bed. Here, especially with me home all day, just when I think it’s warming up, another cold snap comes and on goes our little per-room heating unit. Which doesn’t even heat the living room all that well because of the vaulted ceiling and the loft (where I’ve been spending most of my days anyway). While looking forward to going to the UK for Christmas used to be fun (it’ll be cold! I won’t be able to wear shorts on Christmas! It’ll actually feel like Christmas!), this year, it’ll just be more of the same: cold and wet. But with an adorable niece and great in-laws, so there’s still something to look forward to.
There have been some delightful differences, though. Christmas felt like it started even before Thanksgiving, when the large Indian community in the area started putting up their lights for Diwali. All the colorful lights just get me in a festive mood. Having my family here and hosting Thanksgiving was another great change – it was my first time hosting and everything went wonderfully!
While meeting up with a friend in the Santana Row shopping area, we happened to choose the day of their Christmas Tree lighting, so we got to partake in some mulled wine and see some snow from the second story windows and hear some local school perform at their ceremony. And just this week, also on Santana Row, we experienced the thrill of seeing my favorite movie of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life, on the big screen. It was great to see all the kids there with their parents, seeing it for the first time ever, and loving it.
More light festivities were had when Chris and I went to the Festival of Lights at Vasona County Park in Los Gatos. While the 45 minute wait to get in was a little daunting, the experience was definitely worth it. Click the picture below to go to my Flickr album with more photos.
Back in Florida, for the past 5 years (except the year they sold out early), we always got our tree at Unicorn Hill Tree Farm. We were tipped off to them by our wedding photographers and loved how comfortable and homey the place was. Every year, we’d take our saw (Chris loves any excuse to get a new tool) down there and pick out the perfect little tree. Out here, we’d seen a few Christmas Tree Farms on the way to Half Moon Bay, so after Thanksgiving, we headed up to the mountains to check them out. Aside from being so much more expensive (isn’t everything out here?), we were kind of disheartened by how commercialized the places we found were. What we loved about Unicorn Hill was that it was family owned… they lived right on the property, and everyone in the family helped out in the holiday season. They didn’t need a Santa’s Workshop or free apple cider to get people in. We eventually found our tree, though, and Tomas (that’s what I’ve named him) is a pretty darn great tree indeed.
While we didn’t get to do all the Bay Area Christmas traditions (We passed on SantaCon and didn’t make it to Dickens Fair), we know there will be more Christmases here… and ones that we actually get to spend here. For now, our presents are wrapped and we just have to pack them up and be on our way to England in a few days, where Christmas morning mimosas and mulled wine await!