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10 Signs You Grew Up Spending the Holidays in California

by Paige Smith Dec 12, 2016

You wore your new UGG boot knock-offs with a pair of shorts.

Or a short-sleeved T-shirt. Or a dress. Or a jean skirt circa 2002. Basically, you were committed to wearing your UGG knock-offs (in pink, purple, or green, no less) no matter the weather. You wore them on bright, sunny days, warm afternoons spent walking for hours, and even rainy days — where you stepped in a puddle and ruined them forever.

You bought homemade tamales.

Tis the season for — tamales. Who needs a fancy Christmas pork roast when you just had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner a month ago? It’s tradition in many Latino communities to make tamales on special occasions like Christmas, and thanks to your generous Mexican neighbors who set up tamalerias in their homes and neighborhoods to share the love, you always had easy access to the good stuff. Chicken, pork, chili, jalapeño, cheese — even sweet tamales with cinnamon and walnuts.

You celebrated New Year’s at 9pm with the East Coasters.

Because your parents didn’t let you stay up until midnight to celebrate properly. Until high school, that is. But even then, you still turned the TV on around 9pm to watch the ball drop in NYC and pop some festive poppers.

You prayed for some type of precipitation.

Snow was your first choice, obviously. But unless you grew up in the mountains, you knew even at a tender young age that rain was the most you could hope for. You even wished desperately for a bleak, cloudy day so you could actually have an excuse to wear your new sweater and stay indoors watching holiday movies.

You got a scarf or pair of gloves in your stocking, even if you had nowhere to wear them.

A fuzzy white scarf? A pair of rainbow-striped gloves with holes for your thumbs? Hell yes. You were all about these typical winter accessories, even if the only time you got to wear them was when your parents cranked up the AC.

Chances are good you played in sand, not snow.

Unless you’re one of the lucky Californians to grow up near our state’s gorgeous mountains, chances are good you weren’t frolicking in a winter wonderland around the holidays. If you lived close to the beach, you probably spent chilly December days digging your toes in the dark sand and trying (in vain) to get a mild tan by stripping bare in the weak winter sun.

You took a trip to see the snow.

If you lived in SoCal, you probably took a quick day trip to Arrowhead or Big Bear to see the snow (if there was any at all). If the weather gods were good to you, you had enough snow to at least construct a tiny, slushy, slightly gray snowman and slide down a small incline a few times on your plastic sled.

If you were in central or Northern California, you probably trekked up to Tahoe or Mammoth Mountain for a proper ski or snowboarding sesh — or at least a proper snowball fight that ended with hot chocolate.

You saw palm trees strung up with lights.

Even if you grew up in the woods or mountains, your town’s shopping center probably had a row or two of palm trees decked out in lights. If you grew up in Southern California, though, palm trees probably accounted for the majority of trees you saw decorated. Brightly colored lights were wound around the trunks and shiny ornaments hung from the fronds.

You spent at least part of Christmas day outside.

It was probably too beautiful not to. Forget holing up on the couch with your footie pajamas and mug of cocoa — you were playing with new toys in the backyard, taking a crisp beach walk, or just sitting outside to chat, play games, and soak up the rays of sun.

You celebrated Hanukkah with your family or friends.

Even if you weren’t Jewish, you likely had a few family friends, neighbors, or classmates who were. And you always got excited to spin the dreidel and light the menorah when your friends graciously invited you to join the celebrations.

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