1. You began the new year with the Penguin Plunge in Del Mar
You didn’t want to do it. Who wants to jump in the freezing ocean at an ungodly hour on the first day of the new year? You know that water comes from Alaska, right? But for some reason, your dad, even through his hangover, was able to drag you out of bed every January 1st and drive you down to Powerhouse Park, where you and thousands of other people would sprint towards the water, only to stop and scream as soon as the first waves touched the tips of your toes. Then that one guy who always dressed as King Neptune would just waltz right in like it was nothing, and you’d get that rush of testosterone, enough to make yourself jump right in, and the rush of testosterone would be instantly nullified by your balls retreating so far inside you they bounced off your small intestine. You’d crawl out of the water gasping for air, trying to restore feeling to your fingers, while your dad tried desperately to hide the fact that he, too, was shivering.
2. A monkey gave you a piece of pineapple for Christmas
You went to the San Diego Zoo enough as it is, but you always looked forward to Jungle Bells, when the streets are lined with flashing lights and flashy peacocks. One time, when you were young, you found a gate unlocked that led to the back of the monkey exhibit, and you and your brother met a little capuchin that kept giving you slices of pineapple through the cage. Sure, the keeper nearly kicked you out of the zoo once he found you, but it’s still the best Christmas present you ever got.
3. You spent ages looking forward to this year’s craft beer holiday release
San Diego is a hotbed for the craft beer revolution in America. Every day’s like Christmas when you have beers like Arrogant Bastard and Green Flash on beck and call. So when Stone announces they’ll be bringing back their holiday brew, made with cinnamon, vanilla, and habanero peppers (because fuck it, why not?), you go straight to the BevMo, where there’s already a line forming.
4. You drank that holiday release in excess before the Poinsettia Bowl
Your alma mater isn’t even playing. But tailgating Qualcomm is a time-honored tradition, and the when the Chargers are letting you down (again), you might as well root on one of the college teams coming into town. And when your team is playing, then you might as well write the next day off entirely, because things are gonna get hazy.
5. You celebrated Hanukkah just because your entire class was doing it
Half your class celebrated them both Christmas and Hanukkah anyway, and most of them couldn’t even name where either holiday came from.
6. Christmas Eve breakfast burritos are more important than Christmas dinner
Sure, getting a turkey or whatever you decided to eat on Christmas was nice. Maybe you’d even brine it or something. But Thanksgiving was only a month ago. The real meal of the season is your annual monster burrito challenge. Mom would get out her tortilla press, because the store-boughts were just never big enough to fit everything in. You’d splurge on the best chorizo from that little mom n’ pop shop near Mount Soledad, plus just about every veggie you could fit in the basket at the farmers market. You made the eggs while your dad cooked the meat on the barbecue outside, because it was December 24th and still 70 degrees. Then you’d all sit down and see who could slather the most Cholula over the whole thing and down them within five minutes.
7. But you still made time for traditional foods of the season
San Diego is gorgeous, but man, whoever said the weather’s perfect never got further than the postcard. That Chaparral clime means anybody within 10 miles of the coast spends half the winter with a constant cloud cover. And sure, by January you’re sick of it, but when the holidays are around the corner, you cherish that glimpse of how the rest of the world must feel, and you celebrate it by whipping up all the cinnamon buns you can afford and chugging as much eggnog as your stomach can keep down. For those precious few weeks, the Christmas spirit is more than the vodka you’re mixing with the eggnog. Although, yes, it’s very much that too.
8. The Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights is a ritual
Because if you’re not willing to turn your multi-million dollar yacht into a giant floating rendition of Santa’s sleigh, what’s the point of buying one?
9. You know to avoid the Gaslamps like the fucking plague during SantaCon
There’s a solid three- or four-year period of your life where you really do consider dressing up like Santa and getting so messed up that one of the reindeers needs to drive the sleigh back home, but even then, the thought of jostling for position with a few thousand other people as you pervade the Gaslamp district makes it an instant no-fly zone. And when you’re not at that perfect college age (shuttling in from PB, probably), then you can only watch in horror as the news covers the chaos in a place that only yesterday played host to a delightfully family-friendly puppy parade. Shield your children’s eyes. No Billy, that’s not the real Santa projectile vomiting all over the other Santas. Yes, they’re all going to be on the naughty list next year.