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‘Tis the season for cocoa around the fire and snowball fights. Except that last part for us in most of California and other warm-weather-year-round states. While folks in other parts of the country are sharing memes about kids refusing to wear their snow jackets, we consider a cardigan and flip-flops cold weather gear. So, in the spirit of winter hospitality, like friends taking you ice skating in Rockefeller Center on a visit to New York City, allow me to share five tips for surviving a California winter.
Freak the eff out about the weather.
It’s very important in California around the holidays that you respond dramatically to any and all fluctuations of the temperature outside the range of 60 degrees and 75 degrees. Should you encounter any other parents at school drop-off while dressed in flannel p.j. bottoms inside your car with Starbucks in the cup holder because you’re prepared for the brisk 59-degree weather, it’s expected that you will remark about the chill. A simple “Brrr, it’s cold this morning,” should suffice. The California shit really hits the fan when water falls from the sky. There’s never snow, mind you, so we’re not talking about the white stuff. Should forecasters call for the potential of rain, everyone runs to local fire stations for sandbags. Outside barbecue covers are frantically put on. Drivers slip and slide all over the roads at the first hint of moisture, and everyone slams on their brakes. We’re sorry that you have to shovel a mile of snow just to pull out of your driveway, and we’re happy for you that you navigate those icy roads like a pro. We just can’t hang when it’s not sunny and 70.
Highways are life.
While we’re on the topic of roads, you need to know the names of California highways like the names of your own children to fit in with Californians. “The Californians” skit on Saturday Night Live is funny because it’s true. The 5. The 10. The 101. If you’re going to be visiting anyone in California, especially Southern California, during the holidays, prepare to list off directions using “the” followed by a freeway number. That’s right. Free. With the exception of the Bay Area, we like our highways free of charge. These precise directions are important because of the God-awful Southern California traffic. SoCal locals will tell you what specific freeways to take on specific days of the week and times in order to try to avoid the “T” word. There’s a good chance you will still encounter traffic. Because what’s a drive to grandma’s house without a carsick kid or two, and a some colorful language thrown around?
Be extra if you visit the snow.
We would LOVE to come visit you for the holidays in wherever you live with snow, but please understand that we have some serious work to do first. Our warmest jacket is that little sweater with the fur collar, and we’re going to have to visit a, like, backpacking store to get an actual cold-weather jacket. Our scarves are the cute little thin ones from the discount store, and all our gloves have rhinestones and no actual weather-proofing. So before we visit you, we’re going to have to go buy all the things. And we’re going to want to fully look the part, so expect us to come with earmuffs and snowshoes too. Basically, we want to look fab and not risk any part of our bodies touching the snow because we might melt like when the Wicked Witch of the West touches water or something.
The winter holidays are different here.
The California version of Santa has evolved to fit the climate. Surfer/beachy Santa is king here. While most people know Old Saint Nick to be dressed from head to toe in cozy fur, Californians are not at all surprised to see Santa hanging 10 on Christmas cards, plates, decorations, you name it. We also love us a beach-themed winter decor. Driftwood mini pine trees, anyone? In addition to surfing, Santa has been known to pick up an skateboard. Don’t be alarmed if you spot an actual Santa skating down a pier somewhere here. Skating and surfing Santas are still fully loaded with holiday magic in our California minds. And you’d better believe Californians love to ring in the new year at the beach! Champagne tastes even better with a (chilly) ocean view.
Weekends are a whole other ball game. Sometimes literally.
Days off school and work for others across the country might mean sitting around a roaring fire all day with family, iPads in hand, but we get super bummed here in California if we can’t try out that new bike/tennis racket/pool float from Christmas along with the iPads. That’s right. Pool float. Our kids are weirdos who will jump in the pool if it hits 72. Visit a neighborhood park on any weekend day after the holidays, and you can bet you will find kids testing out their first pair of roller skates. Or hoverboards, or whatever it is kids do these days. California weekends are for smacking that baseball way past your dad and making him run for it. When California kids say they want to with their toys, they mean PLAY.