California Christmas

California Christmas

I grew up as a 5th generation Californian, and have some traditions that don’t seem to be the “norm” elsewhere.

For example: in our Christmas stocking would *always* be a walnut, a tangerine, and a few small trinkets. For a long time, I just thought this (the walnut & tangerine) came down from my mother’s side of the family, but I eventually realized that most people from the area where I grew up had the same tradition (Central California Coast).

Also, I only knew about two or three people who went to Christmas Mass, or Christmas services of any sort. We surely did not – maybe it’s part of the old California Pioneer thing? Additionally, I never saw a plastic manger scene (let alone a plastic Santa) until I grew up and moved away from the area.

In the morning, the kids got up and were allowed to empty their stocking while the parents were still abed. I guess this was the instant gratification part. After that, we had to wait *quietly* for parents to get up; then we could open the presents.

Christmas dinner was always at Grammy’s house and always started with shrimp cocktail, and Grammy also always made individual lime jello salad molds. These were actually like a Waldorf salad, with chopped apples, walnuts, and whatever else is in Waldorf salad. After that there was always turkey and all the fixings. For dessert, we always had pumpkin, pecan, and mincemeat pies. No apple pie or anything like that. To this day, I *have* to have mincemeat pie, even though DH thinks it’s icky. Grammy also made a disgusting version of fruitcake – black, dry, and filled with citrus stuff.

My new traditions:

I make my own fruitcake now and everyone actually eats it – it has exotic dried fruits, macadamia nuts, almonds, and lots of cognac, adapted from Julia Childs’ recipe for Famous Sticky Fruitcake.

I also make stollen for Christmas morning – before my husband and I open our presents, I make coffee, champagne or Brandy Alexanders and warm up the stollen. We have recently begun to have a standing rib roast for dinner, instead of turkey. But there are *always* pumpkin, pecan and mincemeat pies!


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