The grove, celebrity mall- those specks in the picture are fake snow they pump in from the rooftops
We have successfully navigated our first LA christmas. It was also our first married christmas and our first not spent with our respective families. Christmas Eve involved cocktails with my LA friend and her partner. After they left I insisted we open our gifts of new Christmas PJs and drunkenly watch 'The Snowman'. It was awesome. After some terrible alcohol-challenged sleep, we were up early on Christmas day, both of us feeling rather grim. I had saved a bottle of Irn Bru specially for this scenario, so we cracked it open to help us open our presents. I received some AMAZING gifts. My sisters-in-law obviously know me rather well, highlighted by a selection of Cath Kidston accessories. My wonderful friends sent a crate of Irn Bru, something that will help us survive the Holiday season... I got awesome Fox earrings from both husband and best friend (I obviously went on about wanting some a lot!) The rest of the morning was spent on skype with husband's family. Niece and nephew had consumed vast quantities of chocolate and wanted to show off ALL their gifts. Nephew won quote of the day, however, advising us he 'wasn't very good' in his church nativity play...
Adding to the list of firsts, I made the whole of our Christmas dinner. From scratch. I baked a ham, made cranberry sauce, roasted a turkey, minced pork shoulder and created bread crumbs to make stuffing. I rolled pastry for apple pie then baked and iced cookies. It all took me two full days. After church and a long skyping session to my family (which honestly felt like I was in the living room with them. It was noisy and marvellous,) it was time to eat.
|Want to come to my house for turkey sandwiches? seriously. we have tons...|
Everything was, rather surprisingly, cooked properly and tasted amazing. We ended up in a food coma. Another skype session to my lovely friends at home was followed by 'The Snowdog' which I adored. I've spent the best part of the last month trying to figure out the difference between US and UK christmas, and I think I've decided it comes down to the collective consciousness of the Perfect Christmas. The 'Golden Age' of the US is the 1950s. Most of their Christmas music comes from then, or is at least in a Frank Sinatra style. Candy canes decorate everything.The idea of Family Christmas is the 1950s ideal, Mom, Dad, Grandma and the Kids. Extended family is for Thanksgiving.
The UK, by comparison, seems to be based firmly in the 1970s. The music is glam rock, the decorations glittery and tinsel-based. The colours are glaring and the family large and chaotic. I enjoyed Christmas here, but I missed the tackiness and forced togetherness of a traditional British Christmas. There was no Christmas TV on here, families go to the Movies instead. I want my kids to sing Slade and Wizard, to think foil ceiling decorations are magical the way I did when I was young. I want them to pour over the Radio Times circling the things they want to watch. There are so many wonderful things about bringing up your children in the US, but for us, Christmas wasn't one of them.
Post-Christmas came Boxing Day, or Wednesday, as it is known as here. In fairness, husband got Christmas Eve as a public holiday instead, but the TV is back to normal and it doesn't feel like the second day of Christmas, just business as usual. With that in mind, we decided to travel to the LA Weekly Best Coffee Shop in LA, having been to number 4 on Christmas Eve. It was delicious. It was also in Venice Beach, one of the quirkiest places in LA, which gives rise to things like this...
|This horror is above a CVS. I don't understand it either...|
It was sunny, we got to wear our Christmas Sunglasses (a tradition we'll probably only manage whilst in California...) and wander around for a while. Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a super cool wee street with awesome independent shops and coffee shops and restaurants. It is chock-full of heavily bearded men with babies in ergo's and women in stripy T-Shirts. There are hundreds of 'antique' shops, containing mostly driftwood and old beach furniture. It's the kind of place surfing hipster types hang out in. I didn't know they existed, but they do, and they live in Venice. The boardwalk has the reputation of being kind of skeezy, but we didn't make it that far today. The Santa Monica bus goes that way though, so when it starts to properly heat up I'll head down and report back.
|Husband at Venice Beach|
Tonight we went to see the Hobbit. This will be surprising to people who know me for two reasons: I famously thought Lord of The Rings was, well, shite, quite frankly. My brother and I suffered through the first one, slept through the second one, then ditched the third in favour of just going to sleep and dropping the pretence (we were working at summer camp, we gave up most things in favour of sleep.) Secondly, I am also notorious for my hatred of films, and in particular movies at the cinema. They are too long, you can't get nearly as invested with the characters as TV and if you have to watch them at the cinema then you are stuck in the dark with a room full of strangers who mind if you get up for a wander every so often. All this being said, husband really wanted to see it, and I really want to watch Call the Midwife on the iplayer, so it seemed like a fair trade. Unfortunately, the only option in Westwood was 3D, which was borderline unwatchable (even husband complained about the weird focus and odd movement) so I ended up taking the glasses off and watching it all a bit blurry. I didn't really enjoy it, but I was trying to be nice, since we don't have that many people to do fun things with. I shall try not to complain too much about it.
So there you have it, an epic about our Christmas adventures. It was strange to spend it just the two of us, but I liked making up some of our traditions. We incorporated bits of each others' families Christmas' as well as adding in a few brand new things. It was super relaxed, and I loved making up our own rules. Husband is off until next Wednesday, for which I am exceedingly thankful. Partly because he needs the break (it's been a busy few months curing cancer) and partly because it feels more like home when he's around. I am now the proud owner of a Social Security Number so shall be stepping up the job search. Probably just as well, all that Food Network is not good for you...