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Christmas in Los Angeles

December 24, 1988

A mythical, epic, magical place is Los Angeles. My first day here was Thanksgiving. There were those who welcomed my husband and me. We were lucky. There was turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, and mincemeat pie, just like home.

We all grow to expect a certain chain of events to happen between Thanksgiving and the new year. At the very least a change of seasons. I am waiting. The biggest seasonal change I've noticed is the Santa Ana winds, and then I find out they only last for a short time. There's fog, but, being by the ocean, that doesn't really count. It isn't the same as snow.

My favorite Christmas story is about snow. My grandmother tells it. It was the night before Christmas in Denver, Colo. in 1913. Her father was carrying her home from a celebration. The gas street lantern was casting light all over the fresh snow. Her father said to her: "Babette, do you see how the snow sparkles with hundreds of different colors? See the lavender, rose and sky blue? Do you know what that means, sweetheart?"

"No daddy. Tell me!"

"It means that Santa is coming to Denver tonight."

Now what happens in Los Angeles to explain the arrival of Santa? "Sweetheart, the Santa Ana winds will bring Santa soon?" No, it isn't the same as snow.

There is a very real reason for coming to Los Angeles, even without the snow, even at Christmas time. This is where the myths about Christmas begin. I bet Frosty the Snowman grew up here and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, too. There is so much imagination here. The gadgets and toys that are invented here bring magic to places where people are just eking out a living. The whole point of the yuletide season, excepting the obvious, is to bring a little springtime into the chill of the winter. What better place to do that from than someplace eternally in spring?

If you've lived here all your life you might not see the wonder, the mythical quality of this strange city. You might be bogged down by the driving, breathing poor air, standing in long lines, and working for corporations whose prime motive is greed. And, no Christmas isn't the same here. It's manufactured here, and out there they really believe it. But, having the chance to be a part of the myth-making, well, that's glorious.

This year my husband and I are going to create some new traditions. I'm sure even if there is no sparkling snow that Santa will arrive by Dec. 25. It's a good thing he's got those eight tiny reindeer; though, or traffic would be horrible.



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