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A First SoCal Christmas in Eight Years

December 24th, 2015 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Journalism, The National


An American Christmas. We had not done one of those since 2007.

A semi-surprising stat, in retrospect, given that I had not been outside Southern California on December 25 for a very long time … and maybe never, through 2007.

Then came Hong Kong in 2008 and Abu Dhabi from 2009 through 2014. And I’m guessing more and more Americans are experiencing this — Christmases far from home, as more of us take jobs overseas.

So, any changes to be noted in the Stateside Christmas, after an eight-year gap?

Actually, mostly no.

More malls from which to choose.

The blizzard of advertisements in the media … could hardly be any worse than it was, back then.

The all-night image, on a local TV station, of a roaring blaze in a fireplace: Still there. I assume the Pope doing Midnight Mass is still going strong, too.

Football on TV; no change there. And the NBA now has five nationally televised games on Christmas Day. I remember when it was one.

Christmas tamales. Still going strong.

Like many people, we now do much more shopping online than in person, a change from December 2007.

For the first time since I was a college kid, I didn’t have a job to be at on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. (“So this is how the other 90 percent lives.”)

The level of participation in home Christmas lights in east Long Beach seems to be about the same as when we last witnessed it. We took a walk through a neighborhood near Belmont Shore, and about half of all homes had some sort of lights up, and maybe 25 percent took seriously the “decorating” concept.

Long Beach is still putting up pine-shaped floating towers that display lights and always make Alamitos Bay (photo, above) look welcoming.

And a candlelight church service, late in the evening, a short walk from the family home.

Church late on December 24 remains one of the best parts of the holiday — just as it did in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi. But in this case, we get to go with family.


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