I love snow. I don’t necessarily love being cold, but I love snow and I’ve prayed and prayed for a white Christmas when I go home to be with my family.
Because there’s definitely no real snow here in Hollywood. I’ve complained to some of my coworkers at PATH about how sad it is that the kids here have never had the chance to build a snowman, or a snow fort, or even understand the context in classic Christmas songs such as, “White Christmas.” They laugh at me and say that if you’ve never experienced it, you don’t really know what you’re missing. We Dwellers had the opportunity to go ice skating at Pershing Square downtown last weekend. It’s a family friendly, small outdoor rink with real ice, mind you, crammed to capacity with flailing children and adults who’ve probably never seen real ice, much less tried to move on it. But it was a blast! There was live music, plenty of lights, and games and activities for younger children. Other than being warm enough for a t-shirt, it almost felt a little bit like Christmas.
I did do a little Christmas shopping on Hollywood Boulevard just because, but any shopping on Hollywood Blvd always ends up feeling a little like, “No, I’m not interested in a tour; No thank you sir I’m really not interested in taking a tour; No, actually I live here and I don’t need a tour; No, I don’t have time today for a tour; You know the last 15 people have asked me as well and I just don’t think I want a tour today.” As well as mumbling to myself, “Can I please have space to walk around the man in the Iron Man costume? And Elsa, and Mickey Mouse, and Darth Vader. Please? I don’t want a picture with him. I legitimately JUST want to go around him.”
I went to the choral Christmas concert at First Presbyterian last weekend as well, and felt revived by some traditional favorites and the holiday spirit. I tried to hold on to that feeling for as long as I could, but as soon as I saw the next palm tree, it was gone. Let’s face it; palm trees are not Christmas trees to me. I’ve tried to listen to Christmas music on my walk to work, but it’s weird. I end up telling myself that I’ll get my fill of the real Christmas feeling when I go home.
However, despite the warmth, the sun, the lack of decorations in our house due to laziness, and the palm trees severely killing my vibe, I still have a jolly holiday spirit. On Saturday, we had our annual Christmas store in La Casa de la Comunidad (The Community House). The toys in our store are all new, donated toys from people at First Presbyterian and are resold at our store for a fraction of the retail cost. All the money that’s raised goes back into DOOR’s program that works with our local youth, so in the end, the community is really helping to support itself. It’s a beautiful thing to watch happen. In the past it’s been a store, but this year it was more like Black Friday. We opened at 3 but by 1:30 we had a line outside the door. I didn’t know many of the people from the community who showed up, so I was delighted when a bunch of the kids who do come over weekly came by with their parents. It was really precious to see our kids choosing some gifts for themselves and for their siblings, coming over to me to show me, and stuffing their faces with cookies and donuts while their parents stood in line to pay. I am continuously reminded of how much I love this neighborhood, these kids, and their families.
But in the end, I’m excited to be home for Christmas. I’m excited to see my friends and family, and to celebrate the traditions that I’ve had my entire life. One of my coworkers has been asking me almost daily the past week if I’m excited to go home, to the point where I’m wondering if he just wants me to leave (I’m on to you, Moises!) But in reality, it’s been a blessing to hear that encouragement: “I am, and we are, so glad you’ll be with your family,” “Of course you need to be home for Christmas” and “Hopefully there’ll be snow!”
My flight has been booked, my shopping is done, and my suitcase is waiting to be packed. In less than a week I get to join the throngs of people flying home for the holidays. And if asked where I’m going I can say, “Oh, I live in Hollywood. I’m just flying home to see my family in Ohio.”
Merry Christmas everyone!