Personal Christmas

GROWING UP on the left coast, you realize early that you have to define winter, let alone the holiday season, for yourself. I never liked the silly postcards of Santa in Speedos sipping a tall tropical drink festooned with an umbrella. It just seemed like some East Coaster’s commentary: “How on earth, could they have Christmas out there?”
We’ve long been defined by a comparison. Angelenos in fact sometimes don’t even realize are doing it ourselves and to ourselves.

It was a fact of life here to grow up with little turquoise houses festooned with ceramic lights wrapped around palm trees. Mylar tinsel dripped off fresh fur trees straight from the train yards, and underneath those trees you’d find stocking-stuffed fresh oranges, tangerines and/or clementines plucked from someone’s citrus tree.

This is why as I’ve grown older, I’ve looked for very personal articulations of Christmas — not fake snow, or snowmen in sunglasses, or Rudolph leading a jet ski — but people really looking at something that isn’t commercial, but found, cobbled together, passed down, collaged, hunt-and-gathered. These are some of the houses and collections of *stuff* that have stood out this season thus far. Personal, handcrafted Christmases:

One of my favorite houses . . .

A detail:

Another . . .

Waiting on his man . . . .

A little up a ways apiece . . .

I dig that little spare tree with the big bulbs and that the pumpkins from Halloween are still there, I do.


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