Magazine article Sunset

Christmas in the O.C

Magazine article Sunset

Christmas in the O.C

Article excerpt

Breaking with tradition

JOEL STEIN, RICK BASS, NOVELLA CARPENTER, AND JOYCE MAYNARD RECOUNT HOW, WHEN THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENED AROUND THE HOLIDAYS, THEY MADE THE MOST OF IT

One of the great things about being a Jew is that while we get plenty of family holidays--Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Passover, breaking the fast at Yom Kippur, plus a couple we made up just to get out of work--we have no responsibilities for Christmas. But the winter after I graduated college, it didn't feel like an opportunity. It felt like an imposed weeklong vacation in a cold Manhattan apartment with no girlfriend and recently divorced parents nearby. Christmas might be sadder for Christians with nowhere to go, but it doesn't feel as alienating. So I sort of invited myself to Los Angeles, where some of my friends who didn't have a week off were sticking around.

Driving from the airport I saw Christmas lights draped around palm trees, Christmas-light reindeers leaping off sun-drenched grass. I was disgusted by the notion of joy without hardship. This was a culture that didn't have the courtesy to spray their Christmas signs with a bit of fake snow. If it's possible to be offended by the oversecularized celebration of the birth of a God you don't believe in, I was.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A few days before Christmas, my friend Patty drove me and a group of friends somewhere that, until I asked, I assumed was in Los Angeles. All I know is that I got in a car and I popped out to see the most un-Christmassy thing I have still ever seen: the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. …

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