Magazine article Sunset

It's That Time of Year

Magazine article Sunset

It's That Time of Year

Article excerpt

"My aunts and I thoroughly enjoy each other's company, and they've taught me to enjoy every second of every day. Tamales are a way for us to get together. "

MARCELA VALLADOLID

In which a few of our favorite Westerners tell us how they celebrate- or survive- the holidays

Interviews by LEILANI LABONG

Mom, tired of the commercialism of Christmas, ditched the angel and put Vladimir the Christmas Vulture on top of our tree. When company was shocked, she blamed it on the children.

NEVADA BARR, author of the Anna Pigeon national-parks mystery series

In New Mexico, where I grew up, the Christmas turkey and mashed potatoes are smothered in red chile rather than brown gravy, while fresh chopped green chile stands in for mint jelly witn every New Year's roast leg of lamb.

CARMELLA PADILLA, SantaFe;journalist

My family spends the holidays in Hawaii or Bali, building our own tree from plumeria and marigolds.

JONATHAN RACHMAN, San Francisco; interior designer

On November 23, the anniversary of when my mother went to the great Chinese kitchen in the sky, we make potstickers to prove we will never be able to make them as well as she did.

AMY TAN, Sausalito, CA; author of The Valley of Amazement

One Christmas, I decided that I wanted to make butternut squash ravioli with crisp prosciutto and toasted hazelnuts. The ravioli were gorgeous. Everyone absolutely loved them. They asked for seconds. I was so happy and proud when I served seconds. When it came time for the turkey, no one had room left. No joke. I put the whole turkey in the refrigerator and ate it for the next week.

JOANNE WEIR, San Francisco; host of the PBS series Joanne Weir's Cooking Confidence

Being from a very large family of nine children means fierce sibling rivalries. We're all pretty competitive. So our annual holiday ping-pong competition is possibly more important than putting on the family feast. We have one table and do a round robin that starts in the morning and lasts all day. Last year, I won the championship for the first time in six years.

JIM DENEVAN. Santa Cruz; founder of Outstanding in the Field

We have a house in Juniper Mountain up in Tahoe, on the ridge between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. On Christmas, it's been a tradition, after opening presents and plowing through breakfast, to go mountain biking in the snow and then hit Squaw for an afternoon of skiing.

JULIA VIOLICH, Kentfield, CA; cofounder of Marin Museum of Bicycling

Every year, I have a Diwali-themed Thanksgiving celebration with my friend Sureena. We light the house full of candles to invite Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune,- then we play Bollywood movies and smoke the hookah and rage all night. …

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