Godfrey Pond in Weston, CT
Godfrey Pond in Weston, CT

I find it pretty difficult to get into the holiday spirit here in Los Angeles.  I’m assuming this is because I was born and raised on the east coast, where the scenery at this time of year is not unlike what one would find on a postcard.  To be fair though I’ve never actually asked a native what defines Thanksgiving or Christmas to them.

Is Thanksgiving just a very large and specific meal, without the connotation of fall colors and a chill in the air?

What is it like to never have had a “White Christmas” or made a snowman?

These things are all so inextricably attached to my holiday experience I cannot imagine anything else.

Even as a child I clung to Christmas traditions

Not that the lack of deciduous trees has ever stopped me from celebrating.  I do find though, that most of my activities in the spirit of the season are efforts to make me forget I am in sunny California.  I buy sweaters.  Make hot mulled wine.  Purchase autumnal-colored flowers for my apartment.  I even have candle holders of glass maple leaves.  This fall has been particularly warm here, and never have I missed the chill in the air more.

This is also the first time in a long time that I won’t be with my family on Thanksgiving Day, which hasn’t occurred in at least five years.  I’m not going to lie, I’m going to miss my mom’s cooking, and my Dad quizzing us all on the history of Thanksgiving out of his Encyclopedia from the 1970’s.  Fortunately my Dad will be in Los Angeles a week later so I’ll get to share an Irish coffee with him then.

Instead I’ll be spending Thanksgiving this year with members of my new Los Angeles family, most notably my boyfriend.  We’ve only spent one holiday together in our almost three and a half year relationship, and that was Thanksgiving 2010, so I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to create some new traditions, especially a weekend trip north to Solvang and Santa Ynez (perhaps if I put it in writing, it will actually become a tradition) for some good wine and good beer.

That said, this year I am grateful to have a growing family here, across the country from where I grew up.  My boyfriend and our two adorable cats.  The married couple who has invited us to spend Thanksgiving day at their home.  The circle of friends that has formed in our blossoming neighborhood of Echo Park.  The women in the various brunch groups I am a part of, who also all happen to be in my industry as well (how amazing is that?).  All of these things took some time to grow, and at the end of the day, that is something I appreciate as well.

And truth be told I never really liked putting on four layers before leaving the house.

For those still lacking in the autumnal spirit however, here are a few tracks to get you in the leaf-peeping mood:

Jim Hanft “Family Tree”

Kan Wakan “Forever Found”

Cajsa Siik “Was I Supposed To”

Fossil Collective “Guaratuba”

Jake Bugg “Note To Self”

Milo Greene “Autumn Tree”

Lord Huron “Brother”

Hurray for the Riff Raff “Slow Walk”

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros “Home”