Today I’m excited to join a few friends for a little post about Hometown Christmas Traditions! The best part of the holidays, aren’t the gifts, but the rituals we do every year. Here in my small town of Los Gatos, in Northern California, we have some holiday traditions and my family also has a few.
Growing up in Northern Cal, our Christmas’s were pretty simple. The things that stand out in my mind the most are cutting down our Christmas trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains, baking sugar cookies with our mom from the Betty Crocker ‘Cooky’ book, and making lots of snowflakes to tape to the front windows of our house.
On Christmas Eve we would go to my grandparent’s mid-century home in Willow Glen where grandma would have a big flocked tree and vintage lights that bubbled. She always had Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra on her record player and we ate a light buffet from her cranberry glass dishes which I now have. All those songs bring me back to those years.. adults having pretty cocktails in coupe glasses, my mother dressed in some holiday frock!
My grandparents dressed up for a holiday party (you can see the flocked tree on the right), and mom and I at home, December 1966. My brother was born Jan 1 , 1967, so she was pregnant..
We have made a lot of traditions of our own now with our two boys. Though they are out of the house now, my sons still want to do our holiday things and it makes me so happy!
A picture of Griffin and Jackson at Christmas when they were small..
We are lucky to have a Christmas Parade in our town of Los Gatos that takes place the first Saturday of December, the day after the town tree lighting. The whole town turns out for our parade, which is quite large- the biggest holiday parade west of the Rockies. People line the sidewalks and stay warm in blankets, umbrellas or wear sandals- depending on the weather that year. Many nearby towns and their families participate.
We are also have a large county park that borders our town. Vasona hosts the Fantasy of Lights each year, and families queue up to drive through a huge light strewn park with holiday music. It begins the parade weekend with a walk through night with food trucks and continues until December 30th as a 1.5 mile drive through. My kids loved it and used to hang out of the car’s sun roof with Santa hats on.
Los Gatos also has holiday carriage rides through town and often at the tree lighting and on weekends, you can get a photo with Santa which my boys did many times!
Now that Grif is away at school, and Jackson lives up the peninsula, we try and squeeze a lot more into a shorter time frame..
Little traditions we love
We always make time one night to drive through San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood to see the lights, and get hot chocolate. Each street seems to have a theme and there are now people that sell hot chocolate and even a Santa you can visit on someone’s front yard. On the weekends it gets even more crazy with groups doing a holiday bike ride with bikes decorated with lights. If it’s a balmy night, you can walk through it all, which can be a blast too.
We also take a day and get up to San Francisco for lunch at The Rotunda atop Neiman’s to have their popovers and see their tree. Then we always go see the animals to adopt in Macy’s windows, and Gump’s historic beautiful department store with its fun toys and treasures. Last year we hit the city the same weekend as SantaCon and it was hilarious and made it even more festive with people everywhere dressed as Santas.
We will spend at least one day making Ethel’s sugar cookies. My mom always made Russian Tea Cakes, her favorite. I love seeing her notes in the book.
We always make little care packages for friends and neighbors and have wrapped them in different ways over the years.
We have a tradition where we do Christmas Eve with my dad. We do fondue and play games. That night my dad gives me a pan of his famous cinnamon rolls and I give him a lasagna, both to eat on Christmas day.
On Christmas day we all stay home in our jammies. That is how my parents started it, and we have kept it the same. My dad insists he likes the down time and we both have breakfast and dinner ready for the oven, so no cooking on the 25th!
Thanks for letting share a little about my hometown and out Christmas traditions! Please stop by my pals and see what fun they have to share..
I’d love to hear about your hometowns and also your own holiday traditions below!
Thanks for stopping by,
If you’d like to get an email when I post, please subscribe to the blog here for a post in your inbox a few times a month and every Saturday for Weekend Meanderings.
Some links will generate a small commission here, which helps make this blog possible. Thanks so much for your support!