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...until December hits, and they realize that "White Christmas" is said to have been written by a homesick Irving Berlin while visiting Beverly Hills. Out here, there are years when you're more likely to spend Christmas Day hanging by the pool than throwing snowballs (unless you have a home up in the mountains).
Those who grew up in colder climates don't find our warm weather very "Christmas-y."
I don't know how the weather will turn out this December 25, but our rainy season seems to have begun -- and while temperatures in the 50's and 60's are not exactly what my husband grew up with at Christmas time, it's been cold enough to put ME in a holiday mood.
Whether it is tradition, advertising or something innate, the winter change of temperature puts me in the mood for nesting: I get the rare urge to clean the house, bring out the holiday linens and cozy throws -- and I dig up the recipes for my favorite homey, stick-to-your ribs soups and stews.
The Saturday the rain started, I made a simple lentil soup: three cups of rinsed lentils, cooked in three quarts of water for a couple of hours. I sauteed some chopped onions and carrots and added them to the soup 20 minutes before serving. It came out great -- but was even better for lunch on Sunday...
...after which, I made my favorite easy beef stew, a dish that cooks slowly in the oven over the course of three or four hours. This not only makes the kitchen feel warm and cozy, but smells fantastic.
My husband -- who has committed to a vegan lifestyle -- did not share that stew with us. I ended up roasting some potatoes and vegetables for him to eat alongside our meal. This has caused me a little stress as we head towards Christmas. I had to ask him if we needed to come up with a new holiday dinner tradition?
Fortunately, he's decided to make an exception on holidays (including Thanksgiving, when he plans to enjoy the delicious bounty of my sister's cooking). So this Christmas, our little family of three will enjoy our usual menu of roast chicken and potatoes, real English bangers, gravy, vegetables and Christmas pudding (we head down to Santa Monica each December so we can pick up traditional British holiday foods at Ye Old Kings Head Shoppe).
Here's hoping we don't find ourselves in the middle of a December heat wave.
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