Traditions of Christmas

I just picked our winner for the “fake or fresh” Christmas tree contest, but before I randomly selected a name (congrats Cyndi W.!), I read through each comment from our readers about their favorite holiday memories and traditions.

From special ornaments collected during years of family trips to presents under the tree from reindeer and elves, to baking Christmas cookies with mom, each story made me smile.

christmas train

I wonder what Mallory and Gage will remember the most about their childhood holidays? We squeeze as much magic into the season as possible. One of our all time favorite activities is driving out to Campo for the North Pole Limited¬†or “Santa train”. I see there are still a few seats left in case you want to take a Polar Express-style ride to the North Pole. ūüėČ

greg and kids grinch

We’ve also gone to Balboa Park’s Old Globe Theater every year since Mallory was 3 to enjoy a performance of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”¬†It never gets old! We always sip a cup of hot chocolate before the show and take a picture in front of the Whoville tree.


I danced in The Nutcracker from ages 6-10, and it was an amazing part of my Christmas season. Sadly neither of my children are into ballet like I was, but they have indulged me in attending performances by both¬†The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and California Ballet Company. Both are wonderful. California Ballet’s Nutcracker is the more elaborate of the two. San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s Nutcracker is the more affordable in case you were wondering!

santa house

Not everything that we do requires the purchase of a ticket. Visiting Poway’s Santa House is our favorite free event of the season. For the past 15 years the Huish family has opened their home to strangers like us and given us the true meaning of Christmas. Children love sitting in Santa’s sleigh, writing their Christmas wish letters, exploring the massive home and elaborate collection of ornaments and displays. And, of course, they love receiving a small gift from Santa. This year’s Santa House will be open every day, December 10th thru the 23rd ¬†from 6-8 ¬†p.m. except Sundays.

gage sharpens knives

This week we will go back in time to visit Bethlehem on the night that Jesus was born. “Bethlehem Story” is an amazing event hosted by Faith Chapel in the East County. Church members act out a variety of roles and families can stroll around, participating in hands on activities before visiting the living nativity. Read all about our experience from 2013 here and be sure to save time for this weekend’s free event.

gage pony rides in the village


Next weekend we’ll visit our town’s annual Christmas in the Village¬†with live holiday music, pony rides, fire pits, strolling carolers and another chance to meet Santa.¬†Lots of San Diego cities take the time to provide a free holiday event for residents and visitors including Escondido, Poway, Coronado and more. Check out the Mom’s Guide¬†calendar of local events¬†to see what your town has in store for you!

photo credit: San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

photo credit: San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

It’s totally free to sit along the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights route and take in the lavishly decorated parade of about 80 boats. The 44th annual event will be held on both December 13th and 20th. If you are a member of the USS Midway Museum, you can purchase a ticket for dinner with a front row view of the show. We’re planning to have dinner at the Fish Market and catch the parade from there. Outside viewing areas¬†on Shelter Island, Harbor Island and Coronado Ferry Landing are some free options. You can find information about the parade route here.

first star

I married into a wonderful family with a few special holiday traditions that have nothing to do with leaving the house. Every Christmas Eve we prepare a huge, 8-course Polish feast. But before any of us can eat, the youngest child has to spot the first star of the evening. It’s a tradition that I hope my kids, and their kids and their kids will keep alive.


No matter how you spend this holiday season, I hope that your family has a beautiful one!

happy holidays



3 thoughts on “Traditions of Christmas

  1. Victoria says:

    New Film Center in Carmel Valley Angelika is broadcasting Bolshoi Theatre Nutcracker balet on the big screen December 20 and 22.

  2. Jody says:

    Thank you, what a wonderful blog.

  3. Regula Schmid says:

    What about the free circus performance of Angel’s Gift?

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