Christmas in Los Angeles is often warm and sunny with the temperature in the 80s. The kids often talk about the lucky kids living where Christmases are white, with snowmen, snow forts and snowballs. We would hope for rain, wind and colder days to make it seem more “Christmasy.” No one liked a very warm Christmas Day.
The Christmas season when I was 5 was much cooler than usual with some rainy days. There is an area of nice department stores, shops, restaurants and cafes on Wilshire Boulevard about three miles east of Beverly Hills called, “The Miracle Mile.”
I was there Christmas shopping with my mother and grandparents. My father was at work. My little brother was not with us. I don’t know where he was or why, but it was OK with me.
We went into various stores and shops. Walking outside from one place to another was fun and exciting. A blustery wind was blowing, it was gray, much cooler than usual, and stimulating, fun, Christmasy weather.
Christmas was everywhere. The stores and street were joyously trumpeting Christmas with all its fun, color and celebration. My childhood anticipation with all its wonderment, impatience and urgency was in step with the progression toward the magical day.
Every time we came outside again the dance of Christmas colors, the decorated metal Christmas trees on every lamppost and the prevailing Christmas music was new and exciting.
We stepped in from the bluster and gray clouds to a nice little cafe which I always liked. They had both hot fudge and hot butterscotch sundaes there. It was warm, and inviting with sparkly decorations.
We took a cozy booth, and I settled in with my mother and grandparents. I have them all to myself. I had all the attention, affectionate focus and talk. My little brother was cute, engaging, and always captured most of the attention. He wasn’t there, and this was my day.
Because it was my day – a special day – I got to have a hamburger and French fries. The lady who waited on us was very nice and indulging with me. When I asked for hot chocolate (the weather made it a very hot chocolate day) she asked me if I would like a marshmallow in my hot chocolate. My mom said, “OK” and the nice lady gave me two. I didn’t know that such a marvelous thing existed, a great new treat.
Even though it wasn’t on the menu and I couldn’t finish my hamburger and French fries, the nice lady offered to make me a small hot fudge or hot butterscotch sundae. When my mother said, “OK,” I chose the butterscotch. I had never had one before. It tasted great.
Afterward my mother and grandparents talked about how nice she was, and that she liked me. I liked her, too. She didn’t charge for the little hot butterscotch sundae.
After lunch we were back out into the bluster and Christmas environment and then to Santa Claus. One more shop and I was out of steam. When we got to my grandpa’s blue, 1938 Buick I crawled into the back seat and remember nothing until my mother awakened me at my grandparents’ house.
That evening the Christmas decorations and music, the gray, windy and chilly day, the cozy booth with everyone to myself, the nice lady in the cafe, the hot chocolate with marshmallows, the hot butterscotch sundae, Santa Claus, and anticipation of Christmas were spinning through my head as I took them to sleep with me.
Nothing very special happened that day, except I had a very special day. A day that I have remembered all 80 Christmases since.
Don Farris is a licensed clinical social worker in Fresno providing counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, couples and families. He can be reached at email@example.com.