In San Diego International Airport, rays of sunshine blast headlong into the baggage claim area, warming our luggage on the turnstile. As we descend the elevator into main lobby, we New Yorkers can’t help but feel like vampires—the light, the light!
Near the glass exit doors, the mirrored baubles on the giant, artificial spruce cast shimmery snowflake patterns onto the tiles in delightful contrast to the 78 degree temperature. There is a dynamism born of contrasts in San Diego at Christmastime—the palm trees and the flat blue skies, the piped in Christmas carols that sing of sleigh rides and snowmen. Even the Salvation Army Santa is clad in Bermuda shorts and Ray Ban sunglasses, shrilling that chime of his. There is no scent of roasted chestnuts in the air, only a distinctive mixture of jet fuel and ocean air.
Some might feel that it’s the most un-Christmasy place on Earth, but they are the ones who limit their imaginations to the images of Currier & Ives. For me, this is just the way it has always been, and, anyway, I like a little jalapeno with my roast turkey and cranberry sauce, thank you.
As we pack our bags into the trunk of Mom’s car and merge onto the on ramp that will take us to our glorious week of merrymaking and relaxation, we catch our first silvery glimpse of the Pacific—this, even as our friends back east are hunkering in for the bracing holiday forecast. And, no, none of us in the car is complaining.