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How Californians Are Celebrating the Holidays

Skiers and snowboarders during Santa Sundays at Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood last weekend.Credit…Kyle Grillot for The New York Times

The year is finally coming to a close. The weather is cooler, the days short and the demands of school and work have begun easing for many of us.

Today I’m sharing a snapshot of the season: photos of Californians savoring winter, along with stories of how we’re celebrating the holidays. For the past few weeks, you’ve been writing to me about Christmas In-N-Out burgers, tree-cutting traditions and, of course, holiday walks on the beach.

Below, edited for length and clarity, is some of what you shared.

But before we go, I wanted to let you know that we’ll be off next week and will return to your inbox on Jan. 3. Thanks for starting your mornings with us in 2022, and see you next year. Enjoy your holidays!

“A tradition up in South Lake Tahoe, where I’ve lived for 44 years, is getting a permit from the Forest Service and going out in the woods on cross-country skis or snowshoes and cutting our own Christmas tree! Now that my kids have moved back to their hometown, they do the same. We then get together on Christmas and share a great meal.” — Russell Woods, South Lake Tahoe

“Our new holiday tradition over the past three years has been going to Huntington Dog Beach on Christmas morning. After presents, coffee and a big breakfast, we take our rescue dog to her favorite place and let her run around the basically empty beach. There’s always a few surfers in the water and other fellow dog lovers, but the tranquillity of the beach and happiness of seeing our girl run around in the waves make for a nice pause on a often hectic day.” — Laurie Andress, Huntington Beach

“I grew up in New England and moved to L.A.’s South Bay back in the 1980s. When I married my husband, who grew up in Covina, I married into his family’s Christmas Eve tradition. His was a family of immigrants, with each member of his family having been born in a different country (none in America). One would expect a family ritual steeped in traditions from foreign lands, but that was not the case. On Christmas Eve, we gathered at my mother-in-law’s house. We attended Christmas Eve Mass, and then we all jumped in the car and drove to the original In-N-Out restaurant in Buena Park. We ordered our food to go and took it back to my mother-in-law’s house, and we all sat in her home chowing down on Double-Doubles. My husband is nearing 70 and believes he’s been frequenting In-N-Out on Christmas Eve for well over 60 years. We’ll be going again this year!” — MaryLou Cahir, Hermosa Beach

“This year, my family’s Thanksgiving plans were abruptly put on hold due to Covid. I was the only one not sick, and spent the day on the coast in Mendocino, an hour or so from where I live in Ukiah. The temperature was 70, blue skies and beautiful. For Christmas we will take my grandma, who at 98 is still kicking at home in St. Helena, for a picnic in Bodega Bay. I hope the weather will be at least a little bit as temperate as it was last month.” — Heather Morgan, Ukiah

“I grew up in Northern California during the 1950s with two older brothers and, later, a younger sister. For many years, our mom would make us get dressed up and we would go into San Francisco and see the giant, real Christmas tree at the City of Paris department store in Union Square. We had little money, but to my memory, we could afford a simple but decent lunch nearby. The tree was fabulous. The City of Paris was modeled after the great department stores in Paris with a central atrium, and that’s where the tree was. Three floors of it, glittering and magical.” — Judy Schultze, Corralitos

The “Field of Light” display at Sensorio in Paso Robles. The installation, by Bruce Munroe, opened this month and will remain through the spring.Credit…Jim McAuley for The New York Times
A Santa diver swimming with the sharks, sea bass, rays and other fish, and delivering treats for the animals at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.Credit…Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
People walking by illuminated Christmas decorations along the Christmas Tree Lane in San Francisco.Credit…Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
Evergreen Cafe in Wrightwood.Credit…Kyle Grillot for The New York Times
Holiday lights at the Mission Inn Festival in Riverside.Credit…David McNew/Getty Images
A person fishing at the end of a pier at Huntington Beach this month.Credit…Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Credit…Patrick Pleul/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The rest of the news

  • Tesla crashes: The U.S. government’s highway safety agency said it would send teams to investigate crashes in California and Ohio involving Tesla vehicles that might have been operating on automated driving systems, The Associated Press reports.

  • Education access: California public universities are becoming more equitable and inclusive with programs to help formerly incarcerated students earn college degrees, EdSource reports.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

  • Homelessness: Hours after being sworn in, Rex Richardson, the mayor of Long Beach, asked city officials to draft an emergency declaration on homelessness, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Murder trial: An interior designer in San Diego was convicted of first-degree murder after prosecutors said she had killed her stepfather when she found nude photos of herself on his computer, NBC News reports.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

  • Drought: The pace of groundwater depletion in the Central Valley has accelerated dramatically during the drought, with heavy agricultural farming driving water levels to new lows, The Los Angeles Times reports.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

  • Police misconduct: The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California found that the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office was illegally detaining undocumented immigrants, CapRadio reports.

  • Tenant background checks: Alameda County has become the first in the nation to pass a law barring landlords from conducting criminal background checks on applicants, The Guardian reports.

  • Twitter influence: In response to a 2017 request from the Pentagon, Twitter kept online a network of accounts that the U.S. military used to advance its interests in the Middle East, according to internal company emails that were made public by The Intercept.


The rainbow sandwich at Bub and Grandma’s.Credit…Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

What we’re eating

California’s timeless veggie sandwiches have one crucial ingredient.


Credit…Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Wendy Taylor, who recommends kayaking followed by lunch in Morro Bay on the Central Coast:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.


Tell us

Have you visited any of the travel destinations that we’ve recommended in the newsletter? Send us a few lines about your trip, and a photo!

We’d like to share them in upcoming editions of the newsletter. Email us at CAToday@nytimes.com. Please include your name and the city in which you live.

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Credit…Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control, via Associated Press

And before you go, some good news

As 2022 comes to a close, NBC Los Angeles has collected some of the best feel-good stories of the year.

There was the girl who got a unicorn license from Los Angeles County animal control officials, and the L.A. nurse who was reunited with her stolen sheepdog. “She’s my best friend in the world,” the nurse said about her dog Bexley. “I love her so much.”

Read all of the stories here.


Thanks for reading. We’ll be back in your inbox on Jan. 3. Enjoy your holiday. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Harrison Hill, Briana Scalia and Isabella Grullón Paz contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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