A Big Bear Thanksgiving


At the annual tree lighting in Big Bear

As a kid, I have fond memories of preparing for our annual Christmas trip up north to Oakdale to visit the Postma’s and Tilma’s…filling the backseat of the Chevy with a pillow, some books and assorted lip smackers and TigerBeat magazines. It was a long car ride, nearly 6 hours on Hwy 99; Mom and Dad would play a tape (Willy Nelson’s Pretty Paper was a favorite) and maybe dangle the hope of stopping at Denny’s on the other side of the grapevine for a quick bite. Once at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, it was time to claim bedrooms and settle in for a nice stay.

One of the best things about being back in So Cal is the promise of spending time with family during the holidays.  This past week, Tim and I and the kids packed up the car for our trip to Big Bear, a sweet little town up in the San Bernardino Mountains, where we met up with my mom and dad and our daughter Lauren.  We stayed at the same cabin we’ve rented for the past 10 years–the cabin next door to the place we used to stay when I was in high school. There’s nothing fancy about the place, but it does sleep 12 and has the charm of a rustic bear getaway.


The cabin on Mt Doble Rd


Our old cabin on Mt Doble Rd

Upon arrival, we were delighted to see it had already been decorated for Christmas, little teddy bears with santa hats clinging to the banister and strings of Christmas lights throughout the living area.  The kids quickly scattered through the place to claim their beds while the adults found their resting spots on couches and easy chairs. It wasn’t long before we were all in lounge wear, sipping Dapper Dans and tucking into a good book.


There’s always one family member who insists on making Thanksgiving count for something. Yep, that’s me and this year, in my zeal to create “the most meaningful discussion ever,” I printed The Thanksgiving Reader from Seth Godin. Conversation was lively with some tears and many laughs. The meal itself was an easy affair. We elected to have ham (Honey Baked brought by grandma and grandpa) which reduced the amount of stress in the kitchen. I think a new Thanksgiving tradition was born.


The remainder of our days was filled with card playing, book reading and nap-taking. The snow continued to fall in gentle flakes, a gentle glittery snow globe outside the big picture window. We managed to make it out of the cabin on Friday for the tree lighting on main street.  The crowd was huge. Santa and Mrs Claus made an appearance and families jockeyed for prime photo spots in front of the Christmas tree.  We bought three monster caramel apples and wolfed them down in front of the large fire pit on the street as a quartet of sexy Santa’s helpers sang christmas carols. Later, as the festivities were winding down and the streets emptied out,  carolers in traditional Dickens’ garb strolled down main street singing, “Joy to the World”, fitting for the beginning of the season.


Downtown Big Bear


Dickens’ carolers

North Pole Fudge

Best caramel apples anywhere


Lilly relaxes by the outdoor fire pit


Santa’s Little Helpers

On Saturday, we closed up the cabin and headed back to Escondido. The ski resorts were open, families were stopped on the sides of the road playing in the snow and I could return home content knowing that we would return in just 4 weeks,  as a family, for Christmas.

*while spending our time huddled in the cabin over the holiday, my dad was a bit under the weather. Each day, he soldiered on but come Saturday, he determined it was time to go see a doctor.  After a quick consult, Dad was sent directly to radiology for a CT scan and soon after was admitted to the hospital for appendicitis. As of Wednesday, he still remains there under observation and will hopefully return home for a full recovery beginning Thursday.