Christmas in San Diego: A story of family, gifts, and helicopters

Christmas was always a wonderful experience growing up in San Diego, California. Photo: AP

SAN DIEGO, December 23, 2013 — Christmas was always a wonderful experience growing up in San Diego, California.

The concept of a white Christmas is not entirely lost on those who live in warm climates.  But in sunny San Diego, the experience of dashing through the snow is completely foreign.

Even though December is the coolest month of the year in San Diego, the average is still in the high 60s. Temperatures of 75 degrees or more are not uncommon during Christmas week.

The all time record: 88 degrees.

Average rainfall is just one and a half inches for the whole month. Local attractions do their best, bringing out the snow machines and create artificial snow to delight California children.

But how did Santa Claus ever deliver so many presents when it never snowed in San Diego, California?

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Photo courtesy of Laurie Edwards-Tate

At five years old, spending a San Diego-style Christmas holiday with aunts, cousins, grandparents and the entire family was especially joyful.

While peering out at a large picture window on Christmas Eve night, and anxious for Santa’s arrival, Dad was asked the fear-gripped question:

“How can Santa Claus deliver all the gifts to children in San Diego in his reindeer-driven sleigh if there is no snow?”

While taking his time to carefully answer this thoughtful question, Dad answered: “Honey, out here Santa arrives by helicopter.”

Santa Claus arrived without a hitch, and delightful gifts were waiting to be opened the very next morning.

Next year, at the age of six, the lesson learned the prior year about Santa’s use of a Christmastime vehicle for delivering gifts to San Diego area children, remained persistently in mind.

Hiding behind a large, overstuffed chair on Christmas Eve night, awaiting Santa Claus’ helicopter arrival seemed just like a perfect idea.

The hot chocolate and homemade cookies were awaiting Santa on the dining room table.

Spying, however, was for naught. Before Santa’s helicopter arrival, spying was quickly interrupted by parents who ushered their curious daughter safely back to bed.

The next morning, Christmas Day was especially exciting.

Gifts of a doctor’s kit to a model kitchen complete with cookware were among the favorites.

The doctor’s kit, however, was by far the most appreciated.

Complete with a plastic stethoscope, candy pills, bandages, and a variety of patient-care tools, it was fun and exciting pretending to be a nurse when cousins were all-too-willing patients as they arrived the afternoon Christmas Day dinner.

As beloved a gift as the doctor’s bag was, the greatest gift was being blessed to have large family gatherings, with great grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins to share the holiday experience.

It was natural to assume everyone else’s experience was the same.  It was simply not possible to fathom life without them, or the reality that slowly but surely life would change over the years.

The memories of Christmases past have become even more precious.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving family whether of blood or choice.

The holidays can be a lonely time, and it is incumbent upon each of us to do what we can to change this through paying forward the gift of time and fellowship towards others, that our families have lovingly given us.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

SEE RELATED: What Christmas means for our health

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare


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Laurie Edwards-Tate

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today.

Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top  Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.  Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home.

Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. 

 Follow Laurie and AYHF  at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact Laurie Edwards-Tate


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