The thought of spending Christmas without my family, the familiar sights and smells of home and the perfect embrace of a Christmas eve drink with friends in our local pub was, quite frankly, depressing. I evaded the issue and lamented the lack of Christmas cheer in our surroundings— “happy holidays” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Time stops for no one however and sure enough Christmas week was quickly upon us. We planned to drive to Lake Tahoe with a couple of friends and their friend who was pit-stopping in the Bay Area on her way to Canada. All five of us are Irish and a long way from family. Clutching parcels of presents from home and bags of ingredients for familiar meals we made our way in to the mountains. Our condo had no internet access; this fact did not render me overly pleased but I sucked it up and focussed on what our accommodation did have, namely a large fireplace.
Also snow. Nothing turns grumpy adults into joyful innocent child-like creatures like fresh snow. Throw it. Shake it. Stomp in it. Slide on it. Jump on a baking tray and launch your self down the hill in it. Trust me, it is magical.
We ate a lot of cheese, crackers and chocolate. We cooked a big Christmas dinner that tasted just like home but with the added novelty of no bickering siblings or side-eye bullying. We played games, held aggressive but respectful debates and watched a lot of SNL skits.
I don’t want to spend every Christmas away from my family—I really love those guys—but this one did not suck one bit and I am forever thankful for that.
How was your Christmas day? Did you eat too much but still manage to fight over who gets the last roast potato?
South Lake Tahoe is about a 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco…in good weather. In snow make sure to give yourself extra time. The condo we stayed in is located at over 7,000 feet elevation and so we needed snow chains (we passed through a compulsory checkpoint where they were checked) which slowed us down but made the drive manageable. We stopped in Sacramento to purchase chains at Walmart (they’re cheap and despite the driving snow, pretty simple to put on). Sacramento is the half way point between SF and Lake Tahoe and made it the most obvious place to stop. On the way home we stopped in Davis— a sweet, sleepy college town—to eat. South Lake Tahoe is full of casinos shops and restaurants. If that’s your idea of heaven then stay close to the town, if you’d rather not gamble your life savings or hang out in Starbucks then look for somewhere a little higher up. Our condo was in Heavenly Valley and very close to ski slopes. We are planning on returning in the summer to camp and hike and take advantage of the beautiful scenery.