Happy New Year! Looking towards a brighter 2021

Looking Back at this year’s Holiday Season
I hope that you all had a Happy and safe Holiday season — Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. — whatever Holiday tradition you love to celebrate.  People’s family traditions for Holiday celebrations are a vast and diverse collection of various customs and rituals,   As we bring this year to a close, I’d like to share some of my family’s holiday traditions.

As a Navy Brat, my family moved a bit, but a lot less than most military families.  My early years were spent growing up in Southern California — Chula Vista, Huntington Beach, and San Diego before the Hills made the trek to Hawaii where we spent an entire decade.  

Christmas was always my favorite holiday — not just because of the presents, but the colorful lights and decorations really helped to get me into the spirit.  It seemed like as soon as Thanksgiving was over, the Christmas season would begin.  Our family would have an Advent calendar to help us countdown the 25 days from the new month till Christmas!  We wouldn’t put up the decorations until we opened the first “door” to the calendar.

But the real kickoff to the holidays was always looking through the toy section of the Sears catalog, looking for what we were going to ask from Santa.  Once Star Wars toys were a thing, they were the main focus of my wants and desires for December 25th.  The pictures in the catalog would make the Death Star playset, Millennium Falcon, and action figures look like the greatest things ever invented.  And so would begin the visualization of seeing them under the tree less than a month later, but what seemed like an eternity to wait!

Many kids wrote letters to Santa and sent them in the mail to the North Pole. Not us Hill kids — we’d write our letters to Santa on Christmas Eve and then stuff them in our stockings, not questioning how he would be able to instantly fulfill our wish list after coming down the chimney.  Turns out we had Mom & Dad – Santa’s Helpers to thank — after all, they saw us going through the Wish Catalog and knew what was on our list.  They probably called up the North Pole in advance to pass the word on to the guy in red.

We never went shopping for Christmas trees — my family always had a “fake” tree as we were growing up.  The advantage was not only with fire safety, but Mom & Dad didn’t have to vacuum endless pine needles off the carpet all month.  Plus, our tree maintained a consistent look throughout the years — in all our Super 8 home movies, the tree looks almost the same; you can only tell what year it is by what’s under the tree itself (along with the age of us kids – and how many of us there are in the film!)

After growing up and moving here to Hollywood, it became a Christmas tradition for me to make the trek down to that childhood home of mine in San Diego to spend Christmas with the family.  Once Pamela & I were married, we would both make that trip together many times over the years.   

But of course, I don’t have to mention this year and the unique challenges we’ve all faced.  So for this year, we’ve stayed put up here in L.A., but Pamela & I managed to celebrate Christmas together in our own way.  Pamela loves to do arts & crafts, often creating her own greeting cards and gifts for family and friends.  This year, she surprised me by creating our own Christmas tree (which you can see above).  She did this in secret right under my nose, without me knowing!  (She’d make a good ninja!)   

Pamela has her own family traditions as well.  As a Jewish gal growing up in Cincinnati, Hanukkah was her family’s Holiday.  When we first started dating, I had my first Hanukkah with her, and learned how to light the Menorah and recite the Hanukkah prayer.  When we were married, I got us our own Hanukkah Menorah that we light together each year. This year, I documented each night on Instagram, along with our Charlie Brown and Lucy salt & pepper shakers as they look on at the bright candleight. So December is a big holiday month for us — With Hanukkah, Christmas, and Pamela’s Birthday, I call it the “December Trifecta”!

It’s been a challenging season, and challenging year.¬† As we enter 2021, we can begin to look forward to finally being able to see each other in person and go back to really being together, not just on Zoom. Here is wishing a Happy, Safe and Healthy¬†New Year to you and your loved ones.