I awoke to find that Santa had found me all the way in Santa Cruz! Along with the stockings for all of their children and grandchildren, Heidi and Mike (my gracious hosts for most of December) had also filled a stocking for me. And just like the ones I get back home, it included a toothbrush. I guess parents are the same everywhere.
After a quick breakfast and stocking-opening, I shuffled cheerfully off to work a two-hour shift at the coffee shop. My boss didn't require any of us to work and wasn't planning to be open, but he offered anyone who wanted to come in the opportunity to set our own hours, make good tips, and donate all of the profit for the day to a shared employee bonus fund. It was lovely to see all of the smiling regulars with their families on Christmas!
|The cafe on Christmas morning|
|Our overflowing tip jar|
Our original plan after lunch was to see a movie, but we opted last minute for the beach instead. Since we had just finished receiving a huge storm over several days, the beach was strewn with piles of driftwood and kelp for miles. There were families building structures on the sand in santa hats and people running barefoot in the cold water. I can safely say I've never been to the beach on Christmas before.
|Long shot of the shore (lighthouse in the distance)|
|Me running into the water|
|Evan tasting the fondue|
|The family table|
|Evan and Laina identifying superheros with their nephew in his new book|
I went to sleep with a smile on my face and a heart bursting with gratitude. I missed my family very much, of course, but was glad to be the complete opposite of alone on this holiday.