My Unconventional Family’s Christmas in Palm Springs

January 5, 2016

My parents divorced when I was twelve years old because my dad is gay.  Throughout the divorce, my parents were adamant that they would put my sister and me first and for every decision they would do what was right for the family.  My dad met Jerry a few months after the divorce, and while blending families can be difficult, I think it’s something we’ve managed to do quite well.  One of the things that we have always done is spend our holidays together: my mom, dad, Jerry, my sister and me.

Since my family is quite nontraditional, it usually surprises people when I tell them that we spend our holidays together.  But for the past 20 years, my parents have always taken turns hosting, alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My dads moved to Palm Springs over the summer and decided with the move not to come up this year for Thanksgiving.  This made our Christmas celebration even more important to everyone.  And a bit more exciting as they would be hosting us in Palm Springs.  This was the first time that we’d be seeing their house in person since the move.

When we landed on Wednesday, two days before Christmas, it was great to see the house, get a tour and settle in.  Since we’d had an early morning (we had to leave at 5:00 am), we were all pretty tired so we had a relaxed afternoon.  I did take advantage of the free time to go walk around the neighborhood and take a few photos.  I might be slightly obsessed with palm trees.

I laughed when my dads sent me this Christmas card, as I thought ‘people don’t really do that!’  But then I walked by this front yard:

Even their cat, Avery, enjoys soaking up the sun:


When Jerry got home from work we went to dinner and had a great time catching up.  When we got back to the house, we decided to have a nice evening dip in the hot tub.  So far, I found life in Palm Springs was real rough.

My family has a lot of traditions for the holidays.  For us, Christmas Eve is as important, if not more so, that Christmas Day.  This year we woke up to a nice surprise.  The breakfast bar was already set with cute snowman mugs and there was a small gift at each plate.


We had breakfast and opened the presents to find a beautiful glass palm tree ornament that my dad and Jerry and gotten each of us.

We then made a morning coffee run and got ready for the day so that we could make it to our Christmas Eve movie.  Yup, we always do a Christmas Eve movie, a tradition I’ve tried to keep even when I’m overseas.  This year we went and saw Sisters which we absolutely loved!  It was funnier than I expected and we pretty much laughed through the entire thing.  Plus, my family has a new catchphrase (ballerina hole) that we’ve been using at every opportunity since then.

After our Christmas Eve movie, we go out for pizza.  Since there is always a lot of cooking on Christmas Day we take a break on the Eve.  We call around ahead of time to make sure that places are open, but it never seems to fail that when we get there, our destination is closed.  This year was no different and we had to pull over in the parking lot so my dad could take out his phone and start calling places to see who else was actually open.  We found another spot pretty easily and were on our way.

After dinner we went back to the house.  We have another tradition of reading stories on Christmas Eve and then my sister and I each get to open 1 present, which is always new pajamas.  The best part of the pj’s is that my mom has already washed them so they smell like our childhood.  This is also when Jerry gets to open his ‘Year in Review’ letter.  Ever since they first got together, my dad has written a letter to Jerry at Christmas about their year together chronicling their highs, lows, significant changes and crazy stories.  Over the years it’s gotten quite long; this year’s was 73 pages.

Christmas morning everyone woke up early.  Everyone got coffee (except me, as the resident non-coffee drinker) and then we started with stockings.  I was very excited this year for presents.  While I appreciate getting presents, I enjoy giving them even more.  As we’ve gotten older, we have fewer gifts, but they tend to be much more meaningful.  My sister and I did a big gift for my dads, combining Father’s Day, Birthdays and Christmas.  We commissioned an original painting from Rosalyn Mahr.  We originally met her at the Boise Christmas Show a couple of years ago.  Since one of my dads’ cats passed earlier in the year, we thought it would be the perfect time to have her do a piece for them.  We had to have them open it last, as we knew that it would be very emotional for both of them.  Sure enough, the minute they saw it, the waterworks started.  They hung it up right away.  I’m sure it will be a treasured gift for them for years to come.

I got a couple fun gifts this year too.  My sister bought me a gift certificate to Zip Boise, a new zip-lining place in town.  I will wait until it gets a bit warmer, but then will be taking advantage and doing a full post on that experience!  I also got these cute napkins, which couldn’t be truer.


I didn’t get my Christmas Giving request.  However, my birthday is in a few weeks, so I’ll wait and see if anyone gifts it for that occasion.  If not, I will take some of the money that I didn’t spend over the holiday and make a donation.

After gifts, we did another coffee run.  What can I say?  My family is addicted and Koffi is literally not even a half block away.  Then it was back home to relax a bit before lunch.

Whenever my dad hosts Christmas he makes shrimp scampi.  Both of my parents are incredible cooks, which I think is a big part of why I love food so much.  But with a meal like this, what’s not to like?

My mom also carried a batch of her infamous Monster Cookies on the plane so we’d have a nice dessert.


The afternoon was spent with phone calls and texts back and forth to family.  And then it was time for my favorite tradition: playing Cards Against Humanity.  (I said we have an unconventional family…)  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas we drink wine, play cards and laugh.  This year we only had time for one round, but that’s ok, because I won.

What does your family do for the holidays?  Do you have family traditions?

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My Unconventional Family’s Christmas in Palm Springs

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  • Reply Jess January 6, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    What a great story! I want to spend next Christmas with you and your family! Great food, fun gifts, Cards of Humanity (!!!), and great company! On a sidenote, I need to see Sisters! I’m glad you recommend it.

    • Reply GadAbouttheGlobe January 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks! My family is a hoot, especially around the holidays. And yes, go see Sisters-it’s hysterical!

  • Reply Julie January 7, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Sounds like a lovely day in a nice (warm!) location! I spent the holidays away from family this year, a first, but had a great day anyway. It’s always nice to rely on those traditions that make your holiday yours but also shake things up a bit, like in a new locale! Happy New Year!

    • Reply GadAbouttheGlobe January 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      I’m glad that you had a good holiday even though you were away from family. That can be tough. I find that sticking to traditions is always fun, but I’m always up for new experiences too.

  • Reply Shopping in Palm Springs | Gad About the Globe January 10, 2016 at 11:35 am

    […] mall is normally open from 10am to 8pm, but since we went the day after Christmas, they opened at 7am.  We decided that we weren’t going to get up quite that early, so we slept […]

  • Reply Elisia January 10, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Next year I’m coming to Palm Springs with you. Looks like you had a blast! Keep me posted on zip lining.

    • Reply GadAbouttheGlobe January 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Will do!

      • Reply Dolly October 20, 2016 at 8:36 pm

        Looking though your blog after I saw your card on the Some Odd Girl's facebook page… really love your style, shabby, fun, but still so bright and wo!ndrful!e! Great inspiration! Robin F.

  • Reply Patty January 15, 2016 at 7:20 am

    I love your family tradition! And I especially love the letter writing and story reading! Although, sounds like your dad writes memoirs… did he read that out loud? I’m sure it took a few hours…

    • Reply GadAbouttheGlobe January 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      We just read the stories out loud; they don’t share the letter with the family. My dads have said that we’re only allowed to read them after they’re dead, so I’m guessing there’s some pretty crazy stories in them!

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