7 Reasons Snowy Holidays Are Overrated

Growing up in the Midwest, the arrival of winter was cause for celebration. I bundled up in a thick armor of waterproof, insulated layers, a la Ralphie’s kid brother in A Christmas Story, and ventured into the backyard to spend hours building snow forts with my friends. I loved lobbing around snowballs, coasting on toboggans, and sculpting towering snow blobs before heading inside to warm up with a steaming mug of hot cocoa and a cozy sweater. Those were glorious times, the stuff of childhood legends.

Now that I’ve spent a decade in Southern California, things are a bit different come wintertime: I’ve grown accustomed to the sight of palm trees festooned with an array of shiny objects, I no longer wear socks in December unless I’m hiking, and my hot cocoa comes with a dash of peppermint schnapps. While some people might scoff at the idea of spending the holidays – or, the horror, an entire winter – stuck in a warm-weather locale, I’d like to explain why snow-free living still offers a hearty dose of winter magic.

Weather. Ok, let’s be real and get this giant, suntanned elephant out of the way. One of the best things about living in a warm weather place during winter is, um, the weather. Even though water occasionally falls from the sky, here in SoCal we’re generally blessed with the year-round reality of “72 and sunny.” When your mom texts you a photo of the thermometer outside her house in Frozenville, Wisconsin, you text back the best emoticon appropriation of pity, then thank your lucky stars you live in a place where you don’t have to spend a half-hour coaxing your car to work properly.

You can choose when and how to interact with snow. Sure, I have to drive to the mountains to commune with the white stuff, but the plus side is that I never have to step foot in one single inch of sloshy, grey mush. You cold climate folks know exactly what I’m talking about – those days long after a fresh dump are not exactly the stuff of Currier & Ives. Plus, my ankles are never damp, my shoes are never crusted with road salt, and I never have a visual reminder that dogs pee everywhere.

And when you do interact with snow, you appreciate it. I will admit that every single time I head off to play in the mountains, I revert to my 10-year-old self, gleefully whipping off snowballs and flapping around on the ground to make snow angels. Last December, I even spent several hours carefully constructing an enormous, seven-foot snowperson with two adult friends, which earned us a spot on the morning news. Childhood me would have been very, very pleased.

It’s always climbing season. Oh, I’m sorry – are your favorite climbs dusted in snow and wracked by howling, minus-twenty winds during the winter? Mine are actually three hundred times more pleasant to climb than during the sweaty summer months. To be fair, I’ve nearly frozen off my fingertips in Joshua Tree on one or two occasions, but I was already missing most of the skin there, anyways, so that’s an acceptable tradeoff for year-round climbing opportunities.

You can indulge in every single one of your favorite sports, sometimes in the same day. Running, tennis, bouldering, kayaking, backpacking – warm weather people do it all, 365 days a year. It isn’t just a myth – there are real, live humans in SoCal who wake up for dawn patrol on the Pacific, then cruise up to the mountains for some afternoon pow. In this magical land, surf and turf isn’t just for dinner, folks.

You don’t have to change your outdoor wardrobe all that much. I’ve heard terrifying tales of people who buy special insulated leggings to continue their morning runs in the winter. People who hike with hand warmers tucked into their gloves. People who wear socks even when they’re not hiking. Even though I might toss a beanie on from time to time, my year-round hiking outfit consists of a pair of grubby running shorts, a tank top, and a lightweight sun shirt. Pants, you say? What are pants?

You can ring in New Year’s Day on the beach. Or in the desert. Or at the local park. Or in the pool. Or, okay, in the mountains if you really want to go play in the snow – remember, it’s your choice!