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RACHEL DOWNEY PHOTOGRAPHY

Christmas in Cambria

This year, for the first time, we spent Christmas in Cambria.

My parents bought the house down there almost five years ago–they knew they wanted to retire there, but they figured they’d look for a house early so they could enjoy it before the official move. We’ve been down for a few days after Christmas before, through Boxing Day and NYE, but now they’re officially retired, the house in Santa Clara is officially sold, and they’re officially living full time in Cambria.

We headed down on the Friday afternoon, sitting in the expected traffic with the expected theatrics from the dog in the back, switching between Duncan’s music and my murder true crime podcasts.

I had a show to dance in, so our first stop was Pacific Grove. We played in front of a sold out crowd, made some dirty jokes backstage, then hastily left to get moving on the remaining 2.5 hours of the drive.

After a quick stop at in-n-out, as is dancer tradition.

I tried, I really did, but I could only stay awake for an hour and a half. Even after pulling over and doing jumping jacks in the dark and the cold. Duncan drove the rest of the way down, bless him. We crashed into the house after midnight as quietly as two tired people with a frantic dog could. Whiskey’s nails slipped all over the hardwood floor, but he was excited to be back.

The next day was a sleepy one, which set the tone for the whole weekend. Punctuated only by a walk on the bluffs and another show that evening, we spent most of the day on the sofa, or in the kitchen. (Except Duncan, who woke up and decided to take himself on a 10k run.)

The 23rd saw us setting up a cheese-related picnic at a winery, where we sat about in the sun (sorry friends across the pond), pet goats, and, in my case, excitedly fed them bits of apple. Back at the house, Duncan made old fashioneds and we played Mario Kart, and really, what more do you want?

Christmas Eve was just as lazy. Another walk on the bluffs, another afternoon spent reading, lounging, making scones. It’s tradition in my house: teatime on Christmas Eve is marked by scones with jam and cream, tea, and the “fancy” cups and saucers. We went into Morro Bay for dinner, then more Mario Kart.

On Christmas, Duncan and I started our day early by jumping on a video chat with his family back in Wales. His parents run a hotel there, and his sister and her family were staying for the holidays. The boys called me “Aunty Rachel.” My brother and his wife-to-be made it into town, along with their wee pup, Bleu. They’ve had her for…6 months? I don’t know. She’s an odd one, but she’s adorable, and she settled right in. We took her on a walk to (surprise) the bluffs, then had a big breakfast together, followed by more video chats with friends and family in Ireland, followed by Irish coffees.

We watched Die Hard after a big dinner because it’s a Christmas movie.

 

It was our first Christmas together as a married couple.

 

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