Certain activities that mean Christmas

Snow day in Chula Vista, Holiday train rides in Campo, Nutcracker tea, USD Lessons and Carols, toy giving at Lincoln High

Snow Day San Diego features winter tubing, ice skating, miniature train rides, and a 12-foot gingerbread house.
  • Snow Day San Diego features winter tubing, ice skating, miniature train rides, and a 12-foot gingerbread house.

This New England girl has finally adjusted to the warm weather Christmas season. It only took 20 years. During those years, I felt patronized by fake snow painted on windows, manmade snow hills, and ice skating on the beach in 70-degree weather. I finally grew used to all of it — more than used to it, charmed by it. But you can’t take the New England out of a gal. There will always be certain activities that mean Christmas, such as the Nutcracker, the Messiah, snow, and giving from the heart.

Snow Day

Rohr Park

4548 Sweetwater Road, Bonita

“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.”

And dreaming is all this Connecticut gal usually gets here in San Diego. But not this year. Rohr Park will be turning into a synthetic snow wonderland of white come December. Winter tubing, ice skating, miniature train rides, a giant 12-foot gingerbread house, a snow globe photo booth, enough holiday gladness to make even Bing Crosby proud. Purchase online and early. As I type, some days are already sold out. Tickets, which start at $12, are still available for Friday and Saturday, December 22 and 23, and Monday, December 25, through December 30. Winter fun runs from 6:00 to 10:30 p.m.

North Pole Limited holiday train rides

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

State Highway 94 and Forrest Gate Road, Campo

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling, too.”

But change those sleigh bells to train whistles. Trains and Christmas have been hanging together since the mid-20th century when everyone seemed to have an electric train whistling around their tinsel-draped Christmas trees. Well this year, pack up the kiddies and hop aboard the 1920s restored vintage commuter car the North Pole Limited for a 90-minute ride. Caroling with Santa’s elves, cookies, and hot chocolate, a holiday read-aloud, and even a stop at Santa’s Workshop to pick up the big man himself for photos and visiting. The train runs from December 1st through the 23rd on Friday and Saturday evenings, departing either at 5:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance: adults, $35; children 3–12 for $25; under 3 for $10.

Nutcracker Holiday Tea

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Carmel Valley

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…”

The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Waltz of the Snowflakes, the Russian dancers — come each December, visions of the Nutcracker dance in this child’s head. On Saturday, December 23, the Nutcracker Holiday Tea will commence, with a show at 10:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Sit back and enjoy an abridged version of the holiday classic performed by the Scripps Performing Arts Academy while enjoying tea sandwiches and French pastries. Adult tickets are $65, children (age 4–12) are $38. Ten dollars of each ticket goes to Isabella’s Giraffe Club, a nonprofit that provides emotional and educational support for parents with infants in intensive care.

Lessons and Carols

“Once in Royal David’s City stood a lowly cattle-shed.”

USD: University of San Diego

5998 Alcalà Park, USD

This Christmas carol is the opening song for a festival tradition dating back to 1918 when the first Lessons and Carols were held on Christmas Eve in King’s College, Cambridge. The service includes readings from the Old and New Testament of the Bible amid music, a service focused on the birth of Jesus. Here in San Diego, at one of our most beautiful churches, Founders Chapel at the University of San Diego, the festival will be presented Saturday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 10, at 2:00 p.m. Free.

Toys for Joy

Lincoln High School

4777 Imperial Avenue, Lincoln Park

“Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer/Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year.”

This world needs more gratitude, more generosity, more compassion. What better way to instill those qualities than to volunteer. This holiday season, the event Toys for Joy, on Saturday, December 9, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., will be one such opportunity. Volunteers are needed to help pass out free toys, free lunch, free groceries and free gently used clothing to those in need at four locations around San Diego. Entertainment and kids’ activities also provided. El Cajon Valley, Southwest, and Vista High Schools host Toys for Joy events the same day.

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