While much has changed since I penned my winter message last year, there’s no question these are still uncertain and unprecedented times. While some may find a happy return to semi-normalcy this holiday season, others might struggle to adjust to the ever-shifting “new normal” or simply count down the days to the welcome end of another pandemic year. But after everything we’ve been through, I think most folks are more grateful than ever for the people and places that have sustained us through so much isolation and upheaval — including the close bonds of our very special community.
Perhaps we can take a cue from Toluca Lake’s patron saint, Bob Hope, who deeply understood how it felt to be away from home and loved ones during the holidays. By all accounts, the Hopes loved Christmas (they reportedly sent out 10,000 cards during the season), and Bob traveled tirelessly every December for decades to bring cheer to U.S. troops and record TV specials that became a beloved annual tradition for millions of viewers. Knowing how important it was for him to share his gifts with others, the Hopes simply celebrated their family holiday when he was able to return to Toluca Lake, regardless of the date on the calendar. This spirit of generosity, flexibility and focusing on the things that truly matter is one that I hope (no pun intended) can help us find comfort and joy even in imperfect conditions.
While the greatest gift is meaningful time spent together, that’s not to say we don’t also deserve a little holiday sparkle. In this issue, we bring you dozens of ways to enjoy the season in Toluca Lake style, including a shopping guide full of unique and thoughtful gift ideas from area businesses, as well as tempting recipes from favorite restaurants. We’ve also got inspiring stories of local heroes: a comic-book superhero born right in our hometown, residents giving back to help those in need, and legendary World War II veteran Audie Murphy, who plays a major role in Patrick Curtis’ charming childhood memories about horsing around the neighborhood in the 1950s.
However you celebrate, I urge you to keep your spending close to home whenever possible. Having a vibrant selection of local shops, restaurants and services isn’t just a nice convenience — it’s a vital component of our community identity. Please be sure to support our wonderful advertisers and all the businesses that have been there for Toluca Lake through the many ups and downs of the past year.
From all of us at Toluca Lake Magazine, thank you for your readership, and warm wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.