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Slow Down & Connect

Slow Down & Connect 

For many in our all too frenetic society, the holiday season has become a marathon instead of a celebration, but does it need to be that way? Here at TNT our resolution this year is to enjoy this season of light and hope with more joy and less stress. We’ll be sharing favorite recipes, crafts, and inspiration all month—things families and friends can share together. As we head into December, we wish all of our readers a peaceful, joyful holiday season! Cover Design by Urs Baur.

December in the Santa Monica Mountains brings autumn color instead of winter snow. The sycamores and cottonwood trees are golden, and more exotic colors flame in gardens throughout the canyon—scarlet of liquidambar leaves, flame-colored crepe myrtles, and the vivid orange of persimmon fruit, framed by golden leaves. 

December brings the potential for fiery sunsets and sunrises as well, as we move towards the shortest day of the year, on December 21. Look for the Geminid meteor shower on the night of December 13. The new moon on December 12 means this year will offer optimal dark skies, and the potential for as many as 120 visible meteors per hour, peaking in the hours just after midnight.

An El Niño winter is still in the forecast, but so far, the heavy rains usually associated with this meteorological phenomenon have not yet materialized and fire danger remains high as we head into the rainy season. The devastating 1956 Newton-Hume-Sherwood Fire Sherwood fire, which burned from the Conejo Valley to the ocean at Broadbeach in 1956 ignited on Christmas Day. Fire danger remains a major concern as we enter the holiday season. We invite our readers to join me—TNT Editor Suzanne Guldimann—and longtime Topanga resident and local historian Scott King at the December 6 Topanga Historical Society meeting at the Topanga Community Center for a discussion of fire history and how to adapt to life in an extremely high fire hazard zone. It’s not a festive topic but it is an important one. Learn more at

Topanga is blessed to have not only its own historical society but a community center where events like this one can take place. TCC is the heart of the canyon’s community, providing enrichment programs for our youngest residents, our oldest residents, and everyone in between, since 1949. This volunteer-run organization was there during the coronavirus, organizing food deliveries and good cheer for residents. They’ve been there during fires and floods and in good times too, hosting ball games and square dances, community recycling efforts, and fundraisers. This is our voting center and our backyard, where community members can let their children play, gather for Friday night food trucks, or summer movies. 

Rusty red buckwheat seeds, and yellow sycamore leaves at small but beautiful Peter Strauss Ranch Park offer a taste of fall color. In other parts of the US, snow is already falling and a white Christmas is in the forecast, but here in the Santa Monica Mountains, December brings peak autumn color, as colder night temperatures turn sycamores and cottonwoods to California gold.
Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

TNT salutes both the outgoing and the new TCC board. We are delighted to award this tireless non profit our yearly award of a full page ad in this issue of Topanga New Times, in recognition of the spirit and ingenuity flowing from a new group of volunteers, building upon the foundation of volunteers before them. We look forward to seeing what 2023 brings for TCC. Learn more at 

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area may be ending the year with a modest but important growth spurt. More than 400 acres in Malibu are currently under negotiation, and so is 28-acre Mill Creek Ranch in Topanga. Both negotiations are expected to conclude in December. We have the details in our Newsbeat section. 

We have a little more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas than we did last year, but the holiday is still approaching far too fast, and Hanukkah is right around the corner—it begins December 7. Here in Topanga, our local shops are full of original, creative gifts that represent the true spirit of the Canyon. Some of the best gifts are experiences, rather than material items, and there are plenty of local options for this type of gift, too. Cooking classes, surfing, yoga, painting, ceramics, acting, are all possibilities, so is something as simple as making time for family, friends and ourselves. Taking time for a hike or a beach walk, or reserving time to do a craft with family members or help a friend with a project can offer a welcome respite to the mad rush that so often engulfs us at this time of the year and help remind us that the themes of the season are suppose to be peace and joy and light, not stress, anxiety and exhaustion. This can be a difficult time for those who are far from home, estranged from family, or struggling with loss or depression. Taking a moment to call and check on a friend or family member can mean more than any gift. 

Here’s to a beautiful, meaningful holiday season for all of us, no matter what holidays we observe, and to the undying hope for peace on earth that endures even in dark times.

Stay safe, be well. Watch for shooting stars.

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