What brought you joy in 2023?

Happy Friday.

Today, as we enter December and look back on all that was 2023, I’m sharing some of the wonderful messages readers sent us about the best part of the year. Reading these notes is one of my favorite things about this job, and I hope you enjoy them too.

Please keep emailing me about your 2023 wins at CAtoday@nytimes.com and include your full name and city.

Here are some notes from our readers, lightly edited:

“I have a cabin in the mountains of Trinity County. When it’s foggy and chilly on the Humboldt Coast, my greatest joy is driving the hour to my cabin and basking in the 90 degree heat by the pool overlooking the Trinity River. This is the first year in so many that I haven’t had to worry about the fire consuming it on one side or the other. What a wonderful summer.” Pam Cahill, Bayside

“This year I received a cochlear implant in my left ear. I still have a long road of hearing rehabilitation ahead of me until I can fully understand people, but I enjoyed my ability to hear sounds that I never had access to before. I found that my label maker makes a cute little buzzing sound when it prints. Now I notice a leaky faucet in our bathroom when I work from home. In the evening I hear my daughter’s cries and I don’t need a baby monitor. Most of all, I’m excited that I won’t miss my daughter’s first words when she talks soon!” Audrey Sze, Foster City

“My husband and I celebrated our 88th birthday and, more importantly, our 70th wedding anniversary this year. Most wonderful of all, we have friends – most of whom are the age of our two sons who don’t live nearby – and they all treat us like precious friends.” Jan O’Brien, Folsom

“This summer we moved my youngest child into their home at CSU Monterey Bay. It is a beautiful school, environment and spirit. They are the first person in our family to attend college, and they had their older brother, dad, me (mom), and an old family friend (college grad) help move them in and be there for them on the weekend. It was so joyful and wonderful. Watching them work on this, plan now, has been a great joy this year. Living their best college life, trying new things – rugby! — making new friends and discovering new interests and skills in your classes.” Elena P. Craig, Fairfax

“First, the rain. It was a gift not only to me, of course, but I enjoyed every drop, even when my home was leaking like a sieve. I will have the same pleasure in the coming winter, especially if there is a lot of rain.

“Secondly, getting a passport again. What a complete adventure. And it arrived just in time for me to experience the joy of travel for the first time in decades. Italy, a wedding and amazingly good food.

“The latest and rather recent — don’t laugh — faint start to the resurgence of the phoenix that is San Francisco. The neighborhoods are lively, small businesses are opening along with theaters and comedy shows, the streets are crowded at night, the tables outside in the restaurants are filled, the bars are full of laughter. Not that our difficulties are over, but there is something sparkling in the air.” Eleanor Najjar, San Francisco

Today’s tip comes from Jorge Moreno, California State Parks spokesman. Moreno recommends the Locke Boarding House Museum near Sacramento:

“The Locke Boarding House was built in 1909, before the formal development of the town of Locke. The Chinese who worked on the construction of the South Pacific Railroad stayed there. Today, the guesthouse operates as a museum that provides visitors with a glimpse into the past and is part of the Locke Historic District, a Chinese-American community founded in 1915. It is the largest and most intact surviving example of a historic Chinese-American rural community in the United States and the only remaining example in the Sacramento Delta- San Joaquin.”

Tell us about your favorite places in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in future editions of the newsletter.


How do you celebrate the holidays in California? With a cool walk along the beach, a pile of tamales, or stargazing in the desert?

Email me at CAtoday@nytimes.com with your Golden State holiday traditions. Please include your name and city where you live.


December has arrived, and the season of holiday lights is upon us. Multi-colored bulbs are strung in front of homes across California, and dazzling displays dot front yards.

In honor of the season and the high power, The Mercury News has published a list of the 21 best light displays in the Bay Area.

The lineup includes neighborhoods like “Crippsmas Place” in North Fremont, where front yards are lit up with cutouts of classic cartoon characters, and city institutions like the Oakland Zoo, which hosts “Glowfari,” in which giant lanterns shaped like zoo animals are displayed throughout basics.

Other notable activities include “Christmas in the Park” celebrations in San Jose and a visit to a home in Newark with a 33-foot inflatable Santa Claus.

You can visit many exhibitions for free. Find the complete list of sparkling shows here.


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya

PS Here today’s Mini Crossword.

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