Happy Holidays Everyone,
Before everyone takes off on their vacations from their virtual world, I just thought I’d wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, etc. Please be safe if you are traveling this season!
As I pushed through the chilling temperatures and blustery winds of San Francisco during my run last night I kept reminding myself of those cold December nights I’ve spent in New York City, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. Nothing will ever compare to those cold bitter nights when I wore long underwear under my wool suits and wondered why I left my “City by the Bay”. I do remember telling myself that I would remember those days so I would appreciate San Francisco that much more when I would eventually return. Although cold, my run was dry and I ran down the festively lit shopping areas of Sacramento St, Fillmore St., California, and Clement St. distracting myself with the observations of the decorations people had in their windows.
While the glittery lights were dazzling and the quietness of the air still reminded me of how our economy is not quite back up to speed, the most warming images of my run were of the people.
First, there was the elderly couple walking together with their arms around each other as they left their party at Spruce Restaurant (http://www.sprucesf.com). They stopped and kissed saying “I love you” and touching their foreheads together in the middle of the sidewalk as I dodged them. It was a split second of our paths crossing but it was a beautiful image.
Second, there were the two inebriated young ladies in their short cocktail dresses stumbling out of the Elite Cafe (http://www.theelitecafe.com/) before crashing to the ground. I say crashing because they fell backwards into me as I ran behind them. Fortunately I caught one before she hit her head on one of the tables outside. They were inebriated because as the cabbie and I helped them to their feet, neither of them could pronounce their destination. I laughed when she said they were going to New York. A great guy, the cabbie, a little Frenchman in his beret and scruffy clothes had me and one of the waiters watch him as he helped one girl open her purse to find her address. She kissed his scruffy face as he pushed her back into the cab. “Welcome to Christmas on the Barbary Coast”, he said as he tipped his cap to us while mentioning one of the many long-gone nicknames of San Francisco. I think I ran a whole another mile before the whole incident washed behind me, turning towards home. The cab driver reminded me of the kindness of people at this time of year.
As I passed by San Francisco’s only 24 hour Starbucks in Laurel Village (yes I love running by it at night just so that I can get a whiff of the caffeine aroma) a bunch of Fire Engine’s raced by me. Looking for an alternate route, I followed their sirens. A Portable Potty had been set ablaze nearby. This has been the work of arsons as dozens have been set on fire over the last year.
Not wanting to end my run on a negative note, I continued on and started to notice a pattern that is so familiar this time of year. I had been seeing it over the a past week as cars and taxis pull up in front of homes and the dwellers come out to greet and hug a family member returning home. The tears of joy and happiness really signify what this season is about and while the images weren’t exactly Norman Rockwell-esque, they told the story. The story of family and friends coming together. I even saw a soldier returning home a couple weeks ago in full gear as his mother screamed when she opened the door (adorned with a yellow ribbon).
All of these images (including the fiery portable toilet) told the story of 2009. Maybe they weren’t my story, but they were nice ones.
2009 will be just that for me. “A Nice One”. I’ll definitely take that after 2008. I needn’t look much further than 2008 to remember what was happening last year as my wife was recovering from her second surgery in 3 months and we scheduled ourselves for a very low key Christmas with only enough fanfare to keep our kid’s spirits high. Just 365 days ago I sat by her bedside making sure she’d be okay just to get up and deal with Christmas. While 2009 was no picnic, and we did deal with two more minor surgeries, life today compared to last year couldn’t be much better healthwise.
The holiday is often on its long tail as we’ve already had two family gatherings, a work party and a large bash at a friend’s home yet we are still 3 days shy of Christmas. We still have two more family gatherings to go to. Such is the life of the fragmented world and family. As I sit here in my den, I know of local friends spending the holiday in Hawaii, Argentina, Spain, France, England, Italy & Brazil just to name those places not on this continent. They all sound enticing…. the Champs Elysees on Christmas? How magical does that sound!?
Well San Francisco is where we remain and where we will keep our hearts this Christmas! No snow and no sand! The image above is from Sara Showalter, (www.sarashowalter.com) or @gidget on Twitter. A great local artist, the image was used for our holiday card this year. If you are looking for an artist or photographer, I highly recommend her. And the best thing about her? She is a diehard San Francisco Giants fan!