Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in San Francisco

The funny thing about Christmas in San Francisco is that it’s very low key. You go to the East Coast and all the mainstream radio stations are playing hard core Christmas carols, everybody’s got decorations in their yard, and attending church (Catholic church, specifically) is first on the list of things to do. That’s not to say that San Franciscans don’t decorate, although there really isn’t much room. Many homes in the burbs are decorated. There’s an entire section in South San Francisco off of Chestnut Street that runs a fabulous (somewhat unspoken) competition each year. People pull up in tour buses to see it. You can tell which homes are own by a Filipino family, in fact, by the really cool lights they have in their windows, the ones that clearly aren’t UL Listed. The way the lights vibrate in and out is awesome. But in the city itself, the Christmas decorating is done in the interior in office buildings and stores, and of course inside the world of its children. The adult San Franciscans are busy being diverse, which means hanging baby Jesus on the tree is a no no (at least in the office), and the most intense celebrating is done within the sanctity and safety of family. We spend a lot of time being nondenominational in this city. When Christmas rolls around, San Franciscans, typically bustling and working and running around intently, are anxious to get home to the hearth, and for many of them that means traveling to wherever they came from.
San Francisco is more about Halloween, really … and the drag queens for whom most every day is a day to dress up. Sometimes I wish I were a drag queen, because then I’d have an excuse to wear false eye lashes every day like Miss Connie did. It’s funny what things from childhood leave the biggest impressions on us, isn’t it?

Christmas is approaching fast … just two days away, and my mind has cashed out completely. Last week, the push at work was intense. Deadlines, deliverables, and two big holiday events in the office left me completely pooped and reflecting on my health, happiness and the lessons I’ve learned over the last years. I’ve got plenty to do and absolutely to desire to do it. Nobody’s paying attention, anyway. People are in the office working, but you can see the glazed look in their eyes. Visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Even the administrative assistants who say they are catching up are catching much needed and well-deserved down time instead. What they’re doing now makes my days as an executive assistant look like a cake walk.

How do I feel?

I hesitate to use the word melancholy because I don’t admit to those kinds of feelings readily, but okay … I’m a little melancholy. We had such big plans in Connecticut around the togetherness of family and friends, and having those plans go up in smoke with immense finality was difficult. The grieving goes on, and I feel it the most this time of year.

I miss my grandmother, too, even if she is losing her marbles.

You can’t spend too much time pondering broken relationships when you’ve got a hyper eleven year old bouncing around, however. Powered on a cocktail of hormones and sugar (which, by the way, is present is practically everything we eat), and navigating a world that moves at the speed of light, our daughter is so busy agonizing over what’s in the packages under the tree (Santa is long since gone here), that she can barely contain herself. Everything is a debate, easily escalated into an argument, if we’re not careful. Our headstrong Aries daughter is a two parented project whose main ingredients include restraint and reason, applied with firm consistency and lots of hugs. She’s got a thing for reading in bed until the wee hours, no matter how lousy she feels the next morning. She takes pride in tearing through the books she reads at night and then asking me to fetch her another one from the bookshelf. She came into the office with me yesterday, and it was wonderful having her to myself. She kept so close to my personal space that I was either bumping her in the chest with my elbow (“Nana, that hurt!”) or stepping on her feet (“Ow! Why’d you do that for?”), both of which were immediately followed by hugs all around … reassurance and love in the face of accelerated growth in a lighting fast world. After tomorrow, we’re all home until January 5 of the New Year, for which Leslie is eternally grateful. Single parenting, even for just a day, can suck at times.
This year we will resurrect a long-standing Faber tradition and enjoy our Christmas dinner at The Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco. It’s opulent and expensive, but I don’t care. We get all dressed up, enjoy the 150 foot tree in the main dining room, live music, and graze contentedly from a buffet that makes my knees weak. We will enjoy this dinner and spit in the face of an uncertain economic forecast for 2009. Like terrorism, fear will only give them a win. Fuck that. I work happily and my family and I enjoy our prosperity. Fresh shrimp all around on Christmas Day. I hope they have crab legs, too.
Lunch Break on Market Street
After that, it's back on the old diet. I've had to give up carbs completely to keep from blowing up like a blimp. Someone told me that all there is no such thing as whole grains or wheat any longer because the grains we eat off the shelves is re-engineered to make bigger crops. These hybrid grains are non-digestible to the human animal, which explains why our native American Indians have become obese alchoholics and why America is getting fatter by the minute. Sugars are everywhere. Now, I’m reading a booked called “The Zone” and am working on getting into it. I mean, just about everything accept meat is a carb, including vegetables, so it’s about cutting out the bad carbs, which is basically all the tastiest parts of our diet, and applying simple science to what we eat.

Food is a drug.

This is something I can understand.

It feels good getting these things off my chest …

Have a great holiday, ok?


V-Grrrl said...

thanks for a peek into life on the left coast.

i love that you're going out for the big dinner. yay!

all the best to you and yours this Christmas.

Jane said...

Happy holidays, Faber family!

I hope '09 is especially wonderful for all of you.

p.s. Donna - If you're interested, I've followed an all organic, fresh foods program with Susan Powter and lost weight without cutting down portions.

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