"Looking for Christmas"
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LOOKING FOR CHRISTMAS
9 December 2005
Since I had nothing better to do yesterday but finish cleaning the living room and plan Saturday's cousins' dinner, I decided to go to San Francisco with Walt for the day, proving yet again that I am the queen of procrastination.The day, of course, started off on a bad note with Latte chewing through the power cord and disconnecting me from the Internet. Walt was going off to his monthly "old timers'" breakfast prior to our trip to SF, so I asked him to stop at the train station and pick up tickets on his way home so that we could stop at the Internet office (which didn't open until 9), pick up a cord, and still make it to the train station for the 9:25 train. Amazingly, we managed to do that, after first locking Latte in the cage, where she would spend the day (Ashley's recommendation). I was tired of coming home to "surprises."
I love riding the Amtrak Capital Corridor to San Francisco. You can't actually take the train all the way to SF, but it drops you off in Emeryville, where you board a bus that takes you across the bridge and into downtown San Francisco. And the views of the city from the height of the bus are fabulous.
We got out at 4th and Market and I looked around for Christmas. It didn't seem to be there. Where were the bell-ringers? Where were the great Emporium store windows I looked forward to each year. For that matter, where was the Emporium, the center of my Christmases past. I trembled in front of Santa there. I rode the huge ferris wheel at the "roof rides" where when you got to the top, you weren't looking to the bottom of the wheel itself, but down to the street, about 5 floors below!But The Emporium has been sold and is being renovated. There were no garlands or wreaths on the lightposts. Christmas must be elsewhere. We stopped for lunch at Tad's Steak House, a greasy spoon if ever there was one, but a San Francisco tradition (I high recommend reading the link. It's great.), and then we walked up to the front part of Macy*s, which has its windows decorated to showcase SPCA dogs and cats. The volunteers there told me they had adopted out 9 dogs and I can't remember how many cats, but lots and lots of cats. The displays were cute, but the music was rock music, not what I would call Christmas music. Too much noise!
We went to Union Square to check out the big Christmas tree. I wonder if the lights are still supplied by Holzmuller, the theatrical lighting company that Jeri used to work for.
(There are those who would say that the lightpost in the foreground of the photo is distracting, and I can see where it might be, but I liked the juxtaposition of the two. So there.)
But instead of Christmas music, they were playing "Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes" by Perry Como, which was at least an improvement over the rock music we heard everywhere else, but where were the Christmas carols? Are we too politically correct, now, for Christmas carols in December?
I guess my problem is that I'm an old fashioned gal who likes a Christmas tree to look...like a Christmas tree and not like some sort of art project for a bunch of hoity-toity designers. I'm sorry, but girls in hula skirts, sea shells, and huge dice do not say "Christmas" to me and I am unlikely to fill my tree with huge hot chocolate pots!
The whole thing just hit me as more commercial than I've seen in the past--but then I haven't been to SF at Christmas in awhile. I hated it that there was a wall of Barbie dolls, for example, running a video about "designer Barbie" and all the (expensive) designer clothes she needed. Couldn't a little girl just have a doll?
We went to check the big tree at Nieman Marcus. Now, when I was a kid, The City of Paris stood on the site where Nieman Marcus now stands. And the City of Paris always had a floor to ceiling tree (the ceiling being five or six stories high) and it was decorated with thousands of cute ornaments. The fun was going to each level and seeing what you could discover on the tree at that level.
Well, Nieman Marcus has kept the tradition of the floor to ceiling tree, but it's now a designer tree and there is nothing cute and funky about it. (Columnist Herb Caen once described it as "ghoulish.") Oh, it's pretty and all, but it doesn't make you think of home and family and kids and gathering around the Christmas tree.
The problem with going to see the Nieman Marcus tree is that I am NOT Nieman Marcus' average customer and the trick was to get in, see the tree and get out before they sent the fashion police to escort me from the place for lowering their standards.
We stopped at Sharper Image and sat in massage chairs, which was quite an experience. But as I sat there I realized that I was looking at.......a machine to wind your self-winding watch! A deluxe leather machine to wind your watch, to be more precise. You put the watch in it and it shakes it around for you. I felt like Jay Leno asking, "have we become so lazy in this country that we move our arms so little during a day that we need a machine to wind our self-winding watches for us?" Cost? $149.95, but if you buy two the second only costs $119.96. I thought about how much food for a hungry person the cost of one of those watch-winding machines would buy.
That's when I knew that I was pretty fed up with the commercialism and that I would not find Christmas in San Francisco. We stopped at CompUSA and checked the iPods at the Apple store, but when we got to the San Francisco Center, I had hit the wall, so sat and had something to drink while Walt explored.
Then we hopped the bus
back to the train and were home in time to let Latte out before she exploded. It was
so nice not to find any Latte surprises on our return....and to find that the
cord Omsoft gave me works so I could finally get on line again.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Commercial? Christmas? Naaahhhh.