The Christmas season is about the Christmas trees. Living in San Francisco means I can enjoy public trees and not have to engage in slaughter myself. Here they are, in the order I met them:
Tannenbaum of Pier 39
Tannenbaum of the Fairmont Hotel
Tannenbaum of Castro Street (unlit)
… and lit!
Tannenbaum of 555 California Street (Carly Rae Jepsen was at this tree lighting and she was super adorable, but my video of her performance was very low quality).
Tannenbaum of City Hall (outside)
Tannenbaum of City Hall (inside) – aka “The World Tree of Hope”
There may be a giant sugar castle at the Westin St. Francis. Maybe I should go visit that too. Which one of these is your favorite?
I’ve been attending tree lightings lately. They seem to be in season. Being in the San Francisco Girls Chorus when I was little made the Christmas season especially hustle-bustle and bright. I miss it. We performed a sing-along yearly at Davis Symphony Hall. We sang at tree lightings of posh hotels, where they would bribe us with intricately frosted sugar cookies. We even performed for the Elks club, and for a morning news show to air on Christmas day.
What does Christmas mean to me? Well, I’m an atheist, so to me, it means singing to dear, sweet Christmas trees. O Tannenbaum is one of my favorite Christmas songs. German club would sing it at the retirement home on Geary street. Some residents were moved to tears, saying that they hadn’t heard a Christmas song in their native German in decades.
It also means snow. I would wish for snow every year because I grew up seeing it in the movies and read about it in Molly’s (American Girl) series. I never saw a white Christmas in San Francisco, but there was one time, when the temperature was below freezing and I tried to jump in a puddle but slipped and hit my head on the concrete because it was completely frozen over. Of course, I love “Let It Snow”.
The true meaning of Christmas for this spoiled girl, though, is getting every damn thing I want. From tickets to the SF Symphony’s new year’s eve ball to plane tickets to exotic locales (omg, only kidding). But wanting just one thing, and having that thing actually be a person is sort of adorable. And it’s in my favorite Christmas movie too, so “All I Want for Christmas” is probably the best Christmas song of all time.
Confession time: my favorite Christmas cd when I was growing up was actually Christmas with the Vienna Boys Choir. Especially the Mozart mass. It didn’t sound like any of the other Christmas music but I figured it was probably just what the Europeans listened to…
I know it’s all the rage to complain about how Christmas decorations are going on sale earlier and earlier each year. And how everyone’s lost the “true meaning” of Christmas underneath all of the ads, presents, and hype for the latest gadgetry. I’ll spare you.
A few weeks ago, I walked into the cellar of Macy’s in Union Square and saw that there were Christmas decorations for sale. For reference, this was at the beginning of October. I know what I’m supposed to feel, intellectually. Derision. Superiority. But I didn’t. Those twinkling lights reminded me of every good feeling I’ve ever had during the Christmas season. Of sleeping under the tree when I was eight in hopes of catching Santa. Of singing at Davies hall with chorus. Of draping my mother’s long-suffering fern with fairy lights until it drooped. Of decorating a kitchen island full of sugar cookies, including many dinosaurs. Of snow. Of ice skating at the holiday rink. Of sitting right next to the Oak St. tree so every breath would smell like holidays.
This season, really show them. If you hate the commercialization, then use it to your advantage. Don’t buy a thing. Just let it remind you of all sparkling times you’ve had in previous holiday seasons. Instead of letting any of it trigger annoyance, let it bring a smile to your face. Then, if you actually need things, get them at secondhand shops, make them yourself, or buy them when they’re 90% off at the after-Christmas sales.