A stark reality hit me the other night as I was speaking with my mother over the phone. This will be the first Thanksgiving I will spend without my family, specifically my parents. While that should not be a big deal to a man my age, as there are so many people I know both my age as well as significantly younger, that don’t spend the holidays with their family for one reason or another, it was a realization that sank my heart a little.
I love the “Silly Season”. I love Christmas. I love Thanksgiving. From Halloween to New Years Day, I love everyone and everything about those days.
Halloween brings back fantastic memories. At or near the top was the year when I decided go out by myself three nights before Halloween to visit my friend Elizabeth bartending at my favourite place in Bucktown, The Northside Bar & Grill on Damen Avenue (mainly cos she was the bartender there, but also because the place has great ambience) dressed up as Uma Thurman in her yellow jumpsuit homage to Bruce Lee, my only addition to the ensemble an Afro the envy of all, dancing to the Kill Bill soundtrack (the movie Lizzy and I had seen earlier in the day), while getting ready, with my dog an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Foster and my brother’s dog, an Akita named Kalib, reluctantly watching. Strutting north on Damen Ave, an empty bus off service, stopped in front of me, laughing and compelled to pick me up, the large woman driving asked,
“Are you lost, young man?!?!! Get in before someone beats you up!”
“Not at all! I got places to be! …hmmm, I hadn’t thought about that…”
“You do know it’s Wednesday night, right? Halloween is this weekend.”
“Wednesday nights are my favourite nights to dress up! I’m going to The Northside. It’s Halloween?”
“Really? You like walkin’ up the street all Tony Romano-style? That’s some get up!”
“I love Saturday Night Fever!”
“Who are you?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m Uma Thurman!”
And then I danced the dance that I danced in front of my dogs. The bus driver was even less enthused than my dogs. Soon after walking off the bus, a smile beaming ear-to-ear, I opened the doors into The Northside, when the music literally stopped as I walked in. “Who the $^%!# are you?!?!?” I heard Lizzy yell from the other end of the bar. “I’m Uma Thurman!” Soon I was having drinks with our friend JennyLee, both of us being served by our favourite bartender and our favourite friend.
That was a lifetime ago. A great night with great memories, ah but I digress…
Memories of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are countless. I love going to church at this time of year. I love the music, both old and new, both British and American. I love the movies (Elf, Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, The Bishop’s Wife, A Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Diehard, to name but a few). I love the snow when it arrives, both the look and the sound of it, especially Christmas morning. I love football (though I wasn’t too happy when Harbaugh beat Harbaugh as the Ravens beat my NINERS handily, a precursor to the Super Bowl earlier this year). I love the food. I love the smell. I only wish everyone acted each day of the year with the spirit of giving and the spirit of the holidays that people do during the holidays. We can be thankful that at least there is a certain time of year that people do feel compelled to (quote my friend Chris) “do good.” And in some cases (to continue that quote), “be great.”
More than anything, those days remind me of my family and my friends, and how amazing they are and how much I love spending time with them. I’m a smiler and I’m a laugher. I smile and laugh significantly more when I am with them, both leading contributors to my youthful exuberance.
I already know I will miss December in Chicago, the only time and place in the world (in my mind) comparable being December in New York City. Today in Sausalito gave me promise that, while it will not replace the holidays in Chicago or time with family in Indiana, the holiday spirit will be kept alive and kicking here in this quaint little town north of the Golden Gate – a charming mix reminiscent of towns in Rockwell‘s America as well as of towns dotting the Mediterranean.
I spent a great day with my friend Shelley at the town center in Sausalito, our original purpose lunch at Napa Valley Burger (and later rewarding ourselves with a nice cream cone at Lapperts Ice Cream). Walking along the sidewalks teeming with visiting Europeans and windows giving us a glimpse into inns, restaurants, and shops, we literally walked into Christmas by the bay, as fully adorned trees greeted the windows of The Holiday Shoppe. Beckoning us inside, we were welcomed with “Jingle Bells” then “Claire de Lune” (which is not a holiday tune, but is beautiful nonetheless) before the music faded into the background as trees, statues, sno-globes, ornaments, etc took front and center. “I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. Christmas is all around me and so the feeling grows.” Shelley bought some ornaments. I would come back later in the day before the NINERS game to buy a Santa Claus statue and a sno-globe. Though expensive, they were worth it. I still have my eye on the little gramophone that plays tiny records of holiday classics the way they were sung in the 1940s.
Today was a good day. A good day with my friend. A good day because, admittedly even though it won’t be the same, I knew Christmas would still come to Sausalito.
PostScript: Icing on the cake, the schizophrenic NINERS beat down the Texans tonight.
I think I’ll watch Love Actually now…