Deck the Halls

Holiday Traditions I Could Really Do Without: Pointlessly self-fulfilling media stories about the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping rush; the president pardoning a turkey, especially when the president is one who mimicked a death-row inmate pleading for her life; the third- and fourth-rate football announcers pulled out of God knows what woodwork to cover all the bowl games, and whose forced chortling and inane jargon-riddled spiels (“And Calhoun rushes for plus yardage!”) are literally indistinguishable from The Simpsons’ send-ups of sports broadcasters; the inevitable story about a family gathering gone homicidally bad; all the goddam rushing around people do; worrying what Christmas will be like with neither family nor old friends close by.

Holiday Tradition Keepers: Dinner at Chris and Aurora’s and the chance to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a year; Jon Carroll’s annual Thanksgiving Day column; the Christmas lights on the Embarcadero Buildings, especially as seen from the Bay Bridge; watching It’s a Gift on New Year’s Eve; the hush and expanse of deserted streets on Christmas morning, followed by the slow emergence of little kids trying out their new bikes in wobbly amateur fashion; pondering the hassles and mayhem of all the cross-country travelers from the serenity of my couch; the stray spontaneous get-together with old friends for a holiday toddy; seeing people give generously to the homeless, with both parties coming away feeling better about themselves; the warm blanket of camaraderie that hangs itself over The Expansion about this time of year; sleeping through the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the umpteenth year in a row; uninvited meditations about John Lennon thanks to “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” and because it’s that time of year; the first cigarette after Thanksgiving dinner, a/k/a The Best Cigarette of the Year; worrying what Christmas will be like with neither family nor old friends close by, and somehow getting by just fine each year.

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