Kathy Streib, in her December challenge, has asked us to share a special holiday memory, and the posts are pouring in. I've read a few of them and am blown away by how heartfelt the memories are. Next week I'll be reading more of them.
I have lots of memories of Christmas, both past and present:
- the year we almost didn't have a tree (happy ending: we rushed to a tree lot on Christmas Eve, to find it had just closed up; the owner let us children pick any tree we wanted--and it was big and beautiful!);
- the year I opened all my gifts the day before, then re-wrapped them the best I could and pretended to be surprised (moral of the story: I learned that waiting for the right time was its own reward)
- the year my little daughter bit into a glass ornament (happy ending-no problems!)
- the 22-year+ tradition my husband and I have of taking time out of the busy Christmas day to take a hike, just the two of us, to our special place (Edgewood County Park when living in San Carlos; across Pacific Heights and the Presidio now in San Francisco)
But today I'm thinking most about the wonderful experiences we had as children, when every Christmas season our mother would take us to San Francisco. In those days, we rarely visited The City, not far from our suburban town, so these holiday trips were memorable. Some years we drove, and would end our visits by driving along the Marina, eyeing the Christmas lights on the boats and on the fine houses in the area. Other years we would take the Key System train from Oakland, across the Bay Bridge (this is back in the day before there was BART, our present regional transit system)
Each year, after enjoying the magical windows in the department stores around Union Square, and the huge tree decorated with life-size toys in the City of Paris, we would go out to dinner, a rare treat in the 1950s! There was Bernstein's Fish Grotto one year, an Armenian restaurant another time (rose petal jam!), an early-California cuisine place another, and of course Chinatown!
But the main attraction, and mandatory first stop each year, was --- The Emporium. This large department store, on Market Street near the Powell Street cable car terminus, had carnival rides on the roof! And you could visit Santa there, as I did here, at age 3.
And so began my love affair with San Francisco. I guess it's no surprise that six years ago I moved back here, is it?