Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Today Middle-Age Cranky takes a hiatus from being cranky and turns to the subject of celebrating, fun, merriment, and other holiday-related activities. Too soon for the holidays, you say? Au contraire -- not in my territory.

I know that most of the rest of the country thinks people in the San Francisco Bay Area are crazy. We're the land of fruits and nuts. If you tip the U.S. on its side, everything loose will roll to the coast. One of my favorite comments came when Glenn Close and Mandy Patinkin made a movie here called Maxie back in the 1980s: “Only in San Francisco would the female lead of a movie be named Glenn and the male lead be named Mandy.”

Personally, I attribute it to jealousy.

The bottom line is, we know how to have fun here, more fun than the rest of the country. Take the concept of the holidays. In the rest of the country, the holidays tend to start around Thanksgiving (though Hallmark keeps trying to push it earlier). I have long harbored a theory that the holiday season in San Francisco actually starts with Halloween and continues through Valentine's Day.

I cite the Halloween kickoff for a couple of reasons. First, the holidays always involve sweets, whether through baking or candy, and Halloween is ground zero for candy. I also tip my hat to those wild and crazy guys in the Castro District. They know how to party-hearty when it comes to costumes, bless them.

Then come the traditional holidays we share with everyone else: Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, New Years. Thanks to a vibrant African-American community, throw Kwanzaa in there too.

Come January 2nd, you might think the party’s over. Not here. Unlike most areas, we have two football teams to choose from. Though they've lapsed considerably in the last few years, between 1970 and 2002 (with the exception of three seasons), either the San Francisco 49ers or the Oakland Raiders competed in the NFL playoffs. That meant every weekend in January was a celebration worthy of tailgating or football-watching parties. (We still do this, but the efforts are little more half-hearted.)

February, of course, signals the beginning of the Chinese New Year. For many years, San Francisco had the largest concentration of people of Chinese descent in the U.S. (though it has recently been superseded by New York City). Hence, that was always a big deal.

Finally, given its official song ("I Left My Heart in San Francisco") and its unofficial motto ("the cool grey city of love"), the holidays really don’t wrap up around here until Valentine's Day.

That's three-and-a-half solid months of celebrations and merry-making. Call us crazy if you must, but don't call us too early because we’ve been out the night before having fun.


  1. That must be why we feel so at home down here in Mexico. It is a constant holiday from early September through early March!

  2. Your recollection of the playoff exploits of the Raiders and 49ers brings back what has to be one of the blackest days in Bay Area NFL playoff history. I remember that my father had tickets to the 49ers-Dallas Divisional playoff game on 23 dec 1972. With both the Raiders and the 49ers in the playoffs, I figured we had a pretty good chance to get at least one team in the Super Bowl. We went up to Candlestick Park a little early to beat the crowd and watched the Raiders game vs Pittsburgh on our portable TV that we plugged into the car's cigarette light. Everything was going well for the Raiders whent they took a 7-6 lead in the 4th quarter. Fourth and 10 for the Steelers late in the 4th quarter; the desperation pass is head-butted by Jack Tatum well away from the intended receiver; cheers go up across the parking lot at Candlestick. But wait! The Steelers' Franco Harris grabs the ball on the rebound and dashes passed the celebrating Raiders into the end zone and NFL History! (Perhaps the most notorious play in football, with the possible exception of the Stanford Band running interference for Cal during the Big Game!). Instant stunned silence in the parking lot! Lots of head shaking and hand wringing.

    But at least we had another team still in the playoffs. And everything looked great for three quarters in the 49ers-Cowboys game (49ers ahead 28-13), until the Cowboys scored 14 points in the last 2 minutes to win the game 30-28!

    What a bitter pill to swallow! Two ignominious defeats in the same day! Thank goodness for the immaculate reception, because at least people don't remember the meltdown by my cherished 49ers later in the day!