Saturday, December 10, 2016

SantaCon 2016



I got over Christmas at age 17 while working as a clerk in the General Store of Death Valley's Furnace Creek Ranch. It wasn't the dusty tinsel draped over palm trees outside or the dying people being taken out feet-first from their RVs on a weekly basis from the neighboring trailer park that helped me turn that sentimental corner. It was thanks to the company party put on by the Fred Harvey Company which owned the Death Valley National Park concession as well as Grand Canyon back in the early 1970s.



We had an old, beautiful little wooden community meeting room at Furnace Creek Ranch, with a proscenium stage and there was an annual employee Christmas talent show which wasn't half bad. It was the end of the evening where I finally got over Christmas. The Fred Harvey company offered its employees a Christmas gift choice between a moldy box of Valentine's Candy that had not been sold earlier in the year at one of the national park gift shops or a carton of cigarettes. I chose a carton of Marlboro Reds and thought, "You can be extremely depressed about this moment, or you can just get over all this Christmas nonsense altogether." I decided on the latter strategy and it was one of the wiser choices of my youth.



Today was SantaCon in San Francisco and elsewhere, where mostly young people put on silly holiday costumes and engage in communal pub crawls. It's one of my favorite unofficial holidays of the year even though I don't participate because I'm too old. It's delightful seeing so many people doing something other than being capitalist consumers buying the latest crap. Instead, they are eating, drinking, walking, talking, laughing, and possibly having sex with each other.



We went to the Bell Tower on upper Polk for lunch today, and it was uncharacteristically empty, possibly because the continuously rainy morning was putting a damper on the festivities.



As we ate lunch, the Santas did start filing in, and the fact that the weather had made the usual mobs smaller and more manageable started feeling like a Christmas Miracle.

5 comments:

Hattie said...

Happy holidays, I guess!

Hattie said...

Oh, I'm forgetting the greatest joy of Christmas: making fun of kids and dashing their hopes. But only parents get to do that.

Matthew Hubbard said...

I've heard SantaCons quite often end up like most baccanalias, fun at first, then...

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Matt: Yeah, I try to avoid the vomiting in the street phase when the young'uns get sloppy.

sfwillie said...

"Blue Christmas," is a beautifully crafted song. That's something.

Polk Street and Death Valley... both are prominent locales in Frank Norris' "McTeague"(von Stroheim's "Greed".) Good thing your journey was in the opposite direction. "McTeague" ends with the poor guy alone in Death Valley, handcuffed to a corpse.

For some of us, Christmas is a corpse we somehow got handcuffed to.

I wanna hear your DV story: how you got there, how you fit in with the Harvey-girl ethos, how you got out.