A last California Christmas

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Brody tries out his new motorcycle around the livingroom ... and around ... and around ...and around ....
Grandson Brody tries out his new motorcycle around the living room … and around … and around …and around ….

We didn’t make it easy for anyone this Christmas.

I mean, what do you buy for the people who are trying to get rid of everything?

The truth is, with our departure for Belize a little more than a month away, more than anything we just wanted time with our family and friends. That is the best gift in the world.

And we got it.

Rose’s kids, Caira and Jon and Jon’s partner, Quinn, came home for what felt like whirlwind visits and an early Christmas before departing for a UK holiday with their English family.

Jon and Quinn continue their Life Out of the Box mission. It has been thrilling and inspirational for us to observe.

We had Christmas Eve dinner at Original Joe’s in San Francisco with my son, Ryan. Two years in a row — the beginning of a tradition?

"The Rev" Cecil Williams lays it down with the chorus at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco on Christmas morning, Dec. 25, 2013.
“The Rev” Cecil Williams lays it down with the chorus at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco on Christmas morning, Dec. 25, 2013.

Rose and I started Christmas Day at Glide Memorial, the coolest church in the world. It is in the heart of the Tenderloin District, where it ministers to the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the outcast, the lost and rejected without judgment or distinctions. It’s services are full of sass, love and acceptance and the chorus, band and congregation color the rainbow. Yeah, Glide is a walk on the wild side of Christianity. There should be more like it in the world!

We hit the other end of the spectrum with a visit to soaring monumental Grace Cathedral, at the top of Nob Hill. Grace is as breathtakingly beautiful as Glide is grounded in the streets.

This past weekend we drove to Reno for a third Christmas, this time with all three sons (Brendan, Ryan and Chris), two daughters-in-law (Cami and Katie), grandson Brody and even my ex-wife and her husband (Cheryl and Roy) from Florida.

Hot off the barbecue, the pig formerly known as Sara Jessica Porker and Notorious P.I.G.  is ready for carving by (from left) Chris, Brendan and Ryan.
Hot off the barbecue, the pig formerly known as Sara Jessica Porker and Notorious P.I.G. is ready for carving by (from left) Chris, Brendan and Ryan.

Ryan brought in a full-dressed pig for an open-pit barbecue — possibly the start of another tradition. I think Ryan loves starting traditions. He also convinced everyone to take part in a gift exchange game. You know the one, where you draw numbers, pick a gift and you can “steal” a gift from someone else until everyone has had a chance.

I gave each of the boys a box filled with photos spanning their childhoods and folders with school essays, drawings, home-made Father’s Day cards, report cards and the odd detention slip. It was hard to let go of these things but what a trip down the memory lane I had putting them together.

Brendan and Cami gave us an "Ambergris Bar Crawl" for Christmas. Whew. Not even living there yet and already I see a hangover coming on!
Brendan and Cami gave us an “Ambergris Bar Crawl” for Christmas. Whew. Not even living there yet and already I see a hangover coming on!

Brendan and Cami solved the what-to-give-Bob-and-Rose riddle by assembling a bicycling bar crawl of San Pedro: “”2 miles, 2 bikes, 5 bars, 24 hours.”

They picked five bars  at random off the Internet and made posters for each, to which they attached $20 bills. Yikes! That’s $40 BZ for every bar — a lot of Belikin  beers for two people. This bar crawl is going to require the help of friends with a fast golf cart! I’m talking to you, John and Rose East!

Thanks to Rose’s sharp eye months ago we picked up a really cool electric-motorized motorcycle for Brody on Groupon — made in China and much assembly required. The front desk at the Siena Hotel-Casino in Reno must have thought I was a bit crazy when I asked for a Phillips-head screwdriver at 11 p.m. Yeah, and they couldn’t find one either.

The motorcycle plays really weird hyper-fast Chinese trance music on its “radio” — for which I need to apologize to my son. I think. I mean, I don’t want to be the cliche grandparent with the drum kit sort of guy ….

Well enough abut how handy a guy I am. (If you only knew …)

Happy New Year to you all and may 2014 bring you just exactly the right amount of adventure you need in your life.

More photos from the holiday:

Powell & Hyde trolley heads toward North Beach in San Francisco on Christmas evening.
Powell & Hyde trolley heads toward North Beach in San Francisco on Christmas evening.
View of the Trans-America Building down a side street off Powell on Christmas evening in San Francisco. It looks like the tallest Christmas tree in the world.
View of the Trans-America Building down a side street off Powell on Christmas evening in San Francisco. It looks like the tallest Christmas tree in the world.
Part of the sweeping view of San Francisco bay from our table at the Top of the Mark restaurant where we had brunch on Christmas Day.
Part of the sweeping view of San Francisco bay from our table at the Top of the Mark restaurant where we had brunch on Christmas Day.
What can I say? Christmas in San Francisco where even the Christmas Angel on Acid gets 15 minutes of fame in Union Square ...
What can I say? Christmas in San Francisco where even the Christmas Angel on Acid gets 15 minutes of fame in Union Square …
One new holiday contest --- making ugly sweater cookies. This is mine and it wasn't nearly the "ugliest." Sadly, I forgot to eat it before we left ....
One new holiday contest — making ugly sweater cookies. This is mine and it wasn’t nearly the “ugliest.” Sadly, I forgot to eat it before we left ….
Rose and I put the last pieces of Brody's new motorcycle together and Brendan and Cami's house. Toughest part was applying the 22 different decals to the bike -- most of which made absolutely no sense at all. But, hey, I know how to follow directions!
Rose and I put the last pieces of Brody’s new motorcycle together and Brendan and Cami’s house. Toughest part was applying the 22 different decals to the bike — most of which made absolutely no sense at all. But, hey, I know how to follow directions! Totally worth it to see the look on Brody’s face.
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2 thoughts on “A last California Christmas

    johnhenryeast said:
    December 31, 2013 at 10:47 am

    We are up for the task. A tough challenge but then again life is a challenge.
    Happy New Year to you both.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      December 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Bravo, John! I knew I could count on you! Happy New Year to you and Rose.

      Like

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