Memories of Christmas 2006



Tuesday December 2006


It’s pouring rain, and I take the bus and trudge the 8 blocks to the Salvation Army through Chinatown in Oakland. Not a garland nor a greeting sign, just an over abundance of Peking ducks hanging in the window due to the pouring rain and no customers.The Salvation Army has Seasons Greetings in the window and some Christmas dolls in the window, that’s it. Walking back to the subway through downtown Oakland, I see no trees, no lights– just a lone red ribbon on a coffee shop door. Not even the Marriott Hotel has lights.


Downtown Berkeley fares no better, just PEACE AND JOY banners on the light poles. St Mary’s Church on San Pablo has over 100 crosses out on their front lawn now.I try and count them as I wait for the light. Each one represents someone who died a violent death in Oakland this year.These people were not killed by terrorists nor cowboys from Nevada.They were killed over drugs and killed by brothers and sisters neighbours and old friends.


Wednesday December 2006


It’s off to San Francisco today and I trudge up the street to the Post Office first and by block 2 I am running up the street with my cart as I have a loose pit bull running after me. Not a good way to start the day. I arrive in the city to find only a few silver garlands in the window of Goodwill and Thrift Town. It’s still raining and raining hard. People offer me towels at the stores as I look so wet. I go to the Goodwill on Mission Street and Alan the manager tells me he has to box up all his Christmas trees to sell as he cant display them due to customer complaints. He then tells me the employee Christmas party is tomorrow night and they had to take the tree down there too as someone complained and it’s now called the Holiday Party.


Thursday December 2006


It’s back to the city today still pouring and I am still wearing the rubber coated quilted snow jacket from back home.If the bus is packed I’m screwed as they say but fortunately enough its 1/2 empty.I get off at Castro and 18th and haul the cart and the bag off the bus and it’s really coming down now.



BUT– I begin to smile. The whole of Castro Street has Christmas trees and almost every other decoration everywhere. Windows are beautiful and even the Pottery Barn has a tree in the window but the darn HOLIDAY GREETINGS of course is in the window. It’s so beautiful and cookie shops have their doors open and it smells so good. I walk slowly and savour each window. I glance over my shoulder and look at Twin Peaks which is covered in fog but I can see sparkling lights all the way up the street and it seems to reflect in people’s smiles as they pass me by.


I get to the record store and find out it doesn’t open up for another 15 minutes so I try to stand in a doorway to stay out of the rain. My hair is soaking, I look like heck and I have a cart..HMMMMM..This guy goes by me and hands me a dollar and tells me to stay dry.

He thinks I’m homeless..GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!


I have decided to climb Hyde Street/Knob Hill today. It takes me about 25 minutes to go to the top and it’s packed with homeless people up and down the street. I get to the top and go to the Cathedral Thrift shop. By this time I am sweating like there is no tomorrow and my hair is soaking wet. I just look like hell and I swear I stink.The lady looks at me as I purchase two videos and tells me she will only charge me a buck each and pats my hand. God damnit..she thinks I’m homeless too.


I now have to walk down all those 8 blocks and make sure I don’t fall down they are so steep as I trudge back to the subway. So far I have only seen one tiny lone tree in a massage parlour window. When I hit Geary Street I hear gunshots. By the time I get down to Turk Street the police have yellowed taped the whole street and the little park off .The African America man who wished me “Merry Christmas Red” when I went by him on the way up now lies dead in the middle of the street.




I was born of a Jewish mother and a British father. When I was young everyone celebrated the holidays and no one felt slighted. Menorahs, Christmas trees you name it were everywhere and no one was shouting for them to be brought down. No one yelled at Chinese New Year or told the Ukrainians to put their perogies away. Everyone got along and it was wonderful.


So what happened? Did I miss something? Where has the love gone? It’s not the icon of the Christmas tree nor the decorations that I seek, it’s the love, the warmth ,the fellowship.I sauntered towards the subway and handed the dollar I got from the man today to a very wet homeless guy and said god bless you.He smiled and said,


“Merry Christmas Mam”

“By the way, if you have time, we are all going to be sitting in front of Carl’s Jr tonight”


God damn..he thinks Im homeless too 🙂









The Story Behind the Christmas Lights on Stonewood Drive

In Memory of The Man Who Loved Christmas

The Secret Santa of Carleton Place– Peter Porteous

Linda and Christmas Cards– and the Lack off–This is Your Christmas Letter:) 2016


Linda and the Lack of a Christmas Card–This is Your Christmas Letter 2017

I Never Met a Fruitcake I Liked

Horses with No Names- The People’s Father Christmas

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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