Pat Quinn, another West Coast transplant from Pennsylvania, decided he didn't want to be Santa Claus at the Telegraph Avenue Crafts Fair this year, so they hired just any old Wino - who vanished after the first day, taking the red trousers and the plastic Putees with him.
So Quinn wound up strolling the Avenue in his father's old Santa beard, the rest of the get-up, and a pair of mostly red tie died longjohns. A perfect Telegraph Christmas. During the weekends leading up to the Holiday, he and his unlikely helper - with a trenchcoat and a guitar case - ducked the raindrops and brought cheer to the Ave.
I wish I had a picture of us catching a shot and a beer at Kips, a sports bar just off the Avenue...Santa needed to get out of his scratchies, but needed to get away from where any little ones would see him, so we staked out a dark corner to refresh and Whiskefy.
A warped Norman Rockwell would have loved it...
But I left the Avenue to fend for itself on the 24th, and Jane and I drove up to my Uncle's house in the Sierras, and spent the Holiday with my Uncle, his 2 sons, and my Nonna - 94 years and still packs a Whallop.
A Lovelier little old lady I've never met - I'm biased, but I'll bet few have been as lucky. My Grandmother is tiny and fragile, but enjoys perfect health and is a fountain of good cheer and love that more than explains her knack for survival. Upright, mobile - she forgets where she is about every 10 minutes, but looking around, spotting a Grandson and a Christmas Tree, she figures the situation out over and over again. She keeps telling me how pretty my wife is.
My Uncle's boys are 9 and 11, and their gifts were mostly Daisy BB guns and a couple of Winchester sheath knives. An electric guitar (not MY idea) got about 10 minutes of play - I played carols on my National. The younger one is fascinated, but shy...which, I think, is a good sign.
We brought Slot Cars - a memory of a happy Christmas years ago that payed off. Jane was concerned that "kids today" played with Computer Games and wouldn't care for real little cars zipping around the track...she was wrong. The track was in constant play, with the kids, and the adults. A good toy is a good toy.
We got back late yesterday. Now I'm working on a cheesey poster for my upcoming local bar gigs - I'm off the street until March, let other Buskers get rained on. There was a Saxophone playing one of my regular spots today - damp and forlorn, pushing his way through "Yardbird's Suite", he fit the rainy canyon of Shattuck Avenue well as I walked by, trenchcoat cinched tight against the damp.
Cinched tight, holding my Grandmother's hugs close to my chest...