So TOMORROW, Sat., Dec. 3rd is big Holiday day down town, the Merchants’s Open House bringing treats to every shop, 11am-5pm, live music in Jungle Vibes and elsewhere (we’re featuring the sweet Jazz of Bob Johns and I’m SINGING with him, some great old jazz classics sung with Bob at Moose Open Mic and elsewhere. A bit spooky for me, but I’ll just remember I’m among friends! (And have sung these many times).

Can almost see downtown the romantic way, from the horse-drawn carriage I always ride in during the afternoon, this year sponsored by Lala’s Creamery and Jungle Vibes, the the Lighted Boat Parade makes its magical way up through the Turning Basin and back at 6pm. The whole day is topped off with Truman Capote’s poingnant and x-tra-emly nostalgic remembrance of Christmas of yor with his grandma, Christmas Memories read by Reader’s Theater in Pelican Gallery after the Boat Parade, 8:30p, but it’ll be hopeless getting tickets after 8pm, so go earlier.

Expect to get into the spirit through the whole series of events and a camera is required.

Always pet the horse team from Penngrove pulling a big old wagon from Helen Putnam Plaza and give them apples if the driver allows. Very peaceful. Remarkable how pretty downtown looks from up on a wagon with all the stores dressed for Christmas and beaming with lights.

So look forward to the happy buzz in Jungle Vibes and the other shops on this day with crowds of curious high-energy kids, hoping, hoping something remarkable will be found – and it always is if you spend the time to explore. The magic is still in Christmas for nearly all of these kids and some of their adults and they find reasons to believe everywhere they find symbols of the holidays.

For me, the season begins with baking endless cookies in the store, then wandering about town to find perfect gifts for family on the East Coast, San Francisco and in town. Try not to eat more than one cookie from any one batch, put them out with little candy canes and light the cinnamon candles – and then go back and finish putting price tags on oodles of toys that just finally came in – you gotta move it when the kids are actually starting to scout out what they’ll be asking Santa for.

This year seems a lot like last, but a bit heartier, thank goodness. People are looking for joy and so sick of feeling sick about the economy, they’re just gonna splurge a bit and have fun doing it.

In Jungle Vibes, you can always play with motion toys and if you’re little enough to play on the floor, there are toy mats with games and with cars and trucks that crash down chutes. Must say I enjoyed putting out the new Hello Kitty. So girly sweet. Will also check out Noelle’s One Planet and each and every store on Kentucky before the day ends.

Walking around the two main streets, which will forever be Petaluma Blvd. and Kentucky to me (I KNOW we have a Theater District, but it’s not the old town), I see very little empty space and lots of new enterprise. Our new Old Shanghai, fresh from Grant Street, San Francisco, keeps drawing me in. I love likely come to live in our den-to-be sometime next year when our new house is complete and we use a scree instead of a door to keep the first floor open plan.

Looking forward to getting together with family and friends over and over. Decorating trees, extra dinners out, one for Mentor Me, dreaming up a few handmade presents to tuck into boxes and huge Christmas stockings. Discovering little gifts in multiple stores for the under little trees our grown up friends still keep.

Drinking the rum and eggnog at least once, singing carols a few times. Still love caroling; recall going out with Noe Valley Ministry, candles cupped in hand, on 24th Street in San Francisco, how very sweet to watch smiles creep up on people’s faces. Here, I’ll check out Aqus for choral music Dec. 17th. A lady in my exercise class is singing.

Yup, the Holidaze in Petaluma are super busy and warm with good smells, great presents and good people everywhere. So looking forward to Light Up A Life (NOW!), Lighted Boat Parade, Christmas Memory and so much more. Magazine and book shopping at Copperfields, seeking yet another purse in Bonnie’s Zoe’s Kid Exchange, finding little stocking stuffers in many stores, loads in Jungle Vibes.

It’ll all work; Santa is on his sleigh for all the girls and boys – and for us? Warm friends and warm drinks all around.
Life sparkles when shared with true friends; presents shared near and far make the dark days sweeter as you pass the love around.