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Every year for as long as I can remember, since way back in my childhoodI always went to Union Square in San Francisco for "Black Friday".  My Grand parents, (both dead now) used to take me. It was our SPECIAL time together, and I looked forward to it for months.  I would call weeks ahead of time and wonder on the phone what Tiffani's might do, or Saks Fifth Avenue might have new mechanics.

Black Friday was about hearing the bells of the Salvation Army Volunteers collection donations at every corner around Union square, kneeling with my Gramps at the corner of Geary and to hear the Cable Car past, riding up the elevators at St. Francis Hotel, and having tea at Mark Hopkins surrounded by the Ginger Bread houses, it was about seeing the pets in the Macy's SPCA windows, about standing as close to Santa as possible to see if one could overhear the little one's Christmas wishes. And it was about service, about helping out ad serving lunch at Glide Memorial Church.

It was about windows shopping, about people watching, and about being with my Grandparents whom I loved dearly.  This Black Friday I was too sick to drive to SF Union Square to carry on the tradition, now having moved to the little northern California town of Chico, about 3 good hours north of SF.

So I did the next best thing, to keep the memory of my Grandparents and the tradition alive.  My first stop was St. John's church, (in SF it was always Grace Cathedral, where  Gramps and I would kneel at the alter and give thanks, in later years it was Nana and I kneeling at the AIDS Memorial Alter remember those that we had lost that year, we would name them and bless them one by one, and then go around the corner to the stained glass window of the Virgin Mary, and light a candle to the memory of each person we lost that year.  But Nana always started with Gramps, she lost him year after year I guess.  This year I started at St. John's church here in Chico, where I kneeled at the alter and named off the people that I had lost this year, and especially remembered my special and dear old friend Barbara who died about 6 weeks ago, then I  lit a candle for my Gramps, Raymond Roberts, and said a prayer to God, before wishing him a happy black Friday, and as many blessings as the good lord could spare!

Next, still on my knees at the alter, I lit a candle in memory of my Nana, Margret Roberts, and said a prayer to God, giving thanks for allowing her in my life, and telling him of all the joy she had brought me, and reminding him of some of my "happy thoughts and memories" of her, and asking him to bless her too, but I mean Alot dear Lord, I mean ALOT!"  For she was my special person, and this was "our" day. I asked God if he could do me a favor, and squeeze her hand and tell her how much I loved her, as she always did after we remembered those we had lost, Its been a couple of years now, but I still have a huge void in my life that she used to fill.  I won't lie, I teared up at this point, and I knew that my Nana was a special blessing in my life, and something that would never be able to be replaced, and though the pain of her death at 98 has lessened I still feel it!

Then I said another prayer for a friend that had recently died, Barbara Cole, who Saturday night, some 6 weeks after her death, Facebook had decided to let me know that she had accepted my Friendship request, and marked me as "Family".  Over that I had a good cry, (thanks FACEBOOK, now fix your software!) I wanted to offer up a prayer in her memory, and thank the Good Lord for bringing her into my life, and for the time we had together.   And I thanked the dear lord for finally bringing her home to end her suffering, she had a lot of medical issues, and towards the end was in horrible chronic pain. I thanked God too that he turn he gently as she kicked back in her recliner and watched TV.

From there I went down to the Old Town of Chico to check out the Christmas windows, just like my family did in our "hometown's" Union Square.

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I had already decided that next weekend when I was feeling better I would drive to SF and do my annual picture taking and visit the windows at Union Square, but this Black Friday I just couldn't sit at home, sick or not, I had to get out and see some "Christmas", and as I have done since I can remember, give thanks and spend the day with my Grandparents, Gramps and Nana.  Somehow it just felt right to be walking around a quaint old town like Chico, looking at Christmas windows.  It is slower, the people friendly, and the windows quainter than SF.

Well old town Chico is not SF's Union Square, but there is a certain charm, and it does have a sense of humor.

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A lot of the shops sit empty, some didn't even decorate their windows for Christmas,

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Some threw up some lights and called it a day,

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but some went all out and did some interesting things.

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There was no denying the God Lord's work was the most beautiful of all.  The weather was perfect, the trees shone in wonderful colors,

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I looked and looked, but the the only thing close to Macy's SPCA windows were these:

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Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Well next weekend I will do SF's Union Square, but Chico's Old Downtown was a nice fillin, when Location and Health were mitigating factors in carrying out the long standing tradition!

3:12 PM PT: WOW - what an honor to be posted to the Community Spotlight again! I am always amazed that people even read what i write, and more amazed that people like it.

Today I am going to Nursery to see about buying a LIVING, potted Christmas tree that I can plant in the back yard after the season has past.  I think it will be a new tradition, as I line the back fence with "Christmas Trees".  I have always felt it was a waste  to kill a tree to decorate one's home for a little over a month, then toss it to the curb unwanted and unloved after the season had past.  So I am going to "find me" a living tree and make this a new living tradition, as I start anew in my new Hometown.

Originally posted to l3m0n - A Veteran's Journey of Recovery on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Butte County kossacks of CA-01 and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hope you make it to Union Square next weekend... (10+ / 0-)

    How is the bread baking project going? This time of year might be a good time to get into cookies. I've got ginger snaps, chocolate drops and lebkuchen on my list.

    •  Did sugar cookies last night ... (14+ / 0-)

      Had the flu for a week, last thing in the world I wanted anything to do with was any sort of food, but last night I did manage to bake myself a wonderful batch of Sugar Cookies.  But I got up this morning, and they were GONE! Seems my roommate couldn't sleep and got up and gorged himself on them, didn't realize that they were his favorite, or I would have hidden them!

      The recipe came from a Pillbury "holiday baking" recipe book I picked up at a used book store for a dollar! YUMMY, well at least the 2 I ate were!

      I probably will write about it tomorrow. Made a killer Pumkin Pie from a sugar pumpkin from scratch for thanksgiving and shared it at a community gathering, crust was made in the bread machine, it was very tasty.

      So look for a bread tomorrow, now that I am feeling better, and Paul seems to be too.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:38:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like the windows with the puppies the best. (9+ / 0-)

    But then, I like anything with puppies. I even like republicans if they have puppies.  

    Non-profit single payer health care. Next question?

    by terran on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:54:30 PM PST

    •  I can hardly wait to see this years Macy's SPCA (8+ / 0-)

      Every year I love standing on the sidewalk in front of Macy's at the corner of O'farroll and Stockton, listening to the piped in Christmas Carols and watching the antics of the baby SPCA cats and dogs.  While the stuffed dogs is not Macy's Window, I did weep a little when I saw it, brought back a lot of happy memories, and was a just replacement.  I think downtown Chico windows will become MY new tradition, followed by SF Windows the next weekend in hommage to my "families" tradition!

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 01:39:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Two of my siblings went to Chico State (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, smileycreek, Powell

    so I have been to Chico a few times, although it has been years.  If you can stand the summer heat, it seems like a nice town in which to settle.

    As a teenager now, my son has lost interest in taking the ferry over from Larkspur to the Ferry Building, then across the street to the ice skating rink, and wandering around the street vendors.  

    Thanks for sharing your Black Friday memories and I hope you are feeling up to a visit to San Francisco soon :)

    •  Thank You! I will ... (6+ / 0-)

      I think it is important to honor one's past, for it is from where we came, and to honor one's family, for its is them we spend a lifetime recovering from ... LOL.

      Chico really is a wonderful and special place, and it is my new adopted hometown.  I moved up here and retired on a whim, and the suggestion of a friend, and I am SO happy I did.  I managed the summer just fine, though I was a little sticker shocked at the end of September when the PG&E bill was $598 form running the air conditioner, will manage that better next year, now I know!  Winters are COLD from what I understand, too.  Already this morning it was 37 degrees, and for this SF boy it might as well have been minus 27!

      I am in the habit of taking a morning walk at 5AM, but just could not brave the cold this morning.  At 9:30 though I went over to the Chico Mall, and found it to be open.  My Ped-o-Meter told me that one lap around the mall is EXACTLY 1.25 miles, so guess where I will be every morning this winter, just like in Sherman Texas, I will be at the Mall doing my morning walk.  4 times around the Mall should do it!

      Restrooms are clean, and there is an ORANGE JULIUS stand there, to treat myself to after my morning walk!  In Sherman, they opened the mall at 5AM in the winter for walkers and joggers, I wish that were the case here, but I can manage a change to 9:30.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 01:47:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Weatherization? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        smileycreek, Powell

        Sounds like you might need to weatherize your house!  You may be able to find a way to get some assistance with that.  There's a Federal program (Energy Assistance Program, EAP), where poor folks go to get help with energy bills.  These offices usually also offer help with weatherization -- some do an 'audit' to find the air-leaks.  Then they can help with costs/labor, depending on poverty/disability.

         And your electric Co. might also offer an audit & advice, but there might be a fee for that.

        Plastic on the windows, close of unused rooms if any, doorsweeps & insulation in the doorframes -- this can help a LOT  with both heating & cooling costs.

        •  GREAT ADVICE ... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, KenBee, smileycreek, Powell

          But looking at the website for Weatherization, http://www.csd.ca.gov/... I make too much money to qualify for public assistance, by all of $15, but I know how inflexable those guidelines are! I will contact PG&E tomorrow and find out about an their audit services.  I actually thought I was doing well, my neighbor told me his bill was over $700!  

          When I moved in I had someone out to change the filters and inspect the air conditioner, and heater. The Air Guy told me that the unit was JUST large enough for the house, and there was no extra capacity, so when I leave I should never turn it about 80 during the summer, or when I got hom it would just stay on all the time, unable to catch-up and cool the place down.  (I was in the habit of turning air and heaters off when I was not home.)

          Now that winter is here, I can tell you that the downstairs is very cold, and the thermostat is upstairs. In SF I have always had double pane windows, I never guessed how COLD single pane glass was, if I were to change anything, it would be the windows to start! Besides how you can here all the street noise too, with double pane glass windows youhear very little from outside, and they aren't "draft" like these.  Guess I could make "cheap" double pane windows and put plastic up on the inside for the winter, and save money for new windows come the spring.

          - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

          by l3m0n on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:47:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Try PG&E's CARE program (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee, smileycreek, Powell

            Howdy, neighbor! I live up the hill from you in Paradise. Moved here from the East Coast in 2006 and really like Chico too. It has a lot of character! Being from the cold, damp, snow-and-ice-filled Northeast as I am, it never seems like it gets cold here at all to me.

            My income got hit pretty badly for a few years during the recession, and I qualified for PG&E's CARE program, which gives you a fairly decent discount. Even though my income increased again this past year (and they call you every year to ask for your latest adjusted gross income from your tax form), I still managed to squeak in under their income limit.

            What helps me in the summer, though, is that I have trees on three sides of my house, and the sun doesn't come into the windows until late in the afternoon. So if I can stand the cool mornings (since it almost always gets cool at night in Paradise) and not open any windows, the AC doesn't kick on until around 4 p.m. I've never had such low power bills before; between the shade and the CARE program, and the fact that I cook on the grill all summer, my power bills were only $35 to $45 a month from spring through fall!

            •  Hello! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Powell

              There is a group of us Chico/Paradise locals who are planning on a small meet-up sometime soon.  kosmail me by sending  a private message if you'd like to be included... or you can check out the home base for organizing face-to-face meetups all over the country, every morning at 7:30 AM PST at the regular community diary series, * New Day *

              I also republish diaries about local politics and events at the Butte County Kossacks Group (where this diary was just republished) and I always appreciate a heads-up if I missed something!

              Valioso que hay en la vida el amor de los demás.
              ~~ on a slip of paper from a Puerto Vallarta fortune teller.

              by smileycreek on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:10:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  storm windows cheaper than replacing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            smileycreek, Powell

            often, there are curtains, miniblinds and other designs that seal that can help...online there is good info on repairs and leakproofing/weatherizing older windows.
              Storm window prices of $220+ are mentioned for my 72" high single hung historic windows....compared to 700-1500 for new double glazed.

            If you have an historic old older house, there are cranks/experts in Chico devoted to such repairs and upgrades, depending on what you have of course. Chico has some very old houses and values them.

            Replacing single and double hung windows can decrease historic house value, there may even be historic district overlays from the city

            This machine kills Fascists.

            by KenBee on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:59:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sticker shock to say the least... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, smileycreek, Powell

        Up here on the Ridge in Magalia the air conditioner was not used at all.  Used fans a few times and my electric bills were about $50 all summer long.  However, it's colder during the winter but the largest bill for my all electric house was about $250....Weather proofing should help lower your bills.  

        There is a program through PG&E for people with low income and they weatherize your home or apartment for free.

  •  always love seeing updates (4+ / 0-)

    from my college town

    “There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”-Freya Stark

    by in2mixin on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:47:06 PM PST

    •  I can't imagine going to school here ... (6+ / 0-)

      With all the activities, and everything ALWAYS happening, and the call of hikes in Bidwell Park, views, creeks, rivers, Lassen,Shasta, how did you EVER stay focused enough to attend class.  There is SO much to do here, that I am always picking and choosing the best, for instance tomorrow the is a Writing Club meeting, the Adventure's Club is having a "thing" there is a 5pm hike in Bidwell park, there is a club going to take pictures, and there is a walk along the Sacramento river, and that is JUST between 5 and 7pm.  More often than not I wish I could dice myself up and attend EVERYTHING, and hope that the Many World Theory is CORRECT and I don't really have to make a choice, because in a different reality or world I will do ALL of them!

      I wish that I had found this wonderful little town years ago, but am glad it is a well guarded secret in the Bay Area, though when I attended Berkeley we did come up for "Pioneer Days" a few years, now what a party that was 25 years ago.  I tell you, the Chico I remember as a youth only exists in my memories, but the Chico in which I now live is a gem of Northern California!

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 03:23:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did you know that Robin Hood was filmed in Bidwell (8+ / 0-)

    Park in 1938 (at least in part)? That's the Erroll Flynn/Olivia de Haviland/Claude Rains/Basil Rathbone color version, which is just plain immortal as far as I'm concerned. The oaks in Bidwell park are enormous, and did wonderfully as Sherwood Forest.

  •  mr.uintas and I lived in Paradise (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chantedor, smileycreek, Powell

    in 1976. We loved the area, but work was very hard come by. Virtually non-existent in fact. We ended up coming back here after a fruitless job search of 9 months and had a job on day one. Still....I really loved that part of the country.

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 04:31:13 PM PST

    •  Luckily it is not an issue for me ... (6+ / 0-)

      The draw of this area WAS the fact that the cost of living is so much lower here than in the Bay Area.  I rented a 3 bedroom 2 bath HOUSE ON 3/4TH AND ACRE for 1/3rd of what I was paying for a studio apartment in SF. Here in Chico, and even better in Paradise, I can live VERY comfortably on my VA pension without renting out my 2 extra bedrooms.  If I were to rent them, I could lower my rent to like a $100 a month, and be VERY picky to whom I rented, (I.e. renting a little lower than market to get a broader selection of good people too choose from.)

      I have been up to Paradise a few times, and am going up there tomorrow to look at LIVING Christmas Trees at the Mueller Tree Farm.  I love Paradise, and it never stops amazing me that you can be out of downtown and into PINE FOREST 15 minutes out of Chico!

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:55:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Indiana State Museum has preserved some of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chantedor, smileycreek, Powell

    the beautiful mechanized Christmas Windows which formerly were displayed at the old L.S. Ayers  and the Blocks Department stores in the center city. This was before most of the Christmas shopping moved to the suburban Malls.  The Train that children could ride into Santaland in the Block's Department store is still operational and children can ride through the Indiana State Museum Christmas displays in December.  All year long the Dining Room that is preserved from the Downtown Store of L.S. Ayers serves lunch, with many familiar 1940s dishes.  The Chicken Pot Pies, until very recently, were served in the antique chicken dishes.  The historic sandwich is the Monte Carlo and the historic soup is the Chicken Velvet soup, still prepared by the 1950s recipes  

  •  Republished to Butte County kossacks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Powell

    Kosmail me if you would ever like to be included in a local kossacks gathering.....we have 4 of us in Paradise who are planning on meeting up soon.  Would love to meet you...what a gorgeous and loving photoessay!

    Valioso que hay en la vida el amor de los demás.
    ~~ on a slip of paper from a Puerto Vallarta fortune teller.

    by smileycreek on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:50:51 PM PST

  •  Do you remember the City of Paris? (0+ / 0-)

    The huge Christmas tree in the center rotunda made a big impression on me when I was taken there as a child, by my great-grandmother. She made me wear GLOVES, because that's how ladies used to dress to go into the City. (I lived in SoCal, and had to be instructed in these things.)

    Other Union Square Musts: buying a nosegay of cool, fresh violets from a corner flower vendor; hot fudge sundaes at Blum's.

    City of Paris is now Needless Markup, I believe.

    Things change.  :)

    Thanks for your diary, and reminding me of the City at Christmas.

    •  Yes I remember well the City of Paris (0+ / 0-)

      Needless Markup did save the rotundram and moved it to the corner of Stocton and Geary.  They still have a huge tree in it, but with all things now days it is artificial.

      - Jeff US Army/Retired ... With a long enough lever one person can move the World! DoSomething-Anything.Info

      by l3m0n on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:41:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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