Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Glittering Christmas in San Francisco

This is quite possibly one of the worst Christmas songs EVER. And it doesn't even mention the best parts of Christmas in this fine city.

Today was the day my mother and I go to our traditional Christmas tea at the Palace Hotel's Garden Court.

Before we did that though, we did some shopping. First we walked by Macy's fantastic holiday windows. For those of you not from here, every holiday time Macy's puts adorable scenes in the windows in which they then install real live puppies and kittens up for adoption by the SPCA. It is the greatest, most fantastic, adorable, awww inducing window display EVER. I am seriously trying to convince my mother we need the mutt puppy we saw as a best friend for our dog. Fun fact: before 1987, when Macy's started doing this in their windows, it used to be done in Gump's windows, before it moved from the original Maiden Lane location over to Post St. I remember my grandfather taking me to the cavernous store at it's original location when I was little, where they sold things like giant wooden bird cages that you couldn't possibly imagine ever putting an actual live bird in. Gump's is for the rich person in your life who has everything they could possibly ever want.

Anyway, this year Macy's is tying in it's Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus mocie, so they have the narration of that playing from the outdoor speakers. (I encourage you, folks of all ages, to drop a letter in the Santa boxes at Macy's. I'm doing so Friday. Because for every letter Macy's receives, up to a million, they donate a dollar to Make-A-Wish. And really, are you ever too old to ask Santa for something? No.)

A digression on female hormones: I do not consider myself the most effusive person in the world. I do snark well. Sarcasm. Sharp wit. I don't do weeping, fuzzy, ridiculous emotions. And yet...I can NOT hear the editor's response to Virginia without wanting to cry like a big baby. Seriously. I want all of you men to feel this schizophrenic for a week. This time it has been bad. Because of, I'm guessing, traveling from one side of the U.S. to the other, combined with the general holiday overwhelmingness. I cried at a not all that terrific episode of Glee when the kids started singing the song the people of Who-ville sing on Christmas morning. Seriously, body, wtf? These are the same emotions that led me to think, "But really. I want to fall in looovvveee", something that 95% of the time I don't think. I got over those when I stood in a hot shower this morning, soothing my pained back, letting it all melt away, and remembered all the truly idiotic things my ex used to do that would drive me insane, that I don't have to deal with any of that anymore, and that I am independent by nature. Stupid stupid hormones. Though I wonder how much of it is hormones and how much of it is holiday sentimentality. When I pick myself up off the floor, I'll let you know...

Back on to my holiday day with my mom: After Macy's we went to Hermes to pick up a tie for my stepfather. I am constantly waiting to be thrown out of these stores when in them. I was dressed nicely (grey wool slacks with silver pinstripes, ice blue cashmere sweater, my best accessories), but still...I'm not that man with the Brooks Brother's bag nosing my way in saying, "Can I get some help?!" and then immediately dropping $500 on a tie and another $500 on a scarf for his "wife" (this man was not straight) like it's nothing. I wanted to gasp, but didn't, when I was informed this bracelet was $460. Seriously? For a thin strip of painted enamel? And yet the bigger cuff is a mere $200 more! A bargain! (I want.) We picked up the tie and made a hasty departure. I did like carrying around the orange Hermes bag all day. And I wondered if Georgina Bloomberg uses the Hermes saddles in her riding competitions.

After our stop at Hermes, we went over to Shreve. Shreve had a brand new boutique up front consisting of Wellendorff. It is apparently the only Wellendorff boutique in North America. I had never seen the stuff before but immediately liked it's rotating designs. The adorable German girl there running the boutique was happy to let us try on her wares. I found a ring I loved whose design name was blueberry. That can be all mine for a mere $17,500. Sigh. Someday.

From Shreve we headed down the street to Mozaffarian. My grandfather, then my mom and aunt, have been friends with the Mozaffarians for years. Legend has it that my grandfather, who instead of buying sandals would simply cut the toes off of his black dress shoes, and wore short sleeved shirts with, I kid you not, a pocket protector, was mistaken for a homeless man by Mr. Mozaffarian, before producing the large wad of cash that he kept bound in his pocket with a rubber band because he hated wallets. But that mistake, somehow, led to a friendship. And many purchases for my grandmother. This store is the official purveyors of Faberge in San Francisco. The owners are fantastically nice people with fantastically wonderful jewelry. And again, they love us trying stuff on. I'm always the designated try-er on because I have tiny fingers and wrists. My favorite was some filigreed black and white diamond earrings. Mr. Mozaffarian had these stunning diamond capped pearls that were not unlike a pair my grandmother owned. He said he had sold three pairs of them. If his kids were still in college, I'd say that would put them through it. To his still single son I say, Hi, how YOU doing? (No, not really. I'm not even sure I've ever met him.) He also had these three inch long dazzling emerald and diamond earrings. I'm not giving up too much to say that my mom ordered a pair of modest earrings to be received after Christmas, so as not to break the "no buying yourself stuff before Christmas" rule. Mr. Mozaffarian later regaled us with a story of stopping at the pastry shop every day after school to get an eclair, while growing up in Tehran. It felt like Proust recalling the madeleine. My mom's going to drop him some off as a holiday present next time she pops in.

Following that we wandered to the aforementioned Gumps and checked out their jewelry as well, where (princess alert) my mom mentioned a pair of earrings I had totally forgotten I owned from there because they are kept in the jewelry bag I received them in so as not to wreck them. I wondered if I lost them (god help me) but came home and found them safe.

My mom later said, "Even if you can't afford it, trying on jewelry always makes you smile!" As the woman is less effusive than me, that's saying something. There you have it, kids, it's the grown up female version of a candy store. I probably tried on in excess of a two hundred thousand dollars in jewelry over the course of the afternoon. That'd pay off some student loans...

At dinner tonight all this jewelry browsing led to the following conversation:
Stepdad (in comment to something in a magazine): You could get it from Jared!
Me: I hate those commercials. Whenever I see them I think, "I am not ever dating someone who shops at those stupid places!" Kay, Jared...all those types of places.
Mom: Where should they shop?
Me: You know, at our jewelers.
Mom: I can see it now. 'We've been dating long enough. I have some important people I'd like you to meet.' And take him to our places.
Me: Exactly!

I'm a snob. What the fuck ever.

Oh, but my mother is snobbier. I got my nails done before I went to Florida. Naturally, they have chipped and faded but I haven't taken the polish off yet. Mom says at dinner, horrified, "I can't believe you tried on jewelry with your nails looking like that!" The funniest part of this is that I knew at some point she would say this. She can't STAND it when I have chipped polish. (Sometimes I leave it chipped on purpose. Mother/daughter relationships are a special special thing. This time that wasn't the case.)

Following our whirl wind of trying on too expensive to ever actually own jewelry, we finally headed to our tea. And it was delightful. The room at the palace is truly exquisite, with a giant centerpiece tree, and it's fun to see a bunch of women partaking, all dressed in fancy holiday outfits. They employ a harpist to play Christmas songs. It's all just...lovely. There is something spectacular about warm scones with clotted cream and lemon curd. Thanks, former colonial overlords for your traditions!

A quick spin through Nordstroms, my mom's feet aching because she wore heels instead of flats, and we were home again. All in all, a fantastic afternoon. I will be back downtown with my cousins on Friday for a Christmas lunch and more shopping. Ah, America! Capitalism! Ain't it grand?

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