For this year’s holiday issue, I interviewed the two Ms. Ks about their holiday traditions and gift giving tips. They wished to remain anonymous.
NA: what did your family do to celebrate the holidays while you were growing up?
Ms. K #1: we had a big family and a tiny tree on a round table near the front door. A family of nine people piling presents under table on the floor. Heavily catholic. All the advent time getting excited. Went to church. My aunt lived a block away and we went to her house for christmas day. Grew up in Fruitvale.
Ms. K #2: we were all about traditions. Christmas eve with dad’s family. Always had the same foods. Meatballs were a must. Christmas day was with mom’s family. Put on christmas PJ’s. and then it really sucked when my parents got divorced and all the traditions died.
NA: Where did your family do their christmas shopping?
Ms. K #1: We’d go to downtown oakland. It was the place to be. There were beautiful department stores. The Sears building across from school used to be H. C. Capwells, which turned into the Emporium. The Rotunda building was a beautiful department store called the White House. My mom would come down here to christmas shop more than San Francisco. Montgomery Wards was this cheap department store like Sears or J.C. Penny’s, right near Fruitvale Bart. That’s where Santa was. I remember a picture of my oldest brother and sister sitting on Santa’s lap. I was the seventh kid so I don’t think I ever got to sit on Santa’s lap, he was so worn out by then! Newberry’s was a five and dime store. That’s where the kids shopped for gifts. Like a dollar store but nicer. They had a lunch counter. We’d shop and sit at the counter and have grilled cheese and root beer floats.
My dad would take the day off work to babysit us so my mom could go holiday shopping. We went to Snow Park to putt golf balls. We hit around golf balls for hours. Now it’s very different at Snow Park. There was a place called the Snow Museum that smelled like mothballs and was filled with taxidermy. Some crazy guy in Oakland who hunted animals and taxideried them. We’d go to a tiny library near the lake. My dentist and doctor were in the Latham building. It smelled the exact same and it all came back to me, how much i hated going to the doctor.
NA: What christmas/ winter displays do you remember growing up?
Ms. K #1: For the most part my dad baby sat us so my mom could be alone while she shopped.
We rarely went to San Francisco, but Union Square was all decked. We’d drive to Piedmont to see the massively decked out houses.
Ms. K #2: Every town had lights of some kind. It was my favorite time of year because everyone decorated their houses. My neighbor had a foot that was like 80 feet tall and he’d decorate it every year.
NA: What do you currently do to celebrate the holidays?
Ms. K #1: We leave town. When my grandparents died there was less tradition, and when my parents died, even less. Sometimes I go to my brother’s for christmas. I usually just like to get away from it all.
Ms. K #2: I still have a tree. But I can’t have lights and ornaments this year because of my kitten. I put up some felt ornaments. My kitten hoards the ornaments around the house. We have a pile of ornaments not on the tree because she steals them. I usually go to Missouri for extended family. I’m going to spend christmas with Mr. Taylor this year.
NA: Do you have any gift giving tips?
Ms. K #2: Homemade baked goods are good. Books are usually my go to. Sometimes I’m willing to not give someone a gift for a years until I find the perfect gift for them and then it makes up for it. I found crazy uncle steve Star Wars themed drinking glasses, he’s a huge Star Wars freak.
Ms. K #1: I like to make gifts if I can. Write a poem. Do a drawing. Make some cookies. Sew something. I love the idea of giving little plants. Eco friendly christmas! Books. Share a used book.