My San Francisco Christmas

Story by staff writer Judy Clement Wall. Photos Copyright © Judy Clement Wall.

DESPITE ALL THE Decembers I’ve lived through, the month always comes upon me suddenly. I know it comes right after November every single year, but I’m never ready for it. And while I love Christmas it has a tendency to barrel down upon me like a giant rolling ball of stress. Er, I mean snow.

Which is why I didn’t know what to expect when I headed into San Francisco two weeks before Christmas, armed with my camera and an assignment from Milli.

I knew that SF would be reveling in her brightest lights and happiest sounds, but I was feeling cold and kind of Grinchy. I thought it might be one of those irresistible-force-meets-cranky-immovable-object kind of outings.

Let’s see whether I was right. . . .

A California Christmas

Left: Cute little house in South Park decorated for Christmas
Right: Palm trees for Christmas. I love California!

San Francisco Fire Dept. Christmas decorations

SF Fire Dept. I didn't get to see Santa and his reindeer lit up
at night, but I thought this was adorable.

Street performers in San Francisco

Street performers are everywhere in San Francisco

A Dixie Land jazz band played Christmas songs.

A Dixie Land jazz band played Christmas songs. Everyone was caroling.

Union Square at Christmastime

Two weeks before Christmas and Union Square was packed with people.
(I love that the moon is the brightest light.)

Union Square store window Christmas displays

Union Square is famous for its store window Christmas displays

Silhouette of man and stroller at Christmastime in San Francsico

Just as I was taking this shot the man and stroller arrived,
which only made me love it more

Union Square ice rink

Every year they convert part of Union Square into an ice rink

Macy's Christmas balls

Ornaments hung from the ceiling at Macy's on Union Square
(Inset at left: Me and Chad reflected in a Macy's ornament)

Macy's storefront lit up for Christmas

Commercial, yes, but dazzling nonetheless

Macy's adoptable doggy

In Macy's windows, adoptable pets played and lounged on blankets. A woman accepted donations and handed out adoption information.

Harley Davidson Christmas convoy

Harley Davidson convoy glowing with "It's Christmastime" vibes

Left: The tree at Pier 39 Right: The tree at Union Square (tilted to get the star in)

Christmas guitarist

A man playing Spanish guitar at the base of the Pier 39 tree.
(Just outside the frame, people were dancing.)

As it turns out, San Francisco was just what I needed to tap into my jolly. . . .

Back home, I put Pandora on the Christmas channel, decorated the house, and started rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

My fireplace, all decked out for Christmas

My fireplace, after SF tapped into my jolly

Hope you all had a magnificent holiday!

Judy Clement Wall at Patrick's Point, Wedding Rock, Humboldt, California

j at Patrick's Point State Park, California


Judy Clement Wall (aka j) is a freelance writer who lives, works and plays in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s in love with the California coast; everything from combing the beaches of San Diego to hiking the coastal trails of Humboldt County. You can read and link to more of her work through her blog, Zebra Sounds.



  1. What a Jolly Good Post! How lovely that your time in San Francisco made you happy and in the mood for the upcoming holidays! As always – your pictures are terrific! Happy New Year!

  2. My mom lives in San Francisco, and even though I’m up there (I live in San Diego) all the time, I’ve only been to San Francisco once at Christmastime, and all I remember is shopping in the suburbs which is no different than staying home. Maybe next year when my inner Grinch takes over, I should grab the family and make the trip to tap into my inner Santa-ty(groan).

    Loved the pictures–they were all so unique. I didn’t know Macy’s had adoptable pets in their windows; what a great use of some prime real estate. I will be skipping that window next year, though, so thank you for the heads up. I know 3 girls who would torment me to add another pet to our ever expanding menagerie with promises of walking it, feeding it, brushing it, bathing it, etc. when we all know that mom ends up walking it, feeding it, bathing it…

    Happy New Year!

  3. j, your San Francisco Christmas looks absolutely wonderful!
    So glad you shared with us, now I wish I could visit SF (even more than before) 🙂

  4. j,
    Nothing like going to a big city filled with a lot of people in the Christmas spirit to help you along with yours!
    Looks like you had a Merry Christmas after all! Great article, and pictures too! Makes me want to visit San Francisco some day!

    Here’s to a New Year filled with more fun trips and happenings to write about!

  5. yup that is jolly :~)

  6. Love the photo essay! I’m glad to hear you weren’t bowled over by stress, but found a little cheer. Happy New Year, j!

  7. Brilliant photo’s j, the Harley convo was so awesome! Huge kudos to them for making such a brilliant Christmas effort, you gotta love bikers!

    Thanks for this lovely post j, and Happy New Year to you.

  8. Errich says:

    I think you really had a nice Christmas and for sure, you also enjoyed it…Good luck for your journey in 2012!!

  9. Jezziel says:

    Those are really great photos!!I hope I can have the same Christmas celebration this year…

  10. Amazing photos!!Looks like you had a happy celebration…Good luck for you!!

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