Something I haven't told that many people: I have a really hard time feeling the Christmas spirit like I used to.
It's been like that a few years, actually: the last time I really felt the buy-me-the-biggest-goose-in-all-of-London! feeling was the morning I took the bike ride I took to different toy stores on December 14, 2012.
And on the way back I found out about the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary.
One of the twenty pictures I posted a few days later - one for each of the child victims - this one summed up the feeling of Christmas in Connecticut at the time.
The following year the division I led at my then-workplace which studied consumer books was closed and I was laid off in the most unceremonious and maddeningly polite way imaginable. Today I do take some comfort knowing I was right when I predicted the resilience of print books and independent bookstores and I predicted the disaster that would ensue if Barnes & Noble tried to separate their e-book business from the rest of the company.
But still, it stung.
My point is it can take a while to move past the derailments that can sometimes take place around the holidays - or you just aren't feeling the Christmas vibe. Either way, I got a few suggestions at ways to try and feel the holiday spirit.
5) Watch the Cranksgiving San Jose video shot by Tanner Marcoida
Yeah it has been a while since I've written, hasn't it? Cranksgiving San Jose took place on Nov. 18th. It was harder to do this year since I was running it - and I'm not just referring to my painful lack of leadership skills but my inability to drum up volunteers to replace the ones who moved out - or were priced out - of San Jose between the first Cranksgiving San Jose in 2016 and this one.
Still I'm incredibly happy with what was done: we had 61 riders gather 891 pounds of food to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. And the other day Tanner released the video and it is really difficult to watch without smiling.
4) Donate to Housing Trust Silicon Valley
If you've got year-end charitable contributions you want to make before the year comes to an end, please donate to Housing Trust Silicon Valley. They do a lot of great stuff to help people who are impacted by the cartoonishly high home and rent prices out here: financing affordable homes, down payment assistance for buyers, programs to help homeless move into a place they can afford. They do important work, and as of two months ago, I am happy to say I help them do it.
3) Take a Yoga Class and donate a class at Be The Change Yoga & Wellness
Three days before Cranksgiving I was in for a shock: TechShop closed suddenly. While my anger at their Chapter 7 filing and sadness that it couldn't stay open in an area revered for its innovation is still with me, it was a reminder that in order to support local organizations you have to pull out your wallet.
When I started doing yoga a few years ago I looked at it as a chance to be in a room full of beautiful women once a week while gaining the flexibility necessary to repair a kitchen sink with the aid of a spinx pose. But it's turned into more, and I felt a lot less unanchored in San Jose when I found Be The Change Yoga & Wellness.
This is a very well organized pile of clothes and supplies Be The Change gathered in order to help the homeless. They allow students to take something if they can give it to a homeless person they know but I think they'll be eventually giving them out at St. James Park (which was the starting point of Cranksgiving San Jose this year).
So when you donate to them and support BTC by taking a class as a student this is the kind of thing you're supporting. They just rock. Support them and, even better, also take a class since it's a great way to de-stress this time of year. They also have a tree right now that you can decorate by writing something you like about yourself and hanging it on a branch.
That's me with my new creation: a towable bike workstand made from the skeleton of the child's bike trailer someone in my neighborhood was throwing away. It made its motion debut at the Turning Wheels for Kids Big Bike Build that took place on December 2nd.
Thousands of bikes were assembled by hundreds of volunteers. I put together eight of them. I wasn't in the most Christmasy mood at the start. "Ugh!" I said to myself more than once, "If they play Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You song again she'd better show up with an apron and a spanner to help!"
But something happened during the day. I started smiling more - and it wasn't just because strangers kept coming up to me to admire the workstand. I began to realize that little kids will grow up into adults and will always remember the Christmas morning where they came into to the living room and saw it near the tree.
The bikes were all built with incredible speed. By the time everyone left mid-afternoon I was in a better mood. I even caught myself mumbling/singing "I don't care about the pres-ents under-neath the Chris-mas tree" to myself quietly on the way out.
Find a place you believe in and donate money, time or both.
1) Ride a bike at night
Before you take a ride at night make sure you take ownership over your safety and get a light yourself - a Blaze Laserlight if you can.
There's not a lot of time toward the end of the year for leisure rides, but you can take miniature bikeations around your own neighborhood at night and look at all the Christmas lights. I did this a lot more in Shippan Point in Stamford and am just starting to get back in the habit of doing it again out here. It's a good way to absorb some Christmas through your rods and cones - and silently criticize the decor of others, if you choose.
So that's what I've got. If you are a long-distance holiday traveler, I feel your pain. If you are welcoming a long-distance holiday traveler: they just want to see you and everything else is just details. No matter what, enjoy your time with family and friends. Ride together if you can but make it a no-drop ride with an asterisk: drop grudges, drop attitudes, drop regrets, drop stress and drop the general extracurricular ridiculousness. Enjoy the holidays. And if you don't feel the the-goose-that-is-as-big-as-me?! excitement rest easy. You'll get there. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.
Riding the Ferris Wheel at Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose.