Despite the cheery tinkling of those silver bells, Christmastime in the city isn't always something that makes us want to meet smile after smile. Indeed, San Francisco has a reputation for being one of the loneliest cities in the world, with an average household occupancy of 1.3 people (you and the cat?) and all-too-common stories of people lying dead in their apartments until they're discovered by the landlord two weeks after the rent's due.
So what do you do if you're not satisfied with Christmas on KOIT, Old Crow, and a glazed and crosshatched loaf of Spam for you and Ms. Katrina Marmalade Pussycat? Check out our ideas for making the holiday seem less bleak or at least less boring.
What's more San Francisco than spending the holiday with former mayoral hopeful (and possible candidate for supervisor) Chicken John Rinaldi? The artist and showman has been putting on a game show gift exchange (Dec. 24, 10 p.m.; 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission, SF; 415-970-9777, www.chickenjohn.com) every Christmas Eve for two decades.
If you're more of a traditionalist, visit Glide Memorial United Methodist Church (Dec. 24, 11 a.m.2 p.m.; 330 Ellis, SF; 415-674-6000, www.glide.org). This beacon for the city's disenfranchised and left behind hosts a prime rib luncheon every Christmas Eve. Sure, you can volunteer (they always need more help), but if what you need is a warm meal and some company, you can just show up and eat.
A glass of Christmas on the rocks doesn't have to be an exercise in despair. In fact, neighborhood watering holes like the Gold Dust Lounge (247 Powell, SF; 415-397-1695), the Lexington Club (3464 19th St., SF; 415-863-2052), the Mix (4086 18th St., SF; 415-431-8616), and Sam Jordan's (4004 Third St., SF; 415-824-0155) will not only be open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but also feature drink specials.
For some people, it's personal contact, not religious expression, that's really being sought at the holidays. Why not go straight to the source? Whether you like the Power Exchange (74 Otis, SF; 415-487-9944, www.powerexchange.com), Eros (2051 Market, SF; 415-864-3767, www.erossf.com) or Steamworks (2107 Fourth St., Berk.; 510-845-8992, www.steamworksonline.com), a visit to one of these clubs pretty much guarantees a satisfying alternative to mistletoe modesty.
If you want to try a new spin on the classic Chosen People's Chinese foodandmovie routine, visit the Jewish Museum's Free Family Day (Dec. 25, 11 a.m.3 p.m., free; RayKo Photo Center, 428 Third St., SF; www.jmsf.org) for music, stories, interactive exhibits, and tours, then Lisa Gedulig's 15th annual evening of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy (Dec. 22 and 24, 6 and 9:30 p.m.; Dec. 23 and 25, 5 and 8:30 p.m., $40$60; New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific, SF; 415-522-3737, www.koshercomedy.com/kungpao) for Jewish-themed stand-up.
For something a bit more pagan, head across the bridge to the Berkeley Partners for Parks' Winter Solstice Celebration (Dec. 22, 5 p.m.; Cesar Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park, 11 Spinnaker Way, Berk.).
Think Clara's an obnoxious Goody Two-shoes? See the rats' side of the story at the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band's Dance-Along Nutcracker: Ratified! (opening gala Dec. 8, 7 p.m., $50; Dec. 8 and 11, 2:30 p.m.; Dec.