It’s never too late to reinvent holiday traditions — or holidays themselves

Although my family lived on the Irish block of South Ozone Park, we attended the Italian church, St. Anthony of Padua. Much as I liked the corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, I preferred the cannoli from Stallone’s Bakery on the Feast of San Gennaro. Or the gifts from La Belfana on Epiphany Eve. One Columbus Day, Margie Carbone taught Nurse Vivian how to bake lasagna and it became my mother’s “exotic” specialty.

But at some point, everyone leaves New York. In a very dry August in the summer of 1991, my husband Brian and I (and five Pekingese pups) drove across the country in a rented truck from Jersey City to San Francisco, where we would Our first home was a rental on Fair Oaks Street, three houses away from Armistead Maupin, and because he had been a Chronicle columnist, we felt like we had met royalty.

We moved here on a dare, and so we knew little about the city, its geography or its culture. By October, we had explored Coit Tower, Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods and City Hall.

We also knew little of the politics: That fall a very crowded group ran to replace then-Mayor Art Agnos. In a runoff, Frank Jordan would eventually win the office on his pledge to end homelessness and litter in the city.

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