A Petaluma Christmas Carol…2009


In 2007, the day after Christmas, I posted “A Petaluma Christmas Carol” on Petaluma 360. That article was based on a homeless camp that included Christmas decorations and a Christmas Tree.

I visited the location in December 2008 and there was no camp. Therefore, I reposted the article in its original form. 

 As part of the review process for this year, I returned to the site on December 3. A homeless camp similar to the one in 2007 had once again been established. This time it included a household pet with feeding dishes…


Not trusting myself to not go off the rails if I were to comment on this scene, I will simply allow it to speak for itself and to serve as preamble to…


A Petaluma Christmas Carol 2007-2009

None of us are immune from the possibility of ending up without a home…

…seeking assistance or shelter from the cold…

…or living outside under a Petaluma bridge…

I did not plan to revisit this subject, but events often override intentions…

December 23, 2007

As I was traveling over the bridge that was the subject of Sleepless & Homeless, I noticed that the scene had been decorated for Christmas–a Christmas Tree, Christmas Wreaths, and objects at the base of the tree. One of the objects was a copy of Better Homes & Gardens–intentional or not, the irony was glaring.

In spite of the circumstance of their situation, the creators of this Outdoor Christmas managed to demonstrate their Christmas Spirit. 

I thought of Dickens…and how little has changed since he wrote the now iconic A Christmas Carol in 1843.


‘Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!’…

 ‘At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,’ said the gentleman, taking up a pen, ‘it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.’


‘Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.’


‘At this time of the rolling year,’ the spectre said ‘I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes down…’

 ‘If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future…’



From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children…
–‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers.  This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.
–Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye.  Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
 And abide the end.’

‘A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.’

‘God bless us every one.’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.’


It has almost become a seasonal ritual or cliche to encourage people to make year-end charitable donations. 

Petaluma’s COTS is a remarkable organization dedicated to helping  homeless individuals and families. For additional background, see Petaluma’s Homeless Neighbors

A COTS donation in any amount will be appreciated and will be put to good use.

1. You can donate online at http://www.cots-homeless.org/ 


2. You can send a check to


P.O. Box 2744

Petaluma, CA 94953


6 thoughts on “A Petaluma Christmas Carol…2009

  1. I’d also encourage people to volunteer with COTS. Even if you’ve had negative experiences volunteering for homeless services organizations in the past (like I had in at least one experience working in a soup kitchen, where I felt like there were people taking advantage where they shouldn’t be). COTS does an amazing job of helping people who really want to change get on their feet and take control of their lives.

    Well worth giving money and time to. Participating in their Family Connection program has been extremely rewarding for us.

  2. Dear Frank, What a heartfelt post. We shouldn’t forget the Mary Issak Center. I give warm clothes this time of year. You know some don’t understand why we have people sleeping in homeless camps when they could go to the Mary Issak Center and I too wonder at times. As you know, Larry talks to many while walking Punky, but he has pneumonia so hasn’t been out lately but, about a month ago he said there wasn’t any homeless around Lynch creek/Luchessi area. He said they were doing pretty good, stayed at Mary Isack had gotten jobs and one had rented a house and others too. I appreciate your pictures but it makes me sad.

    • E-mail reaction to the several posts on my site yesterday prompts this supplement:

      1. The cat is not feral. It is obviouslly domesticated. There was some food and water avaiable in the dishes and a container of cat food was nearby. The cat was merely awaiting the return of its caregivers.

      2. A point in favor of the situation (if it is possible to speak in those terms) is that the animal wasn’t simply dumped to fend for itself. This does occur in certain locations around town.

      3. For more photos of the camp go to http://forums.petaluma360.com/eve/forums?a=albumtopic&TOPIC_OID=3111080749&f=7161011607

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