Yes, but a mixed blessing at times, what with all the activities and preparation.  There’s the gift buying and wrapping; the Christmas cards to design and get produced; the updating of the mailing list, and the necessary trip to the post office.  There’s the tree to purchase and install and decorate; there’s all of the Christmas decorations from the past to get out and place.   There’s the Christmas formal including getting the traditional corsage for Barbara; numerous other parties to go to and make nice (isn’t it nice to have them, though).  Putting up some outdoor lights.  Placing and lighting the Snow Village ceramic houses, about all that’s left from the old basement trains.  Ah, but there’s a concession: there’s the three by six snow-covered Christmas village I built last year, with its old world lighted houses, its trees, and its single loop of HO track for a mountain passenger train.  That just got up on the 23rd.  Here’s part of it.

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I made a point, however, of also taking in much of what Philadelphia has to offer during the holiday weekends.  On one Saturday we toured the annual Christmas Market outside City Hall.  This year the village was much bigger and was spread around Love Park.  The booths ranged from pure seasonal to home improvement but the Christmas items were inviting.

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The decorated park provided an interesting perspective for Ben Franklin.  (Later:  my friend, Roz, just nicely corrected me; that’s William Penn, not Ben Franklin.  Oh, well.)

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We enjoyed the wurst although it wasn’t Nuremberg wurst, but the gluehwein was not memorable.  We were reminded of our previous visits to Bavaria and the Christmas Markets.   Here’s the Nuremberg market a few years ago, by the 14th C. Schöner Brunnen or beautiful fountain.

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Here we enjoyed the totally memorable Nuremberg Wurst.  The small sign in the background announces beer or wine at €2.  Not bad.

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Another weekend we made our way to the always lively and colorful Reading Terminal Market to see their annual train display.  It was nice but the market, itself, was fun.  Lots of people, seemingly in a good mood, enjoying live entertainment, eating,  and stocking up from a wide variety of choices.

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My favorite area is always the produce section where the colors seductively say, “Take me home.”  Another great addition to my placemat series.

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 From there we hiked over to Wanamaker’s or Strawbridge’s (it was, briefly) or, I guess, Macy’s for the annual light show, along with probably only a few thousand others.  Don’t go on a weekend.

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Yeah, only a few memories, having seen my first light show (with dancing fountains) with Marty Lou and my daughters in 1962.  It’s still a powerful show, made more so by the years of memories.  In later years we left the show to go upstairs to see Santa and to pick out an ornament for the tree.  Many of those still appear on the tree.

Because of the crowd I couldn’t see the show directly (the usher chased me from the vantage point above).  So, I noticed some of the other beautiful seasonal decorations.

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Although it’s raining today (Christmas Eve), and Barbara has slipped north to spend Christmas with her Dedham family, I have many nice things to reflect on from the month’s activities.  With the tree up and decorated and the train running I can enjoy my morning coffee amidst memories in the sun room.  The tree was bigger than I should have bought and I had to have help getting it into the house and in place.  It was worth it.  The fragrance, alone, on entering the room is wonderful.

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There are ornaments on the tree that were on my parents’ first tree in 1918; there are ornaments from my grandparents’ tree; there are ornaments that we purchased for our first tree; and there are the ornaments that the kids purchased over the years.  It provides me with a great, comforting sense of continuity.

Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year but it’s also a bittersweet time, sometimes even lip-quivering, remembering family and friends who have gone.

I am profoundly comforted by those that remain…..personal friends here on campus and nearby, some even from childhood….my shore-life friends….my immediate family which is my support system, Sigrid, Bob, Madeline, Gretchen and Kirsten….my friends and colleagues that I have met and learned from and enjoyed through my photography passion….and my cousins, nephews and nieces with whom I’ve reconnected through social media.


A Merry Christmas To All!!