AU REVOIR NOËL

For many years now I have found Christmas to be anti-climactic. For weeks there is the buildup – – – the decorating, the holiday parties, the music, the final preparation of gifts, and the gathering of family and friends for Christmas dinner.  Then …  Then ?

So now it’s the day after and for me it’s a let-down.  Back to pedestrian reality.  Part of the therapy is to review all of the pleasant and fun events of the buildup.  One that came to mind was Medford’s Dickens Night.  We haven’t been able to go for six years because I was involved in an annual craft show the same day.  When we did get there it was a wonderful evening.

This year we went back but couldn’t see much of the traditional charm because the street was lined with food tents and crafters’ tents.  “You can’t go home again.”

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On Christmas Eve morning I was starting to feel some of the let-down so I decided that I needed to go to the city to see and photograph people and color and signs of Christmas.  Off I went on a sparsely occupied High Speed Line …. but pleased to find that my fellow riders included lots of children headed for some center-city excitement.

After arrival in the city I decided to go into Macy’s to find the schedule for their light show.  Instead, I found one in process.  Since it had already started, I wound up well in the back but that was OK as I’ve surely seen it off and on since the early 60’s.  Instead I concentrated on other views and enjoyed the process.  My view was blocked by an arch but it was decorated and so became a sample of everything.

The most exciting part of the show was, after its conclusion, to run into Bobby and Sigrid and grand-daughters Maddy and Gretchen.  We even concluded that we had come in on the same train.  They invited me along for their Christmas Eve wanderings but I demurred as I had photographing in mind.  Here was my final shot at Macy’s, taken after the crowd had dispersed.  That eagle has been coming there even longer than me.

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These two shots, however, reminded me of another pleasure several years ago when I captured the Philadelphia Boys Choir at a morning rehearsal before the light show was turned on.

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Outside of Macy’s the show windows were Christmasy and colorful.  Here’s one which included a replica of City Hall.

Nahhh.  That’s a reflection but I liked the combination.

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Then a walk through City Hall.  I had done the west area a couple of weeks ago so this time I exited towards north Broad Street.  This tree at the entrance was attractive.

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From there I walked a couple of blocks east to the Reading Terminal Market, always a favorite.  The market was busy, busy, busy.  I wondered around for a while and then settled in with a PHILADELPHIA Cheese Steak.  It can not be more authentic.  Everyone seemed in a good mood.  After lunch, more wandering including a favorite, the produce area.  A box of Driscoll’s strawberries was about 40% less than at ShopRite and my dazzling personality brought me another 10% off without my asking.  For that she got a “Merry Christmas” and I got an additional smile.  My last stop was at the Pennsylvania General Store for a box of Asher’s dark chocolate salted caramels.  See what I mean about reviewing pleasant events?

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CHANGE OF SUBJECT BUT STILL CHRISTMAS

This week an older image of mine resurfaced as shared on F/B.  It is some photoshoppery of a fisherman’s or hunter’s shack which marked the entrance to Long Beach Island for many years.  Even before its disappearance in Hurricane Sandy, it had become an icon.  It celebrated one’s arrival for vacation and added poignancy when leaving at the end of vacation.  One year I enhanced an image as more of a winter scene and added a Christmas Tree that lives in several of my images.  I subsequently sold many copies at craft shows and a couple of years ago I uploaded it to the Remember When Long Beach Island F/B page.

The original image was made in February, 2005, and the foreground snow was there.  In 2008 I replaced the sky with the gradient blue fill, and added the falling snow effect and the Christmas Tree.  I had captured the tree at the Pittsburgh Winter Garden in 2001.

Well, it has resurfaced and has accumulated over five hundred “Likes” along the way.  That makes for a warm feeling.

And, it helps one get past that anti-climactic feeling.

Merry Christmas for yesterday and for the future!

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P.S.  For more of my peripatetic Christmas Tree, click here.

 

 

THE RETURN OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE

Today at 11:28 AM marks the occurrence of the winter solstice. Its Latin roots are sol and stit or sun stopped. As a practical matter the sun appears to have moved as far south as it ever goes and will now start its journey back north. Tomorrow there will be two more seconds of daylight.  Phew! What a relief. However, even so, it’s going to take a few months to warm up again.

Cold or not it’s a beautiful time of the year but, come on, it can also be a little hectic. Sometimes it whirls by in a swirl of color and that helps make the short bleak cold days tolerable.

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The little figures above were as seen by my Lensbaby Composer Pro lens. Sometimes it gives the effect of too much partying but I like what it does. The little figures were in a stand at Philadelphia’s Christmas Market in Love Park near City Hall. It’s always fun to wander amongst the families enjoying the scene with its Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) character.

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Elsewhere in the area, in Dilworth Park Garden just west of the City Hall building we found an enchanting America’s Garden Capital Maze. A half dozen of these big guys were watching over everything and I thought they were a great contrast with the downtown center-city buildings.

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Still in the Christmas Market area I came across this artist who created animals from heated colored glass rods. Seen again through the eye of my Lensbaby lens there is an aura of 10,000 B.C. to it all.

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We’ve been blessed with two decorative snow storms. They’re decorative in that traffic didn’t get snarled and they didn’t have much impact, and lingering warmth disposed of them pretty quickly. While they last the results are magical and fit our northern concept of Christmas. Here was my view of my friends’ nearby town house, that of Valerie and Dick C. They always enhance their place with decoration and lights, both inside and outside, and it adds to our life.

On a snowy night, perfect.

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After the snow my late wife Marty Lou’s crafty snowman looked good and felt at home. Marty and three of her buds would get together in December and make a Christmas Craft. They started here with a clear glass lamp chimney and painted it white. The get-outta-here felt hat is pinned up in front with a tiny sleigh bell. On the rim is a cardinal’s nest and miscellaneous grasses. There’s also some mistletoe berries and a tiny ceramic ginger bread man on the back of the rim. A plaid scarf protects against a sore throat, and the nose is a painted slash.

Sadly, of those four crafty ladies only one is still with us. I look forward to the annual reappearance of the little snow man. Christmas as a family event refreshes memories of family and friends who have left us. This year that includes Miss Pearl who I lost last December.  I miss her very much.

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HAS CHRISTMAS ARRIVED IN MY TOWN HOUSE?

You bet!  Too many traditions to ignore. First, my 86th Christmas Tree. I don’t remember the first three or four. Frankly, there are lots of others that I might not specifically remember, but I do remember the concepts and isolated memories of Christmases past. Notably, the $2.00 Charley Brown tree from our salad days in the early 70’s. This year’s tree is beautiful, loaded as always with ornaments from over the years including some from my grandparents’ trees. Age? I don’t know, but my parents married in 1918 and probably had their first tree that year.

Barb and I decorated mine last Saturday and we applied the tinsel one strand at a time as my childhood friend, Bimmie W. trained me to do.

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Elsewhere Christmas has cropped up in my living room. The Snow Village houses have appeared on the top of the china cabinet and on top of my wall unit. The houses and trains of my youth are on the shelves of the wall unit. One of the centerpieces which Sigrid made for our recent joint (Barbara and me) birthday party is on my coffee table. A basket of tree ornaments is on the little side table between the two chairs, and crystal and pressed glass pieces are on the dining table and on the coffee table. With the candles lit it is festive.

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A BEVELED GLASS PANEL

Finally, I tackled and completed another beveled glass panel this fall. It doesn’t say Christmas but it will be a long-requested gift. Details and construction are seen here (scroll to the bottom) on my Stained Glass page.  Tho not specifically a Christmas theme, it is a warm inviting window panel for the holidays.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS OR A HAPPY HOLIDAY

TO ALL OF MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS

AND A HAPPY, PROSPEROUS AND HEALTHY 2018