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.

 

 

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

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.

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A Merry Christmas To All!!

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THE READING TERMINAL MARKET ON AN OCTOBER AFTERNOON -10/17/09

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The Reading Terminal Market (in Philadelphia for you out-of-area readers) is a great place to visit any time but it seemed busier, warmer, and more colorful on this chilly Saturday afternoon.  Here were some Halloween decorations that one could take home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For a borderline vegetarian this is all very tempting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some yellow peppers stacked up.  They looked like off-color miniature pumpkins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A pumpkin, some pumpkin spice, and Indian corn.  Must be fall.