All of the American readers out there have had their Thanksgiving holiday and have hopefully recuperated from the controversy of Black Friday and what stores are open and which are not on Thanksgiving Day. The shops are already decorated and keeping holiday hours and the holiday season, as well as the marketing season, is in full swing. It can be a difficult time, a time when it's easy to lose perspective. I've stopped worrying if my greeting to someone is politically correct. Why should the holiday season be about worry? I have friends and family from all denominations and the good ones know that however I wish them happy holidays it is heartfelt. That is my attitude for all of the holiday season. Anything negative ought to be discarded, and anything that truly warms your heart should be embraced.
Here in Philadelphia we have found Christmas Village at Love Park. Yep, there are vendors like everywhere else this time of year. But there is more. There is the beautiful clock upon Philadelphia's City Hall that shines down on the park. It measures the hours now as it has for over a hundred years. Each December when we visit there I gaze up at it in the snow and cold night air and it inspires me. Here they have live carolers and my husband is one of them. He puts on a jacket and scarf and a top hat and it is as if he has stepped out of a holiday greeting card. He is Christmas from another time. The park is filled with families and smartly dressed men and women cutting through the park to catch a train or a trolley or stopping to browse. The women are in boots and pretty scarves huddled against the cold Pennsylvania winter.
At a nearby college we might see an orchestra playing grand holiday music with bells jingling and cymbals clanging. Joyful songs we hear only once a year and thoughtful songs that just maybe we ought not tune out entirely.
On Christmas morning we gather early with family and youngsters to celebrate our special traditions. We take turns opening all gifts, and the next doesn't get unwrapped until the one before has been fussed over and discussed. We take the time to hear the story behind why each gift was chosen by the giver and to say "thank you" personally. There are handmade gifts and thoughtfully chosen surprises and comical trying on of many things. By the time we have gathered for our holiday we are filled with spirit. It is a good thing, because it takes us all day. It is, as it should be, a celebration.
As so, this year, as every year, I look forward to the holidays. I don't do all of the trinkets and decorations that I used to, I only do those that bring me joy and good cheer. These once-a-year holidays are numbered and I am only allowed a handful really, should I add them up at the end of life. I will not waste a single one of them forgetting its meaning. I will always be able to feel as I do when I look up at the clock upon City Hall.
The stage schedule at Love Park Philadelphia:
See you next week!