Sunday, December 6, 2015

Spending the day with Christmas past

If I start with a quote of "God bless us, every one," can you guess where I spent the afternoon? You're right! We all went to see a matinee performance of Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls. Despite knowing the story, and having a strong visual preference for the movie version with George C. Scott as Scrooge, I found that live theatre engaged me more than any movie ever has. A live performance, particularly one in which the actors also move lots of the props, requires me to use my imagination more than when it's all being laid our for me on the movie/TV screen and I can't see the "little man behind the curtain" making it all work. This performance was ASL signed. The signer stood to the left of the stage as the audience looked at it and, often, much of the action was stage right. It occurred to me that it might be very frustrating to have to divide your attention that way in order to experience a performance.

This morning we headed into the "big city" for brunch at the Nicollet Island Inn. The Christmas decorations fit the general decor of the late 19th century, which served as a nice prelude to Dickens London of the mid-19th century. Soon we'll gather 'round the dining table because someone is celebrating a birthday today. That's why the brunch and the brief posting today.

gingerbread village, 2014
gingerbread village, 2014
Photo by J. Harrington

Still ahead, I think, is the creation of this year's gingerbread house / village. I'm sure I'll discover more about that as Christmas season present moves toward Christmas yet to come and away from Christmas past. Don't forget to count your blessings this season (including Chanukah) and share with those less fortunate.

Chanukah Lights Tonight

By Steven Schneider 

Our annual prairie Chanukah party—   
latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes.   
Friends arrive from nearby towns   
and dance the twist to “Chanukah Lights Tonight,”   
spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit.   

The candles flicker in the window.   
Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows.   
If you squint,   
the neighbors’ Christmas lights   
look like the Omaha skyline.   

The smell of oil is in the air.   
We drift off to childhood   
where we spent our gelt   
on baseball cards and matinees,   
cream sodas and potato knishes.   

No delis in our neighborhood,   
only the wind howling over the crushed corn stalks.   
Inside, we try to sweep the darkness out,   
waiting for the Messiah to knock,   
wanting to know if he can join the party.


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