i truly believe that good, clean silliness is a very good thing--and continues to be the very best medicine. And, so, i share with you one of my favorite characters while wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas!!
on our way home from the city lights outing the bus wound through darkened streets of the slightly-run-down-and-reemerging little city of Dover where few of the modest homes shone with Christmas decorations.
then as the bus trundled up the hill a curious sight did appear in the mostly dark neighborhood: streamers of lights high in the tree tops
Though the hour was late and our bones weary from city wandering curiosity drew us back to Debbie Lane after we got off the bus and collected our car (clicking on the image provides a much better view)
according to the story in the paper it is created by Mike Antreassian who is a 70 year old retired engineer and clearly his neighbors join in.
"While he likes to spend time on the weekends sipping hot chocolate with the revelers, hearing their Christmas stories and thoughts on the lights, which are controlled via 18 circuit breakers, Antreassian said he does it for the children. It shows.
Writing letters to Santa Claus has become one of the main attractions. Each kid gets to sit at a wooden desk and write a note to Kris Kringle. The children then pull a rope, advancing the wish list 70 to 80 feet in the air, until it falls into a box...
"Some of them are really, really cute," Irene Antreassian said.
"Some are sad," Mike Antreassian said.
"Some are just asking for a sweater for grandma," the wife said.
"Or asking for the family to get back together," the husband said."
After leaving their notes for Santa, children usually get a chance to tell him their wishes directly. Most weekends, local residents volunteer to take turns as the big man."
Joyful giggling with glee that is what we felt in our car that night in glow of Antreassian's gift
during the holidays without loosing your mind in the mobs:
a. Get to know a weatherman/woman and become familiar with their lingo and batting average so that when they say, "First some light showers around 7, then heavy after midnight" you know that you can believe that is what will happen.
b. trust that people will simply hear "showers" and "rain" and will stay away from the city
c. book a tour on the double decker bus nightime, "Holiday Lights" tour--before local schools are out for the holiday
d. don't fret over the camera too much (the photos won't be great, no matter what you do) and enjoy the show without the camera in front of your face
This is precisely what J (the sister) and i did on Thursday and Oh! what fun!
We got in early and walked over to Times Square. Having spent my childhood near Las Vegas i'm not easily "whelmed" by bright lights that said Times Square is something to behold and photos just can't do it justice (unless you are a mega pro at such set ups, which i'm not)
the "billboards" are fantastic
and there's even one with a very important reminder
and i believe the Waterford crystal ball is already on its pole?
Board your double decker bus enjoy the greeting by the very charming Jamacan-born comediene who will keep you laughing while teaching you things you never knew about the city
enjoy the shooting stars
a garden of stars that change colors
fabulously over-the-top windows of feathered sculptures
and, yes that tree which always brings a lump to my throat
and a building wrapped in a crystal red bow with a jaguar climbing it
and a glitzy touch of Hollywood
And when it's all over walk to the grand New York City Public Library on 5th avenue and watch the sweet crowd of skaters in Bryant Park the really talented ones and those helping the wobbly ones and all the smiles
Generally speaking i avoid The City during Christmas week when the streets and sidewalks are packed even tighter with vehicles and people. But since my dear friend, Beverly was in town and i had not seen her for more than a year my sister and i bundled into our coats climbed aboard the bus and began our journey into The City a good two days before The Big Night.
Beverly was staying uptown with her holiday traveling friend's city cats
We had tea and homemade chocolate cake and chatted away while playing with and stroking Mars, an affectionate black tabby Apollo, a tall, lean ginger tabby who clearly has Abyssinian in his genes and Moon, a pure white furball impossible to resist. Two hours flew by and then it was time for her to dress for her night out as she sent us off to the Jewish Museum to view the exhibit dedicated to her friend Ezra Jack Keats and celebrating the 50th birthday of his groundbreaking classic The Snowy Day (images borrowed from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation)
Seeing his originals reading his notebooks and journals studying his sketchbooks and story boards being in his presence: Another Christmas gift from our friend.
Refreshed and fed in another way it was time to wend our way back to Port Authority via 5th Avenue and The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. In other words we girded our loins took a deep breath and said, "We can do this."
As expected the bus crept at a snail's pace down the avenue and we were glad to get off when it finally reached the Plaza. We zipped coats quickly and pulled on hats feeling revived in the cold air beneath a tiny, cool blue quarter moon above a glowing city
The sidewalks were teaming with (mostly) smiling multitudes everyone (except for a few true inhabitants trying to simply get home) looking up through cameras or down at their phones or into the enormous staggeringly ornate and elaborate sometimes breathtakingly beautiful sometimes disturbing window displays at Bergdorf Goodman* (more on them a bit later).
We walked under the snowflake at 57th
were charmed by the fantasy worlds created in Jewlery Stores of Great Repute
stopping often to gaze and smile, too
Finally we reached The Tree
where we were promptly swallowed up by the mobs barely escaping all but running toward 6th Avenue where (gasp!) the crowds where even worse (??)
It suddenly stopped being fun and felt as if we might be swept away in a neverending, crushing river of humans almost none of which were speaking English. i'd never experienced anything like this and i didn't like it.
E.T. phone home!
Taxi? Impossible. Then, a swarm of these appeared
i looked at my sister who was already standing in the street away from the flooding sidewalk we both smiled and her arm shot into the air.
We negotiated with the cyclist-driver who (thank our lucky stars) was clearly an American English speaking person and climbed into the carriage/cab.
The next thing we know we are moving into the stream of cars, buses and taxis and between cars, buses and taxis (bus and taxi drivers showing him/us every courtesy. Who knew such a comraderie reigned on these streets?) i am so astonished i do not notice, until he turns left into the center lane on Broadway that he has taken us into the very heart of Times Square!
click to view a larger version, if you like
Giant double decker buses pulling away from the curb next to us pause letting us go first taxis beep in a friendly way and their passengers smile at us grinning and laughing even (i confess) hooting once or twice.
i've never been one for roller coasters or amusement park rides but this this was fantastic Truly. the stuff of fantasy. At least for me. i would do this again in a heartbeat!
We miss the 6:45 bus and so wait, and wait on sore feet to snag a seat in a deli for a bite to eat and are the first in line for the 7:50 that takes us away from The City and, two hours later back to our home in the country where we are greeted by our own four paws friends and hang our coats in the alcove by the window
My weekend at Greenwood, following Thanksgiving was mostly raw and wet but there were several hours between rain squalls i spent exploring. Beneath a giant horse chestnut i found a a cache of gold-bronze leaves lying across
a wide carpet of pachysandra and moss which has revived from the end of summer drought back to a plump, moist carpet.
i gathered some holly berries selected some of the larger chestnut leaves and a large pachysandra pinwheel. The knees of my pants were good and soaked by the time i'd finished playing.