December 23rd is my favorite day of year.
In fact, the time spanning from December 20th through December 23rd are simply the most… “something…” days of the year. There is an unprecedented “something” in the air that simply can not be described. Everyone is excited. Every moment is cliché. Every emotion is extreme. Everyone is coming up romance, or regret, or worry, or melancholy. Everyone is pushing to get final projects done, or slacking from their work, or daydreaming their December away. Everyone is either making merry or bah humbugging the merry makers. And everyone outside of your immediate family is trying to get one last chance to see you before Christmas eve. Everyone is feeling “something.” And it seems as if everyone’s holiday treat has been laced with ecstasy.
I never really liked Christmas Day. It always felt like a big let down. The commercially fabricated Christmas specials, the emotionally induced high of gift giving and receiving, the spirituality, the evening parties, and all the rest of the “stuff” that was the previous month ends on that day, most likely by 10 am. In the past, I usually spent the rest of the day trying to find a way to recapture the magic 23rd.
Over the last two years, I have been gradually trying to alter my holiday perceptions. I always dreamt of hot cocoa, a holiday medley around the fire, and Vermont style inns. What I usually received was a nice holiday that never quite lived up to my unattainable Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye expectations. (My expectations often lead to excessively elaborate production numbers often involving a piano.)
This year, I have decided to try to make the best of everything that happens or does not happen. I have decided to make my holiday week a week worth remembering. I decided to fill it with fun and little expectation, and I decided to at least try to attend every extended invitation. I decided to make time for moments instead of succumbing to the pressure of the big picture.
I headed to the Strip District on Tuesday to meet Sarah Wojdylak and Lisa Toboz on their lunch break. I was struck by the fact I had not really hung out in the Strip since working there many years ago. The smells, sights and sounds of that place both transports me to and makes me long for New York City. I had spent many a day eating crab cakes at Roland’s, fresh fish from Wholey’s, or devouring meatball subs while sitting on the roof of our office building watching the cars drive across the 16th street bridge. Gosh, I love the Strip.
I saw Lisa’s plastic umbrella emerge through the crowds of holiday shoppers even before I saw the two of them walk towards me. The shape of her umbrella took me back to being a kid in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s one of those umbrellas that takes over the entire upper half of your body when you were a kid. It was always warm inside and your voice sounded modulated from the way it bounced off the clear thick walls. I imagined it as a giant snow globe and I immediately wanted to capture it “on film.” Prior to our meeting, we had briefly discussed trying to find a weird holiday display on this lunch break (maybe even dolling ourselves up in tinsel) and photographing ourselves in front of it; like some sort of weird Christmas card homage. But there were no real cheeky, technicolor-like displays in the Strip. Lisa mentioned an out-of-the-way church courtyard that may have “something” to it so we followed. I was fixated on the umbrella/snow globe. When we arrived we knew right away that we had found something wonderful. We excitedly passed around my shabby Nikon Coolpix point and shoot camera that has truly seen better days but still take great images. Our time was restricted due to their lunch schedules. I could have shot for another hour. I am grateful for these little impromptu sessions. They always reenergize me. I felt like a little kid posing and watching them inside our makeshift snow globe. It gave me that intangible, magical feeling you only get around the holidays.
A friend of mine once described a difficult event in his life as someone “shaking up his snow globe.” This year, mine has been rattled to the point that I am still waiting for the snow to settle to reveal the fabrication inside. I am weirdly humbled and mostly thankful for all that has happened these past 12 months because it has led me to some joy filled moments happening right now, like this one: these snow globes of abstract something. I don’t know what the rest of this week will bring, but for now I leave you with this most recent set of makeshift snow globe moments (below) and I wish you all the merriest of holidays. (Photos by me, Sarah Wo and Lisa T. Thanks for the inspiration, ladies.)