Thursday, December 22, 2011
Star of Wonder, Star of Night
I switched the TV on to the Christmas carol channel to get the holiday spirit going last night and came away with some valuable information.
The cable people like to run little Yuletide factoids along the bottom of the screen while the music plays. So I learned that in Hungary, food cannot be eaten on Christmas Eve until a twinkling star is seen in the sky.
No food, I thought, that’s ridiculous. What happens if it’s overcast and you don’t see any stars?
You go Hungary! (Ouch! I'll be getting a lump of coal for that one...)
But as I thought about it, I started to like this tradition. A star is a sign of hope and given the current state of the world we could all use a little hope right this very minute. It seemed like a good idea to hold up the party until you get that sign from above.
I just got done watching “Scrooge,” the best film version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and it got pretty emotional.
I grew up watching this movie with my family and now here I was sitting by myself, remembering all those great holidays. I went through a lot of tissues as I recalled Christmas past, but it’s still a great movie.
I was planning to Scrooge my way through Christmas this year. I was sickened by news of Black Friday shoppers pepper-spraying each other or trampling over their fellow human beings to snatch up two-dollar waffle irons.
Keep Watching the Skies
And then there’s the commercials that Santa Claus peddling everything from electronics to candy. St. Nick is even walking the floor of a car dealership for God’s sake. This is how we celebrate the birth of Jesus? No, thank you.
But you can rise above all that misery and still enjoy Christmas. There is a festive mood in the air, there are so many beautiful songs, and then, of course, there are all the lights.
The Salvation Army set up a kettle on Church Street near my office and I saw one man holding up a sign that said “It’s our last week—can you at least give us a smile?”
And instead of Christmas carols the boom box was playing the Beatles “All You Need is Love.” That got me smiling all right.
I joined my sister and some friends for a trip through Dyker Heights to look at the Christmas decoration extravaganza. For those of you who haven’t been there, the homeowners go insane with lights, music, animatronic figures, and people in costume.
So many cars drive up one particular street during the holidays that the police have to direct traffic. There’s even a tour bus that brings people over from Manhattan to look at the Brooklynites in their native habitat.
My sister suggested parking the car a few blocks away from Christmas Central and walking around the various streets. That turned out to be a great idea.
We avoided the traffic jam, but more importantly, we got to walk around with other people. I honestly don’t know how these homeowners can afford to pay their electric bills—they must have separate generators.
I kept thinking this is crazy, this is over the top, but then I’d see how much fun the kids were having and it all seemed worthwhile. I didn’t have to look into the sky to see any twinkling stars—they were all around me.
I’m going to take some time off for the holidays, so I want to wish everyone a merry and a happy whatever-it-is-you-celebrate. Enjoy yourself, keep searching for your twinkling star, and don’t ever go Hungary.