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Posts tagged ‘Holiday’

Orange Holiday

The night glows with a just-past-full moon and jack o’lantern fairy lights festoon doorways and rooftops. The haunting season flourishes in the suburban area around my home. Or, as I like to call it, the Orange Holiday season.

The decoration mania surprises me, but not too much; after all, the “holiday stores” have been open since September. Blowsy fake cobwebs, oversized spiders with glowing green eyes, lookalike headstones planted in lawns—this is my America. In the suburbs, skeletons walk, pumpkins grin, a big ol’ spider hovers, and a tree posing as an owl supervises this nighttime array. Ceramic faux pumpkins laughed while I wrangled a tugging dog. One house even had a “laser show” with green ghosts flying around on the brickwork. Yes, flying. It moved! These are not Martha Stewart’s tasteful decorations; most of the ones I see are plastic, with LEDs, and reside in the dictionary under the word “tacky.”

Halloween yard decorations

Halloween yard decorations. © JustHavingFun

To stop a thief, light a light-Duquesne Light (Pittsburgh Press)

To stop a thief, light a light-Duquesne Light © Pittsburgh Press

Now this may not look so odd to you, but this display startled me. I was walking the dog down a sparsely lit side road and had forgotten to bring a flashlight. Peering ahead to prevent tripping over broken sidewalk, I noted which houses were completely dark and eerie. [An aside: Indoctrinated by the 1970s advertising campaign, “To Stop a Thief, Light a Light” promoted by Duquesne Light, dark houses look menacing to me, awaiting Bad Things To Happen. Note Chilly Billy on the same page.]

The houses that were lit loomed out of the darkness. Nearing the end of the block, the dog lunged for a car, yanking me closer to the Halloween house. He paused to sniff and I paused to click. How could I not? Ceramic faux pumpkins laughed while I wrangled the tugging dog. Will they attract many more trick or treaters banging at their door on October 31st?

What is this fetish to decorate the house exterior? If all the decor is outside, does one feel more festive inside? Why? You can’t see it if you are not outside!

If you don’t go the plastic or ceramic route, you can always carve your own pumpkins. (With all the pumpkins purchased, does anyone eat them or the seeds?) Have you noticed there are now professional pumpkin carving master tool sets for sale? This is a thing! “Sick of buying new pumpkin carving tools every year — only for them to break yet again?” the article asks. I didn’t know. I’m terribly behind the times, especially what is now “in” for the Orange Holiday. The dog does not care.

Halloween ceramic jack o'lanterns. © JustHavingFun

Halloween ceramic jack o’lanterns. © JustHavingFun

Soon the Orange Holiday will pass. If I recall correctly from walking the dog this way last year, this particular home will be ready for the “Red & Green” holiday soon, decked with rows of jolly candy canes lining the walk. We mark our seasons by the colors of the holidays. More on that observation later.

Happy Halloween!

Fireworks

Independence Hall, 2006. Gezelle Rivera via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Independence Hall, 2006. Gezelle Rivera via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

The morning of July 4, 1976 —The Bicentennial—I was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Independence Mall, the cradle of liberty. The Liberty Bell, which I had seen and touched several times in Independence Hall was being moved to a new display area—but I don’t remember that fact from that particular day. I remember standing with tens of thousands of others in the common area outside Independence Hall, looking upward at speakers mounted on poles, as various Important People discussed the importance of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Who spoke? I suppose I could research that but it wouldn’t release any memories. The morning sky shone bright blue, the excitement was palpable, and banners with the Liberty Bell hung everywhere. Philly shone.

Bicentennial Logo

Bicentennial Logo

I had been visiting my grandparents after my freshman year in college. I traveled alone, made my own schedule, had plans to visit friends in New Jersey the following week. A big shot. After the morning events, I went back to my grandparents’ home taking the El and then a bus. Later that night, I planned to go see the fireworks downtown. My plans for the night never, never had a chance.

My grandmother, Bubba Lena, forbade it, and I suppose my grandfather, Zayda Jack, backed her up. Bubba was a nervous sort, and couldn’t understand the glamour of being in Center City with zillions of Philadelphians watching the biggest fireworks display ever for an 18-year old no matter how much I begged, whined, cajoled, or reasoned with my shiny new “college girl” skills. Filial duty prevailed and Bubba’s law triumphed. I was afraid she’d have a nervous breakdown.

So we watched the fireworks on TV. With the sound blasting. Happy 4th of July!

Old TV. Andy Melton via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Old TV. Andy Melton via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Baltimore Burns

image

chametz, that is. Thousands of Jews raced to the famed Pimlico Race Track today, the eve of Passover, to burn bread, bagels, cereal, crackers, and pizza, boxes and all. City police wearing fluorescent green vests guided the cars into the parking lot and toward available spaces. City Fire Marshals stood by ready to prevent accidents. They even parked a fire truck for children to explore.

Entire families, young and old carry all sorts of containers laden with leavened products, or chametz, which Jews are forbidden to own or have benefit from during the eight-day festival.

People living in neighbouring houses watch the spectacle. Some people avoided the parking lot and parked on the side streets. Imagine the sight of three white-shirted young men sporting black fedoras emerging from a car. They are carrying garbage bags into the parking lot, joining the throng there. Following them is a young pregnant woman pushing a stroller trailing her husband and a few other children. They nod to and thank the officer guiding them in the crosswalk.

Still, the main event is in the parking lot by the 20-or-so barrels blazing behind safety rails. I feel the mad heat as I toss in a Trader Joe’s bag with my leftover chametz. My bag hits the target and plops into a raging turmoil.

image

Other people aren’t as neat about it. All sorts of bread products litter the base of the cans. Since care is taken to not burn plastics, people try to pour cereal into the fires but found the heat too hot to keep their hands there. So the cereal, or bread, pouring out of the plastic bags landed on the ground. I saw one enterprising man spear a bagel through its center hole and toss it back into the fire.

Before I leave I pause to say the formulaic nullification of chametz in Aramaic. These words connect me with millions of Jews throughout history who have said this very same declaration. I am here and now in Baltimore, and I am there and then in Babylon. The year is not a circle. Rather, it is a spiral through time. We celebrate our Redemption from slavery in Egypt on this night. And this day we remove our are puffed up egos burning leavened products. Next year in Jerusalem!

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