Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Happy Holidays

Christmas came to the Central Peninsula with gusto this year

Christmas came to the Central Peninsula with gusto this year after two years of simply passing through and waving. Santa landed in Kenai right on time the day after Thanksgiving, then stopped over in Soldotna to introduce Christmas in the Park. He also made a stop in Nikiski to see if they had a space for him to park each year from now on as he makes his way south on the annual reconnoiter before his actual trip on Dec. 24. He even made some incidental appearances with various organizations on his way back to get the Elves in line.

The bazaars amped up with one or more every weekend from Thanksgiving on. Lots of craft shows and Christmas markets, too, all through the time of anticipation. One of the reindeer even showed up here and there to encourage toy drives and food basket donations Our area was ready for a major celebration after two years of marking time and Christmas this year was perfect timing.

There are other holidays to celebrate, too: Hanukkah, which began on Dec. 18 this year; Kwanza will begin on Dec. 26 and continue all week; and Festivus, a made-up parody on all the stressful hoop-la of the season which caught on, was celebrated on Dec. 23; and, of course, the Solstice, which we all wait for nearly as much as Christmas.

In Ancient times, Saturnalia was celebrated during mid-December by the Romans. Many of its traditions, like gift-giving and mountains of food, have been carried into Christmas, which was the practice of the early Christian church to persuade the pagans to become a part of the church congregation. Winter Solstice (also called Hibernai Solstice….I can understand why. I sleep more between Thanksgiving and Valentine‘s Day than the rest of the year combined.) was celebrated by other Europeans with many traditions that were also incorporated into the Christmas celebration, among them the Yule log, wassail, candles, and the celebration lasting for several days.

Of course we had to have a couple of snow days thrown into the mix, just to make things more interesting and Christmaslike. Reminded me of my elementary school years when we could depend on being snowed in at least one day during Christmas break except I’m not in elementary school and have a lot less appreciation for snow than I did in those days. But I have to admit it was pretty, especially the next day when the sun was bright. Made it easier to be snowbound. A good book, a jigsaw puzzle and the trusty T.V. made it bearable.

The Hallmark Channel started showing Christmas movies before Halloween and since Thanksgiving most of the regular channels have had at least one a night. Early on, we watched Rudolph and also “Reindeer in Here”, the new special about misfit reindeer saving Christmas. The newest Dolly Parton special was a couple of nights later. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer“ was good comic relief from the typical somebody saves Christmas from some Grinchlike person. Dolly’s “Christmas of Many Colors” offered a little change of pace . The commercials are a lot more fun, bringing Christmas along usually with humor and the cooking shows are interesting to watch as they produce cute and sometimes beautiful concoctions for the holidays. And always somewhere, radio or T.V., you can find an hour or more of carols, be it traditional or contemporary.

But now it is Christmas Eve. We have made the fruit cakes, the mincemeat, Stollen bread and egg nog. Attended the concerts, the carolings, all the Christmas parties and sing-a-longs. Our Jewish friends will light their seventh candle tonight, maybe serve potato latkes and certainly a jelly doughnut (Sufganyiot) or two and open one of the nightly gifts.

Kwanzaa will happen all next week and our Russian Orthodox neighbors are on the countdown for Christmas just as some of us prepare for Twelfth Night: Tomorrow is the First Day of Christmas.

Tomorrow is also the day to reflect on why we are so exuberant. We have spent the better part of a month whooping it up in preparation for ‘the BIG Day” after two years of benign celebration. Maybe take a minute before all the festivities and remember why we are celebrating this day.

Merry Christmas!!

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