Happy: December 2004 Archives


Until this afternoon around 3:30 I still had no image for a New Year's post. Then I spotted Allie helping the harried (actually, sometimes pretty intense, witness the cell phones), last-minute shoppers waiting in the checkout line at the Whole Foods market down the block.

She's very beautiful, and the funny Louise Brooks hat/wig makes her very much a part of the frivolity of the holiday. Still, although I'm probably transferring too much here, especially since she was working and I was shopping on this New Year's Eve, her reluctant smile seems to register a sadness about certain appalling events of 2004 as much as a hope for a far happier 2005.

By midnight tonight may we all be thinking only the good thoughts.

Happy New Year to all!


My mother grew up in a large German Catholic family on a prosperous dairy farm in Wisconsin. Tradition was important, so important that even into her children's generation the excitement of St. Nicholas Eve, December 5th, managed to give Christmas Eve some pretty good competition.

Having later lived in a very elegant style for a short time in Los Angeles during the late 20's, and being familiar with the history of the plant's marketing, she always told us that she didn't think Poinsettias should have anything to do with Christmas. While growing up I absolutely loved the holiday, but our house always remained Poinsettia-free, just as it stood impervious to the much-advertised charms of shiny aluminum or pastel plastic trees during the peak of their popularity.

Today I've shed absolutely any attachment to December 24th (or 25th), but my mother's attitude toward Christmas has preserved this beautiful weed for my enjoyment. I've abandoned the religion as well as the holiday, but I still love occasion and I'm crazy about flowers. The bright red version is still a little too much identified with the celebration of a virgin birth or a visit from Santa Claus, but I really love every other color of the blooms most people think of as the Christmas plant.

This one sits on our dining room table tonight.

Solstice lights

Only now that my birthday has passed (even when quite old, late-December children sometimes remain pretty sensitive about their personal nativity celebratory rites) I can start to think about the pagan Saturnalia, the forest peoples' Yule or any of the other defiantly-non-commercial celebrations of the return of the sun. I think Festivus could well be included among those observances and entertainments.

I took the image above on this very cold, windy afternoon. It's a deliberately fuzzy representation of one of the most prominent modern manifestations of hoary early-winter tradition, the fully-lighted Rockefeller Center tree. (I prefer to think that any connection between it and Christian worship is pure invention). It's a pretty neat sight if you could forget almost everything around it right now. I couldn't, so I decided the shot had to be fuzzy - and dark. This huge dead tree's penultimate resting-place environment is not a pretty thing one week before Christmas.

Of course the deco buildings are pretty fabulous, but the several rows of security barricades set up around the tree (they're gaily painted red and green) and the offensive, vulgarly-omnipresent NBC visual promotions (even during the hours when their storefront studio lies empty) have at least temporarily erased the charm once associated, even in the last weeks of the year, with this wonderful midtown oasis. Cranky tourists and pushy shoppers (and big Christmas tchotchkes in the terraced Channel Gardens) only added to the ugliness today.

I haven't even mentioned the scary over-amplified "holiday music," which seems to be stressing out even the normally-unflappable pigeons around St. Patrick's and the Olympic Tower.

Alright, I'm now back home in my warm cave, so maybe I should be quiet and think lovely thoughts. Happy Solstice everyone, and many happy returns!

This page is an archive of entries in the Happy category from December 2004.

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