Blue Christmas

This year, it seems I’ve been remiss about showing you the November shop windows in downtown Keene. Exactly one year ago, I showed you the always spectacular Christmas display at Creative Encounters, an art-supply and frame shop on Main Street in downtown Keene where I’ve taken lots of pictures in the past. Earlier last November, I showed you the marvelous mannequins at Miranda’s Verandah, another of my favorite photo subjects.

True blue cookware

Whereas last year, Reggie and I regularly took two walks downtown–one in the morning and another in the evening–thereby giving me plenty of chance to window-shop, this year Reggie and I have been sticking closer to home. Now that Reggie is one year older and that much slower, we still take two dog-walks a day…but these slow-puttering, long-sniffing strolls usually center around our immediate neighborhood rather than venturing all the way downtown and back. When you walk at the speed of an old dog, you learn to measure your walks by depth rather than length.

Yesterday morning, however, Reggie and I walked all the way downtown and back, taking our time and making a point to check out the sights along the way. It was before sunrise, so Main Street’s illuminated shop windows were particularly eye-catching.

True blue Christmas tree

Since last year, several of the shops downtown have changed, or at least shifted. Cool Jewels has gone out of business, its colorful facade now fronting an empty store. Pocketful of Rye has moved to Main Street from its previous spot at the Colony Mill, as has Your Kitchen Store, which moved into the space left vacant when Cheshire Music moved to the Center at Keene. Walking downtown this November feels like a game of musical chairs, with familiar faces suddenly sitting in new places. Yesterday I was happy to discover that Your Kitchen Store features Christmas window displays that rival those of their neighbors, this year’s theme featuring stacks of blue bakeware and a blue-illumined Christmas tree decorated with shiny utensils and kitchen accessories: gift ideas for the chef who has almost everything.

Free!

It’s not easy being a Christmas tree. The day after Christmas, I saw the first of several cast-off evergreens set out as trash as I walked Reggie around the block; this morning, I saw one tree tossed on a local lawn, as if taking one’s erstwhile Tannenbaum to the trash was too tiring a trip. At the Trader Joe’s in West Newton this afternoon, they set out a bin of free Christmas greenery, the leftover wreaths, boughs, and evergreen garland that didn’t sell. As is true in the aftermath of Keene’s annual Pumpkin Festival, Christmas evergreens quickly go from cherished to trashed. I’m glad the lifespan of a Festive Holiday Tree is longer than that of a Christmas tree, with the one here in Waban staying illuminated well into February last year. As soon as you look beyond Christmas, you can find all sorts of festive winter reasons to keep your evergreens around, illuminated, and out of the trash.

Maybe I’m in no hurry to see folks cast off their Christmas greenery because I arrived so late to the season. Typically, I don’t have time for Christmas prep until my fall semester is nearly or entirely done…which means I finished the last of my Christmas shopping yesterday. Luckily, my family is used to gifts from “Last Minute Lori” arriving late…and since I’ll be going to Ohio to see my family in a couple weekends, I bought some time (without fooling anyone) by saying I’d “hand deliver” several items.

Cast off

My own procrastinative tendencies notwithstanding, though, I’ve always preferred to keep Christmas decorations up longer than most, mostly because it always was a tradition in my family to keep our Christmas tree until my birthday, January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany. In the old days, Christmas didn’t last one day; it lasted twelve, the “Twelve Days of Christmas” being the time it took for the Three Kings to arrive in Bethlehem to visit the newborn Jesus. Even today, holiday travel is a bitch, so it’s no wonder that men arriving on camels and relying on a star for navigation would have taken longer than the average lifespan of a Christmas tree to reach their destination.

I mention all of this by way of raising two logistical points. First, one of the items I’ll be hand-delivering to relatives in Ohio in a couple weeks is my 2008 calendar, which you can view here and buy here. Second, I’ve been remiss in announcing the upcoming Festival of the Trees which I’ll be hosting here on January 1st. You can send your tree-related links to me at zenmama (at) gmail (dot) com with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line, or you can use this automated submission form. The official deadline for submissions is Sunday, December 30, but we all know “Last Minute Lori” isn’t fooling anyone with her fine talk of deadlines. I’ll be posting the Festival at some point on New Year’s Day, so please submit your links soon!