Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dickens of a Time

This past weekend was the designated weekend of our community Dickens Celebration. This fairy-tale event happens each year during the first weekend of December. The folk wisdom is that this weekend will be the coldest weather we will have had thus far in the year. I dressed for the weather – light snow – but not for the temperature and had to walk home mid-morning to change into warmer, less fashionable, clothes.

Cold means different things to each of us. The vendors standing outside on the sidewalk in freezing cold have one description of “cold” – many spent the year making their special craft to sell and this opportunity is one of the best to reach an appreciative audience. Cold to others, such as the Kiwanis Club to which I belong, means that more customers will want the clam chowder that we sell. A quick review of the fund-raising vendors showed that our soup was the best priced of all choices. We ran out by 1PM and disappointed those who came late. After waiting all year for the soup, they will have to wait until next year. One customer told me he will come to our stand first next year so he is sure to get a cup of the soup.

Aside from the cold, this weekend offers friends from years past opportunity to reconnect – greet with hugs (a bit of additional warmth of just for a second), laugh, catch up on recent family happenings. Even though this was just my second year, I had people to talk to that I had not visited with during the year and several stories collected over the year to share. I saw Marcy and we talked of having lunch together; I will call her after the beginning of the year and make the lunch happen. There was a peace march, led by Quakers; a tree lighting ceremony in the town square – the lights having been replaced after vandals cut all electric lines during a night “prank;” and local churches offered hymn sings. The light covering of snow capped off the storybook images.

Reflecting on this weekend, I think we yearn for times when life was easier. Cold, shared stories and an old town atmosphere are inviting. So very inviting that visitors drive from New Jersey, Canada, Vermont, Maryland and Pittsburgh to spend this weekend in the mountain town. Visions of sugarplums dancing in our collective heads epitomize this experience. This event lives in the memories of those who organize and those planning a weekend retreat to Wellsboro Penna next year.

Reality intruded on Sunday morning when I drove to church through gray slush and cold and saw the fairy-tale town littered with trash as our borough turned back to real life struggles faced by our community and members of my own congregation where too many do not have sufficient warmth or a job or transportation to get to a job if there was one.

Life is harsh in this community for some, a fairy tale retirement for others. At this time of realized dreams, may the peace march be effective and the jobs program be reworked so more can be employed and may the government home financing programs reach those who only want a home of their own for Christmas this year.

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