Urban Girl, Urban Daughter and Urban Father, Thanksgiving, Downtown Knoxville, November 2013
It seems to go faster every year. Time in general, of course, but also the duration of any event. We want the next event to happen before the one we are in is finished. Do we even notice what’s happening as we barrel towards the next thing? I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. I appreciate all the great gifts I have in my life and recognize that there is very little that I love that I’ve earned – the love of family and friends, as well as most things that matter aren’t the result of my own intelligence or hard work. They are gifts. I also enjoy the quiet, reflective nature of the day.
So, what do we do? We try to start Christmas on Thanksgiving Day. It’s as if we are saying that we have no time for quiet, no time for gratitude. And what are we really making way for? Not Christmas in any meaningful sense, but Black Friday, of course. Black Friday now starts before the Turkey grows cold. I guess given the choice of a quiet evening with family or a drunken orgy of materialism. Have I depressed you on a Monday morning? Sorry, about that.
As I’ve done for many years, I boycotted Black Friday, a day I like to think of as Thanksgiving redux. We enjoyed watching Urban Girl showing off her gymnastics moves at the gym before settling in for a nice family-styled afternoon. We worked a puzzle, watched some football and ate a little more of that Thanksgiving meal. Our fifth Thanksgiving as urban dwellers was a good one. I hope yours was, too.
And by the end of Thanksgiving Redux, we were ready to consider Christmas. Most of us walked to Krutch Park for the lighting of the Christmas Tree, while a few of our party had to see the end of the LSU/Arkansas game. And weren’t there some good games this weekend? At Krutch Park we found what I think may be the biggest crowd I’ve seen for this event.
We bought a flashing toy for Urban Girl and waded into the crowd. You can see from the photographs our spot wasn’t exactly spectacular. This is the kind of photograph you take when you are a short guy holding a four-year-old and standing in the back of a large crowd at night. I’m not sure we covered that in my photography class. Notice the cell phone photographs being taken. I think I counted 30. It is so 2013.
We heard from Mayor Rogero, DJs from a local station and from the CEO of Regal Cinemas. I hope the theater is doing as well as he portrays it to be. It certainly has contributed greatly to the resurgence of downtown. He gave a feel-good pep-talk while all the children waited patiently for Santa. Eventually Santa took the stage and then the countdown to the lighting of the tree began.
And then it lighted.
And then everyone was quiet.
It was strange. For one thing, we all expected ear-splitting fireworks which we’ve had for the last several years. They didn’t happen. No one on stage said anything. No music played. Fake snow spewed from one side of the park onto the people on the northern sidewalk. Finally, someone on stage said something and the crowd dispersed as a local singer and actor sang ‘Oh Holy Night.”
It seemed quite anticlimactic. It seems as soon as it lights someone should shout, “Merry Christmas” over the intercom. Or a festive Christmas song should blare from the PA. Or snow should spew from more than one spot. Or Santa call out to the crowd, “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas. Come on up here you crazy kids and sit in my lap!” Or something. It was odd.
I stopped by the skating rink which opened earlier that day. It was busy and it remained so the rest of the weekend. It’s a great thing to have downtown and I hope we keep it up. I do wish it was about twice as large and located somewhere other than the middle of Market Square. I know alternatives have been explored and nothing has seemed workable, but it does detract from the appearance of the square.
It also squeezes any events on the Market Square stage into a very confined space. That was the case for the Ho Ho Ho Down sponsored by WDVX. I saw Freddie there and cloggers were clogging the stage when I passed by. I walked up to Coldstream Market to see how they were doing and found them bustling. It appears second-floor retail is a viable option on Market Square.
So it was a good intro to Christmas. The tree on Krutch Park now shines brightly. Skaters are skating. Trees are lined with lights. Storefronts are looking festive. And people seemed to have an extra happiness in their stride. Welcome to Christmas in the City.