Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Merry Christmas To All (Back Home)

It's funny, but only a few holidays get to me since being away from my old hometown of Whitman, Massachusetts.  I mean, I enjoy New Year's eve, but it's not what I'd refer to as a nostalgic time.  Nor is my birthday, nor most of the other holidays.  No, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the ones that still get to me...

Is part of this because I'm getting older?  Sure, that has to have something to do with it.  And, is it because of some long ago memories I have from childhood?  Ya, I think so.  For, while something like birthdays were always made to be special for my siblings and me, it's still those two holidays that tend to get me feeling kinda homesick (or something like that).

Anyway, while I'm sure to get back to some memories a little later, let me share something else that warmed my heart over recent years.  What I'm getting at is a special night that now takes place late each December in downtown Whitman.  It's called Winterfest, a time for the locals to celebrate the winter holidays.

Now, I shot this video the very last time I was able to attend, and almost 2-years before I followed a different dream that took me to Florida.  Have a look, and I'll see you on the flip-side...

I'll bet that those who have been away for awhile still recognized some things, or some downtown stores.  Interestingly, a few spots have stayed the same for years, while there always seem to be some storefronts that change on a yearly basis.

Duval's remains an anchor in the same location where my little sis and my sister-in-law worked at the snackbar as teens (back in the 70's?)  And, while I might be wrong, I believe the fourth generation of Duvals now works at the store/pharmacy.  John's Hair Salon has been around in the center for quite awhile now -- I remember John opening the place as merely a kid, probably just out of hairdressing school.  Then, while most of the bank buildings are still there, the majority have changed names -- like 232 times.  Gone is Hovey's -- where I'd get "nickel Cokes", the five-and-ten, Freeman's Hardware, Jouberts Clothing, Whitman News, and Western Auto.
Is it just me who remembers a lot of the store clerks from those establishments being kinda mean looking?  Heck, I never thought to steal a thing in my life, yet some of the old folks who worked in those stores followed me (and everyone else) around like we were the reincarnation of Charles Manson.  The guy who ran Western Auto was like that. And how about the guy who watched over the place from up on a balcony at the five-and-ten -- with the two grumpy ladies down on the floor seeming like they didn't want to be there.  In reality, I'm probably way off base, and they were really nice people.  But that's how things looked through the eyes of a 10-year old, a 12-year old, whatever.
As for me, I'm missing all of it -- even the grumpies, but only for the holiday season.  Hey, take a look (down below) at what I'm seeing from where I currently sit.  It's about 80-degrees outside today, while I understand it's going to be a little cooler tomorrow, Christmas Day, at something closer to 70-ish.  So, no, we won't be having a "white Christmas" this year -- LOL.
Speaking of the surroundings...  I am thrilled that Brenda loves the wildlife here as much as I.  We watched a duck hatch just one egg after a seeming forever stretch, and we've seen that little duckling grow from not daring to leave its mom to being hardly discernible from the other adult ducks.  Crazy looking birds abound here, while I get jealous that the mockingbirds seem to constantly sing to Brenda.  We had a gator captured from the shown pond last spring, and more recently, while walking Raggs very late at night, I played a game of stare-down with a pretty big coyote, that was no more than a hundred feet from us.  He finally sprinted away, but...
If you want to stay active -- other than shoveling snow, this is the place to be.  For example, we now take walks after dinner every night, we take countless shorter walks with Raggs, and during the warmer months we're exercising daily in the pool.
Thankfully, most of the Chighisola Clan has moved to Florida, which makes it possible for us to now gather with family for festive occasions at one home or another.  As I recounted in my earlier post -- about Thanksgiving ("Memories of Back Home in Tiny Whitman"), we spent that big day at my sister Denise's house.  This time we get to all come together again -- from Brenda to my mom to my brother John's and Denise's families -- at Donna's house a little north of here. 

Louis ChighisolaFor me, the only tough parts are going to be the once in awhile flashbacks of some childhood memories.  And, it's going to be the fleeting thoughts of one or another Christmas past.  Once again, dad will be missing, for the 6th Christmas.  For a first time, though, my brother Lou won't be around to brighten things -- with his wry smiles and sense of humor.

Then, yet another funny thing, and something a lot of my older Whitman friends might appreciate...  Although we love our families, kids are what tend to make Christmas extra-special.  I experienced that when I was one of them, but it was just as much fun to witness the excitement and anticipation in my son and then later my grandson.  (Actually -- and God bless him for being this way, at 26-years old, my grandson still acts like a kid at Christmas.)

Come to think of it, life goes on, doesn't it.  I mean, it's easy to get caught up in daily "things", like about 24/7, and about 360-ish days per year.  It's those couple of special dates, however, that tend to bring on a melancholy feeling.

I don't know...  Have I struck a chord with any of you?  Or, must you get a little older -- or move further from home -- in order for different kinds of things to matter?  Let me know, huh?  I love hearing from old friends.  

First, some of the ducks sit on their eggs just off to the right of the walkway on our way to the clubhouse.  There's the expectant mom sitting on an egg down below, and then the no-longer-a-baby duckling swimming behind.her/his mom.

That gator they pulled out of our pond was a big sucker, at what the wildlife people measured as 9' 6".

And below is a pic of exactly what that coyote looked like -- ugh.  It was about 1:30am and dark when we came face to face.  But I saw that rascal well enough under a street light to know it was a coyote -- looking just like this one -- staring back at me.

That Thanksgiving Day article on "Memories of Back Home in Tiny Whitman" was one of my most popular, so maybe you'd like to take a look.