Christmas In Chillicothe

Chillicothe held their annual Christmas kick-off event in downtown this weekend. I met a friend yesterday for some browsing, holiday fun and good food.

We met Father Christmas and his wife Holly. I have known this gentleman for many years and his wife is a talented mural artist whose work always makes me smile.

It was freezing cold so we stayed indoors, as much as possible including a stop at High Five Cakes for hot chocolate and a sweet treat. Tis nutcracker is one of two outside their front door.

Even the trolley was all decked out in Christmas decor.

There was a cold wind and the shops were crowded but it was a nice way to say hello to what is sure to be a busy holiday season. I left before all the lights were on in the city park so I’ll have to go back another night to enjoy all the pretty Christmas decorations!

All Aboard: Holiday Train

If you’re near downtown Columbus, Ohio during the holidays, don’t miss the model train display at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. It’s free to view and absolutely fabulous.

All of the buildings are modeled after actual churches, homes and businesses in two small Bavarian towns. They’re made with natural plant materials including bark, seeds, moss and pine cones. Most took weeks to build but the castle and waterfall took over three months and the cathedral took over ten months.

The castle alone stands eight feet tall while the waterfall pumps 600 gallons of water per hour. Model trains run on about 280 feet of track while there is 600 square feet of “snow” covered land.

There’s even a red covered bridge.

It gets reimagined and reconfigured every year so it’s worth visiting even if you’ve seen it before.

It is magnificent.

Be sure to walk upstairs and view it from above too.

It’s up through January 8. The library has an attached parking garage where one hour parking is free. The Main Library is located at 96 South Grant Ave. If you visit, pop by the nearby Columbus Museum of Art to view the Van Gogh exhibition happening now or swing over to German for lunch and a stroll. If you’re headed to Franklin Park Conservatory, it’s literally just down the street.

Good News and Kindness

My friend Nichola and I cut a deal earlier this week. Every day through the new year we will each find a positive news story and share it with the other on Facebook.

This is an important exercise for a couple of reasons. Facebook is cluttered with bad news and bickering. Right now it’s how I learn about illness and death in my own community. For the last few years I have gained insight into the hearts and minds of neighbors who I never dreamed could be so cruel. It’s not an especially pleasant place some days.

By exchanging happy stories we are brightening each other’s day but also maybe giving someone else something happy to consider. More importantly, we are actively retraining our brains to look for happy, uplifting news. If you’re looking for a white car, you’ll only see white cars. If you’re only looking for good news, that’s what you’ll see and what you’ll seek.

People like to blame the media for a lot of things that are wrong in the world. As consumers we must also take some responsibility for all the negativity. Sadly, news agencies are just looking for clicks like everyone else. There’s a reason why all the headlines are negative. It’s not that nothing good ever happens. It’s that people tend to click the negative headlines more than the good ones.

In other words, if you want to see more good news, you better start supporting good news on the internet.

Finding good news has been hard. So far, my choices have included Madix the cat who was found nine days after he was thought dead in the Kentucky tornados. Then there was a feature story on a wealthy business man who plays Secret Santa every Christmas. CBS has chronicled his kindness every year, honoring his desire to remain anonymous as he gives away $30,000 to strangers in increments of $100.

A favorite from Nichola was about a man who ran Christmas lights from his home to that of a neighbor who was struggling. He wanted her to know they are still connected despite the isolation caused by the pandemic. Pretty soon the entire neighborhood got involved and lights began to connect homes up and down several streets.

The good stuff is out there. You just have to go looking for it.

Speaking of looking for things, I nearly missed out on something great in real life yesterday. I was out running errands and was driving when I noticed a red piece of paper threatening to blow off the corner of my windshield. Someone had left a red envelope on my red car and I completely missed it.

The envelope contained an unsigned Christmas card with a $5 Walmart gift card.

It made my day.

It’s wonderful how a small gesture can completely turn your day around. I have no idea who left it or how many others my Secret Santa gifted yesterday but I’m grateful.

I’m also a little disappointed in myself. Had I been thinking, I would have left this gift on someone else’s vehicle. Receiving was wonderful but giving would have felt even better.

How nice would the world be if we all could make an effort each day to spread whatever goodness we can afford in whatever way we can manage.

Happy Christmas Eve, my friends.

Yoctangee Park At Christmas

Last night found me in downtown Chillicothe so I took a quick detour into Yoctangee Park. It has been a city park since 1875 but got its name in the 1890s. Yoctangee is the Native American word for paint, a reference to the skin and clothing pigments they once used in this area.

That bit of history isn’t all that relevant to Christmas except the festive lights that currently illuminate the park reminded me of the meaning of that name.

They have just a few lights this year but it’s free to drive through and quite pleasant. In fact, all of the historic downtown is worth a look as it’s all dressed up for the holidays. Not to mention all the shops and restaurants would be thrilled to have your business.

These two images are my favorite from the park.

This one in particular is meaningful as the lake at this park is known for its swans.

It wasn’t that long ago that this historic district was dead on a typical Tuesday night. It’s amazing to see how it has grown, to enjoy the lights, have to stop for pedestrians and see restaurants packed with guests.

I have written some about downtown Chillicothe. Try the Search box to find more about this great town.

Musings on Christmas Memories In A Time Of Sorrow

Santa at Dogwood Pass in 2017.

On Saturday, I spent much of the day baking cookies at my parents’ house. Afterward, we watched Christmas movies while a kitty cat purred in my lap.

Their house is always warm and it was cold outside when I left. The shock of cold and the starry sky reminded me of a Christmas Eve long ago when we spent an evening with my grandparents. I was small and all the adults kept talking about how a certain little girl needed to go home to bed so Santa Claus could come.

The colorfully lit tree was decorated with an assortment of ornaments accumulated over time and I sat under that tree to open a gift from my grandparents. I don’t recall the gift but I do remember the little candy dish filled with old fashioned hard candy that you buy at the store. I remember the laughter among adults and the warmth of that old house.

The memories made me smile as I hummed Bing Crosby’s White Christmas on the way to the porch.

This year is much different. Most of the people who provided the laughter and warmth of that home are gone now. Many who are left are too young to remember those people and that place.

This year has been haunted by hardship and loss for so many. This will be our first Christmas without my aunt Maryann. Another family member recently received a terrible diagnosis. My great aunt Marcella died over the weekend. She was the last of her generation in my grandma’s family. A college friend lost three immediate family members just days apart during this season of cheer. We have lost longtime family friends including one who just passed on Sunday. My mother is coping with injuries from her fall at Walmart over the weekend but is probably lucky to be alive.

Things aren’t going well and it’s a far cry from the picture perfect Bing Crosby moments of my childhood. It gets harder to be joyful at Christmas as you age because you’re more aware of all the troubles of the world around you.

However, as I write this I keep glancing at something written on a post-it note that I stuck to my desk months ago. Little did I know it would come in handy today. It simply says “Gratitude turns what you have into enough.”

It isn’t always easy but I’m choosing to be grateful for the memories and grateful for the time we had with all those who have left empty seats at our table. I’m grateful for the people and all the good in my life today. And when you look at it that way, it still hurts but maybe it hurts a little less.