This is one of the times of the year I like the least: post-Christmas, post-New Year’s Eve. It’s always so anti-climactic and dull. The fabulous, candlelit holiday parties remain only as photos on your camera-phone and wine stains on your carpet. Glittery, shining Christmas decorations are banished to dark closets and a year of accompanying families of dust-bunnies under the bed. The homey, comforting aromas of cinnamon and apples, roasted turkey, gingerbread and warmed brandy are too quickly replaced by an undoubted, extra “wiggle” around the waist, and by buttons and buttonholes struggling in desperation to reunite. Torn-and-crumpled, colorful-and-metallic wrapping paper, ribbon and bows choke the recycling bins; and, most shocking of all, the the cheery, red envelopes in your mailbox are quickly replaced by greetings from Visa and Mastercard. It’s “show me da money” time! Quite plainly, this time of year just sucks!
In NYC, the post-holiday blahs are particularly a let-down. No longer is the Empire State Building illuminated in its party dress of red-and-green. The Macy’s windows are boarded up while the mechanical-wonderland displays are dismantled into an eery collection of puppet heads, arms and legs cast into storage boxes. The millions of strings of twinkling lights, though still up, have gone black, leaving the awful impression of a city wrapped in barbed wire. The tourists in their childlike wonder have been replaced with the grumpy, daily commuters, unhappy to be back at work. Most depressing, though, are the piles of discarded Christmas trees, stacked like dessicated corpses, on the sidewalks. It’s enough to drive a Manhattanite to drink. (But alas, the Sugarplum, Toasted-Gingerbread and Spiced Red Apple martinis have all been taken of the menu!)
This Christmas was the first Christmas I spent away from my family in Dallas, which was odd and a bit melancholy. Luckily, Ralph and I were cheered and comforted by the visits of his children and grandchildren to New York City. We put up a Christmas tree for the first time since moving to the city 7 years ago; and little Jackson and sister Emily helped us decorate it. We sipped hot cider and frosted Christmas cupcakes. Nothing makes the holidays sparkle like the laughter and wonder of little kids! When they all left to return to Texas, we missed them terribly; and the post-holiday blahs began. If it weren’t for the remaining glitter we keep finding on our floors, clothes and noses, I’d really be down in the dumps! (And I’m sure as heck not taking our Christmas tree down until I’m absolutely shamed into doing so! I can see me now, sneaking it out to the curb under cover of darkness in March or April!)
I’m digging in my heels, determined to hang on to the holiday season as long as I can. I seek out the last holiday displays left standing; and in a city so commercial that it’s already marketing Valentine’s Day (!), I’m shocked when I actually find one: the 29th annual “Wreath Interpretations” exhibit at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. I rush over as quickly as I can; as the exhibit is nearly about to come to a close. This yearly exhibit is a celebration of the wreath, ancient symbol of renewed life through the winter, but with a “twist”. Local artisans create stunning wreaths from non-traditional media, which are displayed on the walls of the old Arsenal building and offered for sale to the public. If there’s one thing that can absolutely lift me up and make me hopeful again, it’s surrounding myself with the creative spirit of others. Whether it’s artwork, gourmet cooking or live performance, (did I mention we took in 4 Broadway shows PLUS the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in the space of 12 days?!), it’s the best medicine for me. “Wreath Interpretations” did not disappoint. Here, I discovered beautiful, quirky Christmas wreaths made from unusual materials as varied as chopsticks, plush toy animals, cooking utensils, antique clothespins, champagne corks, dollar bills, etc. My favorite was a large one made from used paintbrushes, the bristles of each caked with dried paint in a myriad of colors. I walked from wreath to wreath, taking in their beauty, imagining the artists creating each work, wondering from where they drew their inspiration. It was just what the doctor ordered.
I make one last pass by the paintbrush wreath, intensely drawn to it, and wondering what lucky dog forked up the $800 for it before anyone else could. Not that I’d dare spend that much money on a wreath recycling old paintbrushes; but its creator has definitely inspired me. I smile and nod my head in gratitude at the wreath; and I decide right then and there that I’m going to embark upon a new, creative activity – something I have yet to explore. Refreshed and with a big smile on my face, I pass back through the grand, old building with its creaking wood floors and its grand, crystal chandelier, back out into the cold, grey sky hanging heavily above Central Park. My creative juices begin to flow; and I’m thinking ahead to the weekend. I’m reminded that I’ve always wanted to take up the art of weaving. Visions of warp yarns and weft yarns dance in my head…and I’ve completely forgotten I was in the midst of those darned, post-holiday blahs.