I’ve grown to love the day after Thanksgiving almost as much as Thanksgiving itself – and NOT because of “Black Friday.” I hate the whole Black Friday mindset and stay away from the malls and big box stores until the mania simmers down.
On this Friday what I enjoy is a good Christmas walk. Today Mom, the Hooligans, and I went over to the nearby town of Milford, Ohio, for their celebration. We wound in and out of gift and antique shops, J.Hooligan sampled free cookies and candy everywhere we went, and we took a chilly horse-drawn tram ride around a couple blocks of the town.
About 20 years ago, within a range of three or four years either way, I often did house sitting over the Thanksgiving holidays, which was fun. On the day after Thanksgiving, my habit was to indulge in a huge meal of leftovers that Mom had sent home with me, then set out for the Milford Christmas walk. There were more little antique sh0ps then, I think, and I almost always found a trinket or two to put back as a Christmas or St. Nick gift.
At some point we added the Miamitown Christmas walk to our Thanksgiving holiday plans. Miamitown was close to where Mom, my stepdad, and Diamondqueen lived (in a community called Blue Jay, about halfway between Harrison and Miamitown). The Christmas walk ran from Friday evening through daytime and evening Saturday, but we tried to go either Friday or Saturday when it was dark and the streets were lit with milk jug luminaria.
I reveled in it. It was crowded and spirited. You had to fight your way through the various shops – sometimes it was better to do “serious” shopping another time – but there was lots to see, and people were in a holiday mood. There were free fire engine rides, carriage rides, an arts and craft show, a live nativity at one of the churches, and entertainment at various spots up and down the main street.
When Mom and my stepfather moved from the Miamitown area to Loveland in 2001, it became a lot harder to attend the Miamitown Christmas walk. Mom and I did make the 45-minute drive a couple of times this decade, but it didn’t feel the same. Part of it was simply not being “of” the community any more, but the town was changing as well as shops had begun to disappear.
About a month ago, Mom and I drove through Miamitown on our way to an antique mall in a nearby community. It was sad to see how few of the old shops were still open, favorite haunts we visited often throughout the year ten to twenty years ago. We wondered what the Christmas walk was like now, with fewer businesses to visit, and whether the event still has its old hubbub and good nature.
I hope so. But there was no question of trying to visit this year to see for ourselves. It would have been too sad and empty-feeling compared to the old years, what with all the “for rent” signs in front of empty storefronts, or buildings now housing other kinds of businesses rather than antiques and gifts, and my stepdad long dead, not to mention his friend and neighbor at the old house, who sold some of his handmade wood figures and ornaments at a bazaar in the basement of the little brick church by the cemetery.
Often it’s better to enjoy memories of what was and not pursue the past in the present. My memories of the Miamitown, Ohio, Christmas walk are vivid and treasured. I’d just as soon keep them that way.