Thanksgiving, Then...

November 24, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

This Thanksgiving Day, I hope you're enjoying family, or friends, or both.

There is always much for which to be thankful, even when times are troubled. If your heart isn't feeling full of gratitude, go outside. Walk among the trees. Look at the sky. Listen to the birds. 

Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.
Louie Schwartzberg

After the Macy's parade, a special meal and maybe some football, what's next? Shopping? Not for me, thanks. I'm content to stay outside and enjoy the sights, because now - officially - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. 

Sidenote: many artists have recorded that song, but do you know who wrote it? The pride of Mason City, Iowa: Meredith Willson.

If you don't recognize his name, Willson was an accomplished musician who is probably best known for having written the book, music and lyrics for The Music Man, winner of five Tony Awards - including Best Musical. The original Broadway production ran for 1,375 performances. (Meredith Willson also wrote the fight song for my alma mater, the University of Iowa. Go Hawks!)

Back when Willson wrote his Christmas song, the "candy canes and silver lanes that glow" didn't show up at the glistening five and ten until after well after Thanksgiving. Now retail proceeds directly from Halloween to Christmas. For some even that won't do. The super-express lane goes from Back-to-School straight to Jingle Bells. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. 

Charlie Brown first despaired over how commercialized Christmas had become - in 1965. What must he think now? Good grief.

Happily, many municipalities choose restraint, waiting until after Thanksgiving tables have been cleared before ushering in the Christmas season with tree lightings, parades and visits from Santa. Inside and OutInside and OutInside, a Christmas wreath decorates one of the windows in the Quincy Market Rotunda; outside stands the Custom House Tower.

Boston, Massachusetts
This will be a big weekend for such festivities, which for me can only mean one thing: grab the camera. It's Christmas Project time.

Part cityscape, part landscape, and part street photography, it began as a lark in 2010 when I decided to head into Boston the day after Thanksgiving to photograph the big Faneuil Hall Christmas tree. Me - the woman who avoids Black Friday like the plague. Christmas in the city? Sure! But not over Thanksgiving weekend.

I don't know what prompted the temporary change of heart, but something interesting happened that day.

Almost immediately, I was hooked on the idea of photographing the Christmas season. I returned to Quincy Market a second time that same weekend before setting my sights on festive scenes across New Hampshire's Seacoast.

Then...heartbreak. My father died unexpectedly. 

The evening before he passed, I'd been in Greenland, New Hampshire to photograph the town's little gazebo decorated and illuminated for Christmas. Afterward, I phoned my dad in Chicago for our usual "how's things?" chat. Sixteen hours later he was gone. Just like that.

Returning to New England after his funeral, I felt compelled to pick up where I'd left off. My father bought me my first SLR camera as a college graduation gift, and it was photography, in the form of this nascent little holiday project, that lifted my spirits following his death. 

Back in Boston a week before Christmas to shoot more holiday vignettes, it was clear this self-assignment had legs. I was pretty sure I'd be doing it again the following year. After all, there's only so much ground a person can cover in a few short weeks! 

13 seasons later, it lives on.

After moving away from the northeast the project became more complicated. Now it almost always requires significant travel.

Care to guess where I'll be shooting this year?

Two locations have been selected, both in the western United States. I'll be on site at the first one next week. Weather permitting, the second is scheduled for mid-December. 

I'll give you some clues:

Location 1

  • pucks
  • rebel 
  • the meadow
  • XXI

Location 2

  • dome
  • gem
  • bronco
  • Ada

Happy Thanksgiving!                                                                                                                                                                         



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