When younger, a part of my personal end-of-the-year tradition was consumer driven. The seasonal advertising circulars caused the Friday-after-Thanksgiving edition of the newspaper to swell to elephantine proportions. I recall spending an inordinate amount of time perusing the colorful photos of toys, circling the items that looked intriguing, and then moving on to the next circular.
Nothing much ever came of this child s version of reading the paper. Highlighting the items acted as a sort of catharsis to quench much of my childhood covetousness. Growing older changed the content of the activity more than the procedure. Rather than focusing on slot car sets and HO trains, I started circling stereo equipment.
In Europe I buried the urge to spread out colorful pages of advertisements. German toy stores don't grasp the economic benefits of distributing sixteen-page inserts of LEGO blocks. Circling black and white pictures of holiday fruits and vegetables I could barely pronounce just wasn't satisfying.
Dormant habits rush back to the surface, if given half a chance. The recent years in Washington have allowed me to indulge in the old pastime-exorcise material wants by circling them, and throwing them away. Lately the items circled have ratings in megahertz and gigabytes. Pixel resolution seems to be an influential factor, as well.
Thanksgiving morn ( "American" Thanksgiving, Chris reminds me to clarify.) I went to the local market, jonesing for this year s guide to Black Friday. (For the non-Americans, the Friday after Thanksgiving marks the opening of the holiday shopping period. Many stores hope to do enough business on that one day to get "in the black.") A busy Friday can guarantee profits. The local newspaper for Point Roberts only comes out once a month. The nearest hope, even though it is a country away, is the Bellingham Herald. The plan was to pick up a bursting-to-overflowing copy.
Sadly, no newspapers were delivered to this isolated part of the world on Thanksgiving. Four post 9-11 border crossings were too much. I managed to cope until Sunday, when I dragged Chris through customs to pick up a Sunday paper.
Another related vestigial activity has also reappeared. Shopping trips in December used to mean stealing away to the toy sections of department stores, and gazing longingly at the seasonal displays. Again, aspects of the behavior persist, but the focus changes. Or perhaps, lack of focus. These days I wander into drug stores and head over to the reading glasses display. Vanity is probably the reason fordenying myself glasses until I turn fifty. Will try to squint my way through the next few months.
Railroad right-of-ways are becoming bicycle paths. Chris and I managed to explore a few this past summer. From first-hand experience we can recommend the Galloping Goose around Victoria and the bike path that connects Sequim with Port Angeles, on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. We hope to explore several more next year. Don't be surprised if a sweaty, Lycra-clad couple pedals up to your door.
As for actual news: still struggling, still writing. Hope to have a couple of new books on juggling published next year. Getting the illustrations just right (or at all) has prevented them from coming out this year.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't recommend the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. We were fortunate to visit when pieces by Gregory Barsamian were on exhibit. His kinetic artwork is memorable. Happy Next Year!
copyright 2002 by Todd Strong
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