Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Here in Celebration and the surrounding environs, signs of the holiday season are springing up like the weeds that love to invade my flower beds. Halloween was barely upon us before the first Christmas decorations popped up in store windows. Of course, it was the same in Chicago, but here we have an extra layer: The holiday tourist attractions. Driving by the Gaylord Palms hotel, our eyes were assailed with the giant "ICE!" sign. Ads are everywhere for the Dixie Stampede's special Christmas show.

At Disney World, the switch was thrown on Monday for the annual Osborne light extravaganza. This year, playing on last's year viral internet sensation (the video of the house with lights choreographed to Trans Siberian Orchestra music), Disney's lights are now dancing. The millions of twinkling bulbs will now perform to musical strains. That should be really cool...for about five minutes. I hope they have a plan in place for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment for the poor Cast Members who are subjected to it for hours at a stretch.

I am dying to see the Osborne lights, so one of these evenings I am going to play hooky from my online counseling work and run over to see them. But my favorte Disney activity doesn't start until after Thanksgiving: The Candlelight Processional. It's a beautiful retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, with a live band and wonderful, stirring music sung by a chorus of cast members and high school students.

This year, there are several narrators who I would like to see. We saw Gary Sinise before, but I wouldn't mind a repeat performance. I'd love to see Cuba Gooding Jr.'s debut this year, as well as Neil Patrick Harris (although I wonder if the Christian fundamentalists who get so bent out of shape over Gay Days will be there to protest because an openly gay person would dare to tell the Christmas story...they seem to forget that Jesus was all about love and acceptance).

In conjunction with the Processional, I love to stick around for the special holiday version of Illuminations. At the end, they do a special show to the strains of "Let There Be Peace on Earth," capped with an explosion of fireworks that literally shakes the ground. Breathtaking!

'Round about that time, it will start snowing nightly here in Celebration. I just love that event...I walk downtown almost every night to marvel at the spectacle of kids swarming Market Street to play in the soapy pseudo-snowflakes. There is something about it that underscores why I chose to move to Celebration. It's just so touristy and surreal and cool. I live in the place that people go out of their way to visit! I can see the snowfall every single night! How cool is that?

For two years, I've been miffed that when Lexin took over from Disney, they changed the musical accompaniment and eliminated "Merry Christmas Everyone" by Shakin' Stevens. It was the perfect song...I mean, look at the first few lines:

Snow is falling all around me, children playing, having fun,
It's the season, love and understanding, merry Christmas everyone,
Time for parties and celebration...

Time for Celebration, indeed! Oh well, this year I have an MP3 player, so while everyone else is subjected to the tinny strains of the lame current line-up, my ears will be filled with the appropriate tune.

But while it looks like Christmas in the populated environs, it's hard to tell that we're only two weeks away from December out in Lake Louisa State Park. Back in Illinois, I would be counting the last precious days of horseback riding before ice and snow make the trails too trecherous and the wind chill factor drops below the tolerance point. Here in Florida, this is prime riding time! Nice and cool, and virtually no bugs, at least as compared to the swarms in the sweltering summertime.

I'm sure that the trees are skeletal by now in the Cook County Forest Preserve District where I used to ride. Out here, there are a few seasonal skeletons, but the stately pines are still shrouded in green and the ground cover is dotted with flowers and berries in goreous shades of white, yellow, pink, purple and red. The orange groves are dotted with brightly colored bounty. In Florida, winter doesn't make an end, but rather a beginning...the kick-off of the prime riding season. I've already had Figment out for a couple of four and a half hour jaunts. Poor horse! Little does he know that it's just a taste of many long winter journeys to come.

Once Thanksgiving comes, the time-speed will kick into warp gear and Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye. Every year, I can help but feel melancholy on December 26th...such a massive build-up, and then the rug is jerked out from under you. No more Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men, just back to the humdrum regular rythmn of life. But that's okay, as I suspect that the wait won't be nearly as long for next year. Since Christmas started before Halloween this year, I'm laying my bets that we can stretch is to as early as Labor Day in 2007...and maybe even kick it off in tandem with 4th of July in 2008!

Ask an Expert - Visit my Virtual Office at Kasamba

No comments: