This is the time of year I think of carousels. Of the real carousels I have ridden and the figurative ones that I often feel I am riding, perhaps without full consent. That sensation of whirling about on harried days filled with far too much to do and see–I am a bit breathless and overwhelmed. But also a bit in awe of the sparkling lights and the endlessly looped music of the season. Yes, the holiday carousels…
I remember the first time I rode a carousel. It was a whirling delight of shiny gold, wooden horses, and jangling music. It was 1974 and I was at the Spokane Expo. My introduction to carousels, tied up with all the other sights, sounds and tastes of a World’s Exposition imparted to me all that is magical about visiting new places. My parents gave me a chance to experience the exotic lands of the world via the hundreds of booths and food vendors. And with the price of a golden token, they allowed me a trip into the magical world of make-believe, a place I was not inclined to often venture as a child.
A carousel makes a mighty fine portal into that place where a child can feel joyous, yes?
Over the years I have ridden on other carousels. Mister Soandso knew I’d want to ride the carousel in New York’s Central Park. The carousel near me at Jantzen Beach has consumed more than its fair share of my quarters. And I’ve even hauled my now adult-sized self aboard the Spokane carousel since moving back to this coast.
And each time I am reminded that every child, regardless of physical age, requires moments of suspension — of their disbelief, their worries, their day-to-day activities that tether them in the here and the now.
I think that during this Winter Break, my kids may need to spend some quality time with their mom, looking at the world from the rising and falling wooden back of a circus horse, held in place by a golden pole, but still able to transport its rider to all sorts of magical places. And for only the cost of a token.
Perhaps, both my children and I need to start a new holiday tradition — starting our Christmastide with a carousel ride.
May this time of year, filled with conflicting thoughts of what is longed for, still held, and what has been lost, be a time instead of peace and joy. And may it be so with each of you.
The following link (The Martin Christmas Card) is my annual electronic holiday greeting. When Mister Soandso and I started out, I would write and mail our cards on the first days of my winter break. If we travelled for the holiday, I’d mail them from various points along the way. Eventually our life evolved and our holiday greetings did as well. There were the years I wrote a Christmas letter from the perspective of our first dog, and then the period of photo cards chronicalling the aging of our children. But then, the need to do something new came to Mister Soandso. And so for the past four years he’s been filming the kids performing to a Christmas song.
I hope this holiday tradition, as well as so many others old and new, makes you smile. After all, smiling is a good thing. Right up there with carousel rides.