Monday, December 17, 2012

Events: A very full calendar this year!

As I mentioned in my last post, this year I am making up for lost time, event attendance wise.
Salt Lake City goes all out with concerts, shows, exhibits, and events all throughout December.
Best of all...most of the events are free.
It feels like a non-stop city wide party here!
In order to not miss a thing, I clip out the event descriptions from the newspaper's event calendar and tape them to the appropriate day on my calendar.   Some days there are three items taped.

The first event I attended was held Sunday December 1st at the Salt Lake City Library.  The write up said there would be an interfaith panel discussion held in the library auditorium, followed by a Diwali program.

Huh.  I said to myself.  Probably going to be a dry panel discussion followed by some lame-o librarian giving a power point show about Diwali.

I really had no idea what Diwali is all about; but maybe there would be some Indian cookies or something.  I had to go to the library off I went.

The panel discussion actually lasted 2 1/2 hours!
I only caught the last half hour and am still kicking myself for missing the rest of it.
There was a guy from Brigham Young U., with a Phd in Mormonism, a B'hai lady, a woman Rabbi, the head of the Catholic Cathedral here, an Islamic scholar and a Phd in Indian religion, plus one other person that I didn't figure out who she was.
When I got there they were taking questions from the audience and the questions!
Good stuff.
I loved the Indian religion scholar who explained that in all faiths one must sometimes refer to the Mysterious God Clause, or what he called a MGC.
Everyone on the panel grabbed a pen and jotted that down.
MGC...gotta remember that one when asked about part of religion that escapes explanation.
After they wrapped up everyone in the audience (about a 75 people) was invited to go downstairs for refreshments, and were invited to return for the Diwali program which would start in about 15 minutes.
Ah HA!  I thought to myself.
Indian treats for sure!
I was disappointed.
There were just plain old regular store bought cookies and fruit juices for punch.

I was SO wrong about what the program would be like.
It wasn't a power point program.
It was a TWO HOUR LONG dance and song fest, with Indian children dancing and reciting prayers.

Their costuming was so pretty and it was so cute to watch their parents jocking to get pictures of their kids.
I am one of those "one way to heaven" type people, but I do appreciate that parental love is found in all religions.

I was really surprised to see the LDS scholar participating in lighting the Diwali lamp.
One of the sari dressed women explained Diwali as the festival celebrating the return of one of the Indian gods after his lengthy mysterious disappearances, after which he returned and defeated an evil ruler.
Everyone lights lights to celebrate that good conquered evil.
The "mythical" (the speaker's word) was born in a specific year centuries ago.
My brain tripped on that...a mythical being has an actual birthday?
Sounds like a good story to me.
I like good stories.
I just don't worship the characters.

Anyway...the Indians performed dances from each of the areas of India, a cantor from the Catholic Cathedral did an solo rendition of Latin chants, and in an astonishing finish, a tribe of Aztec dancers took to the stage for twenty minutes of foot pounding dance.
(I got the giggles...Indians...the sari clad dot Indians had invited the "feather" Indians to their party!) 

This tiny Native American girl did herself proud dancing along with her parents on stage.
It was interesting to note that several "dot" Indian dance numbers featured ankles wrapped with bells that chimed with each stomp.
The "feather" Indians had their ankles wrapped with shells that likewise chimed as they dance.
The Diwali event went on for over two hours.
There were around 300 people in the auditorium watching the performances and ceremonies.
After the show concluded, the woman Master of Ceremony went on stage, thanked all the companies and organizations that had provided financial support of the Interfaith program, and then BLEW ME AWAY by inviting EVERYONE to go downstairs for a complete Indian meal.
"No need to jump line" she cautioned.  "There will be plenty of food for everyone!"
I looked around...surely you had to be an Indian? Or at least have tickets, or pay someone?

The full meal was catered, tables were set all though the downstairs area and I wound up being seated with an Indian family with two young sons.
We had such an interesting discussion about immigration, American cities, Salt Lake, and so on.
The food was excellent!
How amazing was this that our community would make such an event possible.
Jews, Christians, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics...all eating together and chatting away like old friends.

It was after that that I decorated at home.

It really did start to feel Christmas-y!

Two days later Luke came over in the morning.
Bernie got up after Luke arrived, and got dressed before he came out to see Luke.
Imagine how funny it was to see that the two guys were dressed identically by chance!

Friday Dec. 7th there was an opportunity to attended the Dickens's Christmas Festival at the Utah State Fair ground, once again, for free.
Usually they charge $7 to get in; I had never been before I wanted to scope it out.
I persuaded Rachel to come along with me, and to bring Luke too.
We had a chuckle at the sign spelling as we waited to get into the grounds.

Well, it turned out to be building after building of vendors.
We did admire the tea kettle wind chines (although Luke clearly was not impressed).

One vendor had magnetic collars and brought his cat along to model.
The vendors wore Dickens style clothing and there were various groups performing on the area stage but all in all I think the event will get a skip from me in the future.

That evening, Friday, Dec. 7th, Bernie had a Men's dinner meeting at church.
I headed out to downtown, to the Gallivan Center, where there is a park with lovely Christmas decorations.

I felt perfectly safe walking about...

Taking in the beautiful sights....

Trying various camera settings to take pictures.

In the center of the park is an outdoor ice skating rink.

I could have happily just sat and watched all the fun going on there.
So colorful!

But I actually was at the Gallivan Center to attend a free concert!
It was held on the second story of a building.

The stair case and hallway going up to the auditorium was visually interesting too.

The group Lark & Spur were preforming Christmas music.
You can catch their singing HERE

While the music filled the room, one could enjoy the holiday colors outside below as the auditorium had glass window walls on three sides.

After the concert was over I lingered a bit around the fire and watched the skaters some more.
When I got home I was glad to hear that Bernie really did enjoy his time with the men.
I had missed having him with me...sometimes there are just too many good things happening at once.

On the few days where there wasn't anything to go to, I worked on stitching Christmas stockings (just the name part) and finishing up addressing Christmas card.

I enjoyed the snow that fell...

Saturday, Dec. 8 was the first night of Hanukkah.

We invited Jeff, Rachel and Luke to come over for salmon, latkas and kugel.
A yummy traditional Jewish meal that Bernie wanted on the First Night because early the next day he was to fly to Puerto Rico on business for a week.

So Monday night it was just me and the cats doing the Hanukkah candles.

(It was so peaceful to read the scripture passage each night and then just settle into the quiet of candle light for an hour.)

More snow...

Another candle added.

And another....

Each night I posted the candles and the scripture on Facebook; Bernie could join me in seeing the candles from where he was in PR.

I had no one to play driedel with this year (the cats were not interested, so the gold coins were up for grabs. And I did grab one or two each night.)

I got such a kick out of how faithful Tate was about candle enjoyment.

In fact all to the cats sat and watched the candles with me each night.

Silly old Tate.

On a snowy morning he went exploring and stayed outside for hours.

Luke took his first self portrait with my cell phone camera.

Bernie flew home late on Thursday night long after the candles had burned out. 

On Friday I got in my car around 11 am, to drive downtown (15 minutes away) for a concert at the Cathedral.
The Cathedral has a Choir school and each year the students do a 45 minute long performance of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of the Carols.  HERE is another choir performing the work.
I have attended the annual performance several time over the years and was really looking forward the hauntingly sweet sound of the children singing in the lovely Cathedral setting again.

I switched on the car radio as I drove and hear for the first time about the horrific school shooting in Newtown just four hours earlier.

I prayed and wept as I watched the children singing.
All around me were smiling parents, grandparents and friends who clearly had not yet heard the news.
The twenty or so children performed the songs so beautifully.
They will perform again this coming Friday.
This time...I think the audience will feel quite mixed emotions as they watch the children sing.
I had a few errand to run on the way home but found myself feeling so emotionally wrenched that I decided to stop for a cup a tea at a small Indian "to go" store in the area that we call the Avenues, a place with sweet Victorian cottages and an another world feeling.
Parking at the curb, I walked in and asked for a cup of chai.  The owner busied himself with the task of making the tea, and handed it to me after a bit.
I told him I just felt like I needed a cup of tea what with all the sadness.
He asked what I meant; I told him of the news.
He was stunned as well and invited me to sit and have some dates with my tea and talk.
We were alone in the small shop; and so we began to share our fears for America, for families, for our culture.
He was born in Pakistan, of Indian parents, and came to America in the 1980s.
He married; it was an arranged marriage, and they had two children, now well grown and into their careers.
It was such an interesting conversation as we shared how we view the importance of children having an intact home, the importance of commitment to marriage and family, the pleasure of building a business and hard work.
He shared he was head of an inter faith committee outreach at his mosque and was dismayed at the militant Muslims.
We spoke of Afghanistan, faith, politics.
It was the kind of conversation that I would love to have with people of all sorts every day.
A stop to get a cup of tea was all it took.
I think I will look for such simple opportunities more often.

Friday night we lit the seventh candle.

Saturday it snowed like crazy.

18 inches or more fell, heavy wet stuff that thankfully was addressed with the assistance of our neighbor's snow blower.
He was out of town, his wife is 7 1/2 month pregnant.
It was perfect to be able to use their blower for clearing both of our driveways and walks.

Before the snow plows arrived.
I always like how it looks before they do their job.

Saturday night...the last night of Hanukkah.
The coins had dwindled down.
I make Latkas again.

They burned their final hour, then we headed out the door.

Our church had a 40+ age group Christmas party.
My friend Karen was there and regretted she hadn't called me and told me to bring her a hat to wear too.
She's the one who looks great in every hat. It would have been easy to grab one for her to wear too!
The hostess was raised in New Orleans and she had decorated her home beautifully and prepared traditional southern treats...pralines, and white red velvet cake that was so good!
As guests kept arriving the table got fuller and fuller with items that had been brought to share.
The fine china and silverware, crystal and candle light made the event so elegant.
About two dozen people filled her dining and living room area.
Christmas party fun just chatting and eating.
No need for games or gifts.
There is still a week to go until Christmas.
All of the above took place over fifteen days.
Fifteen more days until New Years.
Good times are still ahead.
My camera is charged up.
I'll be back to share again really soon!


ellen b. said...'ve been out and about and tucked in, too. Eventful is the right word for sure. Enjoy the next 15! Hope Draco doesn't set you back!

Vee said...

You are such an interesting person. I love that you don't hesitate to go alone...something I would never, and I mean never do. Look at all the adventures you have...and the interactions...and the learning of new things and... We'll learn that in your next post!

(Loved, loved, loved the matching Luke and Grandpa shirts.)

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

You've covered a lot of territory here, Jill. Enjoy all those festivities...and keep us posted. It seems there is never a dull moment over there!

Love the Luke and Grandpa matchy/matchy look!

Sara said...

You have had a very full time this year, and still more to come! I really enjoyed this post, and especially the meaningful conversations you described.

Julie said...

As always, Jill, your post is informative, interesting and unique! I love how you are able to absorb all the details of an experience and then word paint with them to share with others.
I do love little Luke -- how adorable he is !! and Tate? I hope there will be a few candles in his Christmas stocking !
Wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas season and also a blessed New Year!

Lovella ♥ said...

I am also just amazed at what you have taken in during the last 15 days. You have such a spirit of adventure and a mind that loves to learn.
Snow...I'm jealous. We had some snow today but it melted as it hit the ground.

Marg said...

I look back at your post this past month, that described your difficulties and yet, I can see that you had many memorable events.
I loved how you lit your candles. What a wonderful way to keep connected to Bernie.
Your life is full of joy and activity.
That little one sure has added a new blessing to your life.