My Turn: Leave the tree-lighting ceremony just as it is
Sometimes the Monitor’s daily editorial makes me want to take up arms, but a paragraph in the July 22 editorial (“Downtown construction survival guide”) definitely made me want to turn on the computer and start typing.
Regarding the Concord Christmas tree lighting and the possibility of combining it with Midnight Merriment, the Monitor wrote, “. . . it has always seemed odd to ring in Christmas before the Thanksgiving leftovers were even cold.”
Where has the editorial staff been for the past few decades?
I am not in favor of starting the holiday season prior to Thanksgiving. It has always struck me as too much too soon, so that by the second week of December I am channeling Scrooge and seeking out solitude, far removed from choruses of “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells.”
However, a half century ago when I was a grammar school student in Concord, the official start of the Christmas season was Lorne Greene and Betty White hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving – before dinner. In our house we could then officially begin listening to Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Johnny Mathis as they extolled “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
Thanksgiving night was spent tossing and turning, and not because of the multiple helpings of stuffing and three desserts we had indulged in. We were excited because the Friday after Thanksgiving also marked the day in which downtown Concord came alive in a blaze of holiday cheer.
It was almost magical how the store windows were transformed into winter wonderlands. The festive holiday lights that had been wrapped around the lamp poles the weekend before would be turned on Friday afternoon, and for the first time we’d be able to see the tree that stood in front of the State House plaza fully lit. It was more exciting than visiting Santa at one of his multiple Concord locations.
The day after Thanksgiving has long been designated as the official start of the season, and to combine the tree lighting with Midnight Merriment, a week later, is to further mute the magic that once wrapped around our downtown like a child’s dream.
It’s bad enough that we are the only state capital in the United States that doesn’t have downtown holiday lights any longer without keeping dark the tree that lends a bit of the well-remembered cheer.
Friends of mine from Henniker, upon hearing of the possibility of a combining of the events said, “We hate the madness associated with Midnight Merriment – the crowds and parking problems and chaos, but we always bring the kids in for the tree lighting and then hang around for dinner and some shopping. If they combine the events, we’re not driving in.”
Let’s leave some things the way they’ve been, as we rush to reinvent our city and forevermore make changes. Some things are fine as they are.
(Paul E. Brogan lives in Concord.)