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  • Writer's pictureErin Chandler

What Today Brings

“Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.” –Henry David Thoreau

The atmosphere was as sweet as can be downtown Versailles last Saturday for the Christmas Parade. It was the first parade in my life I had the privilege of riding in. Deanna Ramsey’s Art in the Park float gathered local artist David Miller, who crafts woodwork, a musician named Josh, a writer (that would be me), new Versailles resident Tuesday Knight, an actress and acting teacher, and creative merchant/restauranteur Linda Parker, who owns Addie’s at the Woodford Inn. Deanna topped off out float party with Judy English, Michelle Peers and herself as the all-around go-getters of the community that they are. This made for a fun time passing the crowd celebrating Christmas. There were more children than I knew we could pack into Versailles and they were so happy to get the gift bags we were so happy to give out.

The strange thing of my joyous jaunt in the parade is that I don’t even like Christmas. In fact, I usually dread the moment when all of the commercials and advertising starts, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, favorites as a child, begin to fill me with a kind of melancholy. Then there is the endless loop of sad Christmas songs everywhere you go, the I wish I could be home but I won’t be home… only in my dreams. Even the happy songs make me sad but I plaster a smile on my face and buy the requisite tree and ornaments and tinsel, dress up and go to the parties and ooh and ahh over the green and red and royal blue lights.

Ironically my favorite musical as a child was Mame. From that, the song my mother and I sing all year round is, “Haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again. Fill up the stocking, I may be rushing things but deck the halls again now. For we need a little Christmas…” Go figure. Maybe the melancholy comes from the fact that so many people are alone and will not be embraced by anyone. Perhaps it’s this insistence of happiness and joy, the assumption that we all have family gathered around a Christmas tree and that we all wear head to toe fleece pajamas and bound up carpeted stairs to bedrooms that are perfect and safe. The knowing that this is not the case, that if this is the reality for anyone, they are the lucky minority.

I know a few families, and I won’t call them out for their happiness, that have homes that are so calm inducing, children that are so perfect and well behaved, and relatives that are so not crazy, that these commercials could represent a truth. Yes, Christmas joy does exist. But for some of us who are products of a divorce, it largely meant separation, it meant leaving one parent to be with the other, in my case it put a lot of pressure on my dad and brother and myself to be extra happy those 24-48 hours of Christmas Eve and Christmas. The reality was we were happy most of the time but when the atmosphere dictates that you better be happy now or something is wrong, anxiety seeps in. It is usually only after that revved up Christmas morning frenzy is over when my spirits begin to lift. At this point I know I can tear it all down and get ready for my yearly ritual of blessing and thanking, remembering and letting go of the year that is almost over. Then, I prepare to greet a new one filled with endless possibilities.

As evidenced last Saturday, I do get into the Christmas spirit. I am a creature who will jump in and join my fellows, whatever fellows I’m sharing air with. When I jumped in to ride on that float/golf cart with Deanna, Linda, Judy, Josh, David and Tuesday it was a great decision. It was fun and inspiring and it felt like we were all in this community together. I’ll say it… it made me love Christmas more than ever. As we passed rows of bundled up smiling people who live in our amazing town, out to celebrate togetherness, we rolled by local stores with lights and decorated trees. The courthouse steps were chock full of smiling and waving faces. I must have said Merry Christmas a hundred times and each time I meant it from the bottom of my heart. I grew up on this street and it will forever be the most important street and town in my lifetime, how could it not fill this heart with so many emotions?

Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Palm Sunday that “the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” That is the dream. Can you imagine all of us loving each other, caring for each other and when a person reaches that inevitable dark night of the soul, they can rest assured that they have a community to lift them up until they feel better… which we always do.

Now proud Versailles business owners ourselves, Tuesday and I are thrilled to be part of that loving community offering up inspiring and interesting things to do. This Saturday we are having a ‘soft opening’ of our bookstore (a sweet word that means we are not quite finished). Still, Rabbit House Books & Notions at 190 N. Main is beautifully coming into shape and chock full of great books! We have already started our Acting and Playwriting classes in the back room and will grow that aspect of the bookstore as our classes include poetry, literature and music lessons. We open our doors this Saturday at 10:00 am and will have a wine and cheese reception that afternoon from 4:00-6:00. Please join us if you can. There will be Christmas decorations but the Beatles may be playing.

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