A Central Illinois Holiday Season

I took my “gently worn” clothing to our local Goodwill store in September, amidst the transition of my closet from the summer season back to fall and winter. Ready to begin my shopping for three holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas—I found that, to my surprise, Christmas decorations were already on display!

And that got me to reminiscing. “The holiday season comes earlier each year”—it’s a cliché, but true, no doubt. Because of our deadlines here at art & society, I too began to think about the holiday season very early this fall. Perhaps some of my memories will trigger some of yours. I remember using the pillowcase from my bed as a trick-or-treat sack. Growing up in my hometown, there was not just a single designated evening with set hours for trick-or-treating—we started three days before Halloween! Then my sister and I would spread the candy out on the floor to pick out our favorite treats.

I remember driving through the first blizzard of November to a relative’s home for Thanksgiving, only to find that all the dinner tables were set up in the unheated garage because their house was too small. However cold it was that year, the flashback to this family scene was warm and cheery!

I remember as a child visiting Santa Claus—THE Santa Claus—in the basement level of the old Sears in downtown Peoria. I asked for a Barbie doll, and good ol’ Saint Nick came through. I still have my original Barbie, Midge and Skipper dolls.

From the Festival of Lights to the Santa Claus Parade, the Peoria area has a rich history of celebrating the holiday season. This issue we take a look at some of the area’s unique, long-standing traditions.

I was first introduced to the work of glass artist Hiram Toraason when I received one of his original hand-blown glass vases at a Christmas party last year. Our staff was fascinated upon visiting his studio and very impressed with the ornament he created to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association—and it made for a fabulous cover, don’t you think? We also visited with several other local charities that have created unique ornaments for the holidays this year.

My Christmas decorations won’t go up until the day after Thanksgiving, but with only a month to enjoy them, I plan that weekend to enjoy the leftover food and transform our home into a winter wonderland. After learning more about the services offered by area professionals, I’m tempted to reserve their expertise for next year.

Also in this issue, I was interested to learn about the revival of knitting and crocheting among our youth. The skill and hobby is addictive—I became hooked myself at one point and have crocheted a few afghans in my time! As we transition into cooler temperatures, it’s a great way to relax and calm the mind.

Thank you all for a marvelous 2007—we wish you a safe and memorable holiday season and look forward to what 2008 will bring. a&s