, Gloucester, MA

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December 13, 2012

Transcendence of the season

I was still inside my shop with an hour to go before closing, so I missed the lighting ceremony of the lobster trap Christmas tree outside the police station last week.

I felt the energy and excitement as people rushed past my window pushing baby strollers, balancing bags of gifts, evidence of afternoon shopping. Little kids tried to keep pace with older siblings, hurrying up the hill from the east end of Main Street.

They came from all directions, converging in the street and sidewalk outside of Brown’s Mall as the winter night fell gently and silently, erasing the late afternoon light from the sky.

When I closed up shop I gathered my things, I ventured up the street, quiet now, the crowd dispersed. Alone in the hushed night, I admired the bejeweled spectacle — a perfectly shaped, thrillingly outsized Christmas tree, its blue, green and red lights densely sparkling under a grand gold star against the dark sky.

It was lovely simply to stand, bundled up against the wind, in the presence of this carefully constructed “tree,” the components of which had likely all seen lobster action in our waters. It was unique, I opined, to this craggy jut of seaside land we call Cape Ann, the structure a reminder of centuries of lobster-related history.

In the darkness, only the great cone of lights was visible; the dense blanket of buoys that swathed it in the daylight disappeared, and as I gazed at the tree, all else around me faded away. I was surprised at my own tears trickling down my cheeks. It was so beautiful, a clear manifestation of why we humans have created and embraced holidays — be they religious, patriotic, or seasonal.

It’s that they offer us an outlet to transcend the ruts of the daily grind. They push us to give more, to notice more carefully. They present opportunities to think outside of ourselves, to consider the plights of others who clearly are worse off than we.

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