I don’t know when it happened exactly, but at some point this week I became what I can only describe as “Zionized.” Maybe it was during my time with Ralph and Jan Stacy as they paged through old scrapbooks sharing stories from the past of Christmas in the Village, an event they founded in 1974 with other merchants. They pulled out many photos, but my favorite was a picture of an enormous tree in the middle of Main Street. They shared stories of how they would load up the kids in the sled and decorate each of the town’s poles with garland in ice-cold weather and how the famous Village tree froze to the bricks one year which made it almost impossible to remove.
“We had a lot of fun back then,” Jan said. “We love Christmas. It was for the community and got people involved.” Their dedication, volunteer hours beyond measure, and love for their town choked me up as I drove away.
And then there was Big Dave of Big Dave’s Deli on Oak Street. I had heard a little bit about his story and, of course, the $10.99 per pound tenderloins. But, when I stepped in his shop I was transformed back in time to the ’50s and a place that felt like home, where everyone knows each other, jokes fly randomly while working, and loyal customers make regular stops.
While I was taking Dave’s picture, a customer yelled across the room, “Hey, give me a tomato so I can throw it at him!” Everyone burst out in laughter. As I left, the smell of bacon remained with me but that same feeling overcame me as when I left the Stacy’s.
Don’t even get me started on Christmas in the Village! My “Zionized” state is now complete, and I’m certain it will be impossible to go back home to Carmel.
And my wandering continues …