יום שבת, 22 בדצמבר 2012

Holiday Side-Road Miracles

Hanukah has just ended and Christmas is right around the corner. It's that magical time that makes even a cynic like me feel like warming up to a large mug of hot cider and think about what really matters. So this post is dedicated to miracles: whether it is the miracle of the tiny can of oil that lit the Menorah in the holly temple for a whole eight days, or the resurrection of a nice Jewish boy who was punished simply for wanting to do things a little differently; it got me to thinking of miracles. 

Holiday Musings

For me miracles are not always grand revelations followed by fire and brimstone (or is that a bad thing…?). In fact, often times they are the little instances that are mostly fleeting, or tiny objects that are briefly caught in the corner of one's eye; and luckily for me- there have been quite a few of them in my life, mostly found in flea markets or  antique shops.

Little miracles on the side of the road

So, ok… I know what you're thinking: "all this fancy talk just to introduce some accessories", but anyone who knows me knows that for me god really is in the details, and every extraordinary object that crosses my path gives my life a little bit more color and meaning. And that is precisely what happened about four years ago, around the holiday season, when I found my way into what could only be described as a life-sized jewelry box. By sheer coincidence, the ground floor of the rundown building I was living at the time, with its exposed water pipes, was the location of a little antique jewelry store; the owner of which was just as colorful and unexpected as the place itself. Imagine a room no larger than a drycleaner's reception, saturated with rime-stone necklaces hanging from plastic doll heads, 1920's style lace headbands, funky plastic rings of all shapes and sizes spread across a marble table, and some actually expensive pearl bracelets carefully incased in glass cases. Over this carnival presided a heavily made-up curvy Latina woman named Carolina, whose high dark hairdo and collection of colorful leggings (which she proudly exhibited every day), never once deminished the fact that she was still one of the most beautiful and voluptuous women I had ever had the honor of meeting. 

Street Art. Photography: Amit Mendelson

It was in that kind of Woody Allenesque  curiosity shop that I found my favorite earrings- a gypsy styled, bronze colored hoop clip-ons (which is great since my ears aren't pierced). Carolina told me about finding them in some market during her latest visit with her mother in South America. Being a tough Israeli, I am well familiar with the sight of Druze market peddlers filling test tubes with tap water and selling it to unsuspecting tourists as holly water from the river of Jordan, while always closing the deal with a heart ranching story about the legacy of Christ. So I always thought my earrings could have come from the home of a wise old Mayan priestess, just as easily as they could've come from the market is South Tel-Aviv. But I'll go with the more romantic story just for the heck of it…

My Gypsy earrings

Sadly, the vibrant woman's shop operated during the years of the great financial crisis, and by the end of that year she was forced to close down. But the beautiful extravagant size of my earrings and thier ethnic Spanish style are not only a perfect upgrade for anything I choose to wear, but it also reminds me of the exceptional woman who surrounded herself with beauty and searched for uniqueness in the midst of the darkest most difficult time. And when times are hard and grim for me, I like to put them on and pretend that maybe it might've actually originated from some exotic sacred place.

Another little miracle was found by me, or more accurately- found me, in an antique market held in the main square of my hometown a few months ago. This Victorian style teapot broach caught my eye when I passed a little makeshift stand at the market. On a stool by the stand sat an elderly Russian pawnbroker, who boasted an old Soviet army jacket dripping with rusty medals which told of his past glories. Other then my steampunk Victorian fattish, what really drew me to this ornate little broach was the tiny spoon, glas,s and fork hanging from it. I love wearing it with jeans and a plane black jacket because of the stark juxtaposition between my urban outfit (and surroundings) and this old-fashioned "Mrs. Potts" type accessory. 

Cuppa tea anyone?

But by some external force, I only chose to start wearing it this Hanukah; and as I began thinking about it I realized that nothing says "family" like a boiling teapot, especially with the first rainstorms fiercely tapping on my window. So anytime I pin this broach on my jacket, it's like taking the holiday atmosphere with me wherever I go, and I know I'm getting insanely cheesy but I do believe it holds in it the spirit of family that is the essence of the holiday season for all religions.

And since we're on the subject of religions, I must confess that like many of us here in Israel, I've always wanted to experience Christmas. For though we love our deep fried jam donuts and latkes while we light the Hanukah candles, we secretly wish to get drunk on eggnog and wear a sexy red cap while decorating a large tree. But seriously, all religions have been a fascination for me since childhood, simply because I believe that they all share one message. And this feeling was never stronger than during my first ever visit to the Jaffa flea market about twelve years ago. It was there that I found this yellowing print of a scene from the old testament in which Christ is presenting a tattered looking beggar with a stone, and the caption below the image reads:
           "command that these stones become bread" (Matthew 4:6).

 I took the old print home, replaced the old broken frame it was sold in and took it with me wherever I went throughout the last decade. Not that I'm considering conversion, but even this Jewish girl believes that one can make lemonade out of lemons, and that every stone in our path could, with some compassion and patience, be turned into bread to feed the less fortunate.

A little every day reminder

As it turns out, I did get to see my very first Santa only two years ago. It happened in the service elevator of the Radio City Music Hall tour in New-York, where I visited two years ago just before Christmas. Of course, the mere fact that I was an adult woman of 29 didn't stop me from shouting: "Waaww! You're my first Santa!" Little did I know that only a few days later it would be raining Santas, when I was coming out of an Israeli hummus place in the village with some friends. This was all part of a delightful little New-York tradition called the "Santa Barhop Day", and naturally I couldn't help but commemorate the occasion with a photo.

It's raining Santas!

Happy Holidays Everyone!