I for one am glad the annual Holidazzle Parade has been shelved in favor of Holidazzle Village, a “European-style” market along the lines of Chicago’s Christkindlmarket. Yes, the Holidazzle Parade was a “tradition,” in the sense that it happened every year and more than half the population dreaded it. But it was a flawed tradition, because it was a parade, and because visitors from out of town liked it a little too much.
My mother, especially.
During the years when their grandchild was still cute, my parents would travel from California to Minnesota for their “winter experience.” Every year, my mother insisted part of that experience be a trip downtown to see the “twinkle-light parade.” And so, every year, we would unchain The Grandchild from his Playstation, restrain him with a straitjacket, stuff some Gummi Bears in his mouth, and set about finding a “good spot” from which to view the parade.
These were years when the purple tongue of polar vengeance would reliably dip into the region three days before Christmas, bringing with it the howling winds of pain and death. Undeterred by the cold—because that’s what they were here for—my mother would insist that all we needed to do was “bundle up” and, if things got really cold out there, “huddle together” on the sidewalk.
The problem is, no matter how bundled they get, people from California do not have the proper winter-weather gear to survive for 90 minutes in sub-zero cold. Their feet and hands are especially vulnerable, because they do not understand how aggressively nature is trying to punish them for their folly.
And so, every year, we would return home from our “adventure” and have to snip off the parts of my parents’ hands and feet that had turned black from frostbite. By the time The Grandchild was a teenager, there was nothing left at the end of their limbs but stumps. It was sad. On the bright side, their extremities are now impervious to cold.
With the parade gone, I am certain my parents will now want to investigate Holidazzle Village, whatever that turns out to be. As of this writing, the only details I have are that it will be a European-style village located in Peavey Plaza. But Europe is a big place, and it very much matters to me where these “styles” come from.
Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is based on a German tradition that goes back to 1545. Right there we’ve got a problem, because too much Germanic influence means a lot of Nutcracker imagery, incessant playing of Tchaikovsky, and way too many foods that include sausage. If Minneapolis is going to distinguish itself from Chicago, and avoid the dangers of Nutcracker poisoning, Germany’s chokehold on Christmas must be broken.
So please, for the love of all things holiday and dazzling, let’s remember that Europe includes all kinds of interesting places like Spain, Italy, and Luxembourg. The Scandinavian countries—Norway, Sweden, and Denmark—also have traditions, I am told, though I’m not sure fermented fish and lye are necessarily an improvement over sausage and sauerkraut.
Suffice it to say that I have my concerns about Holidazzle Village. I know it will be cute and festive, and someone will be trying to sell roasted chestnuts and people will be trying to eat them. But beyond that, who knows? I just hope it’s not too cute, because I don’t want my mother to love it so much that it becomes a mandatory new family tradition. Her feet and hands may not feel the cold anymore, but mine still do.