For the last three weeks, I’ve received an unknown call on my cell phone. The call comes in at the same time every day, but I never answer it.
Manitowoc Calling. That’s what I think every time I see it and then I think “Hello, hello, Manitowoc calling.”
I was curious about the number and googled it; I found nothing. My iPhone eventually labeled it as “potential spam.” I wanted to answer it because I knew about Manitowoc, Wisconsin. I blogged about it in 2016.
Maybe someone from Manitowoc wanted to talk to me about my Aluminum Specialty Company Tree.
Well, they might.
Not only did a piece of Sputnik IV crash in Manitowoc, the town has more recently been hosting a festival called “Evergleams on Eighth.” This festival, which runs from Thanksgiving through early January, celebrates the aluminum Christmas tree once produced in Manitowoc in atomic-age abundance. The aluminum Christmas tree means something to Manitowoc, like Worumbo woolens and Moxie mean to my town.
I love my sparkly tree. When I first moved home, I was living in an apartment above Rick Mason’s excavation garage. I could see the Mason’s house from my apartment and I remember the night I put my tree up in a window facing the Mason’s house. Gina, Rick’s wife and my good friend, loved it. It made me happy that Gina could see it from her house.
It’s been over 3 years since Gina died. I don’t think about her every day, but I think of her often. Her family still lives here in town. Her husband has remarried. Her son got married, too, and he and his wife have a baby. I wish I could have seen Gina as a grandmother.
Christmas evokes memories for all of us. It’s rather Dickensian, really. We think of Christmas past, we live in Christmas present, and we wonder about Christmas future.
We are living in very dark times. I won’t go on. You can read the (ahem) news yourself. Make your own conclusions. But I’ve noticed that many of my neighbors are putting up Christmas lights this year. They started before Thanksgiving and normally I would be very Emily Post about it and scold them in my mind, almost as if they strung the lights wearing white pants and open toe shoes. I’m a little worn out this season and less sparkly than normal. But I put the candles in my windows Saturday night, in collaboration with my neighbors and friends against this dark night.
My favorite blazing tableau is a trailer on the West Road in Bowdoin. The lights are strung haphazardly all over the yard, with the inflatable snowmen and Santas. There is even Santa in a space ship. It’s very different than my display here on Blethen Street, but I love it because it is almost as though it was the one thing the owners could do then to push back the darkness of being poor and forced to stay home all the time. Maybe they’re out of work. I don’t know.
Very soon, I’ll put my sparkling Manitowoc aluminum tree up. I’ll put more decorations around the house and maybe throw some red and green chocolate covered candies in faux crystal dishes. It’s my best shot to push the darkness back and give a big middle finger to the forces who would have us living in fearful expectation of the future.
“Manitowac calling…Ja, frohe Weihnachten auch für dich!”