20ish years later, there is a now a craft show hosted down by the beach every year on Black Friday. & when I say craft show, I mean CRAFT EXPO. Because what better way to work off the gravy-covered carbs from the day before than to power walk your way through row after row of homespun goodies? It’s become a bit of a tradition around the Essmann home, & even Papa E. has begun to look forward to it. (We've gotten good at using BBQ dives as a means of positive reinforcement with the menfolk.) We are absolutely addicted to this vat of hot glue, glitter & hand dipped candles.
& it’s wonderful. There is absolutely not one thing in this place that we need. But it’s all so fantastic, & the atmosphere is buzzing with ladies wearing Christmas sweaters FOR REAL who are not kidding when they thumb through tie-dyed scarves, bedazzled belts or the 19th pillow in a 20 ft. radius with “God Bless This Mess” cross stitched into it. It's infectious! A giant wire turtle for my garden? Why, yes. I do want that. I don’t even have a garden, but if I did, I’D WANT THAT IN IT.
We find ourselves drawn into each & every booth, & after awhile, you start picking up the least offensive piece in the shop & declaring it SO CUTE. It’s not. But the scent of potpourri & dried rosehips gets to you, & before you know it, you’re leaving with a figurine of two snowflakes kissing. (To be fair – They’re very darling snowflakes.) Suddenly, you’re walking around, blessing everyone’s hearts & wishing you had more time to scrapbook. It’s like a spell. A dangerous, wonderful spell. ("GLITTERMENTI!")
But there are a select few vendors that I’d pay big money for, wherever I happened upon them. Our favorite is a wood craftsmen’s booth that I don’t think even has a name. We have a “partridge in a pear tree” trivet (pictured above) that I’m sure you’re supposed to use in the kitchen, but I end up hanging it somewhere every year, going all sorts of MacGyver with some ribbon/our peephole this year. He’s provided our nativity scene, the cutest Christmas tree you ever did see (also pictures above) & many a Christmas gift over the years. Then there’s the wool vendor – OHHH, THE WOOL VENDOR. They have these bears that legitimately make you wish you were 4 so you could walk around snuggling with it. There’s real maple syrup, & some guys that make pretty mediocre salsa, but they put on such a show that you buy it anyway. There’s beautiful jewelry that’s way too expensive & more spoon rings than any girl could ever need... But definitely wants.
This year, as we passed by a bookshelf full of mugs featuring different names for grandparents, complete with definitions, (Memaw – A piece of heaven, created for snuggles, cookies & angel kisses), the fire alarm started going off in the building. The vendor in front of us muttered something about “Just like last year…” & there was nary a break in concentration on the faces of the attendees walking down the aisle. When the voice came over the loudspeaker, asking everyone to please proceed to the nearest exit, it was like Christmas was cancelled. Or the power went out during the Superbowl. Or Taylor Swift was playing on both Christmas radio stations. One unanimous groan that sounded an awful lot like, “I WAITED ALL YEAR FOR THIS.” We shuffled outside & watched the fire department arrive – In no hurry, reassuring everyone that there was, in fact, NOT going to be incinerated Elvis Presley Nutcrackers. Not today. NOT ON OUR WATCH.
People started getting a little grumpy, especially after a staffer came out to tell everyone that they still had to have the building checked out before allowing everyone back in. As an event planner, I wanted to run forward & hug her, over-zealously reassuring her that I understand & it’s not her fault & we’ll be fine. But it was immediately after her announcement, when the crowd started grumbling, that my mom turned to us & said, “WELL! The best way to spread Christmas cheer is…
“SINGING LOUD FOR ALL TO HEAR!!!” I shouted, probably a little too loudly. I maybe jumped around a little, too.
& so we sang. You better not pout, you better not cry… Nobody joined us. A couple of people turned around with their eyebrows raised before resuming their disgruntled stance. The 6 year old on his ipad didn’t even look up. But we sang it. The whole thing. & I was reminded once again that I am so totally my mother’s daughter.