12 DAYS OF BROOKLYN: And There Shall Be Trees

Day Eleven 12 Views of Brooklyn
Photograph by Joseph Caserto. See Who's Who.

Photograph by Joseph Caserto. See Who’s Who.

dec16IT HAPPENS SO SUDDENLY. ONE DAY YOU TURN A FAMILIAR CORNER and – voilà!  there you are in the midst of an evergreen forest! The pine scent is intense, the prickly branches reach out to you, it’s heady and exciting: Christmastime, Christmastime! Soon you realize your brain is being bathed in or battered by holiday music. O Tannenbaum jostles Rudolph the Red….Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (preferably sung by k. d. lang) co-exists with Handel’s Messiah (preferably one you can sing along with in a church). You’ve shopped and staggered home to wrap. The tree lights are on. Who’s got the tape? Grandmother makes her annual joke: No packing in the peekages! Stockings are hung by the fire or maybe just draped over the back of the couch. When emotion overtakes you, it often comes by stealth – at the midnight service when a pure young voice sings the first notes of O Holy Night, or after the stockings have been emptied and the wrappings are in tatters and the family holds hands to give thanks over the turkey dinner. Or maybe it’s private, when you step outside to remember childhood celebrations and the people who loved you who now are gone and you silently thank them for the year you got the bike of your dreams and forgive them for the Christmas of the Scratchy Socks and Really Stupid Sweater. Take a deep breath, smell the pine wreath, give in to it all – and laugh a little as Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer from a car passing in the slushy street chimes in with your iPod, “Good King Wenceslas looked out/On the feast of Stephen/When the snow lay round about/Deep and crisp and even….” Here’s to 2012 and another fine Christmas.

BROOKLYN ARTISAN’S 12 DAYS OF BROOKLYN: Starting at the Grand Gateway to Prospect Park

Day One  12 Views of Brooklyn
The arch at Grand Army Plaza lighted for the holidays (Photo by Joseph Caserto. More: Who’s Who)
  Photograph by Joseph Caserto; see our Who’s Who.

dec6THE SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ ARCH at Grand Army Plaza, lighted for the holidays. Built in 1892 to mark the entrance to Prospect Park, the arch was modified three years later when bronze statuary was added. Originally Prospect Park Plaza, the circle was renamed Grand Army Plaza in 1926 as commemoration for veterans of the Union Army of the Civil War. In 1975, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. At the nexus of Union Street, Eastern Parkway, Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Park West and Flatbush Avenue, where the 2/3 trains stop, it is an imposing backdrop for the popular Saturday farmer’s market and food truck meet-ups. (Be warned: This is the busiest traffic circle in Brooklyn, and though recent efforts to address the safety and preferences of pedestrians have yielded improvements, not all problems have been solved.) 

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