No - the statue with the sack here is not Santa Claus who lost his hat, but The Pedlar - an old symbol of this town and area having been a centre of trade and markets for centuries. Just now, finding himself next to a recently dug hole in the street, he seems rather to symbolize the confusion of the present inhabitants of the town who are wondering what on earth happened to the traditional Christmas market…
Because the little red wooden market stalls that we’ve become used to seeing in the main square in the Christmas season, aren’t there this year. I don’t really get why, because the square is just about the only place in town which is not dug up and/or surrounded by buildings undergoing refurbishment at the moment. In my opinion, the general chaos and upheaval should be all the more reason to try and do something festive with the few places that are still intact.
So when I saw an ad in the local paper announcing that there was to be a handicrafts fair at the smaller old Haymarket square yesterday, I cheered up, and set off out into the fog to find it.
Even as I was approaching the place, I was beginning to wonder if I had misread the date or something, though. Market? What market??
But it was there - under that roof with the lights that you see in the middle. Three or four stalls in total…
One of them turned out to belong to an old friend / work mate from back when we both worked at the hospital (she as an occupational therapy assistant, I as secretary). She is also an artist and now she and her husband have a small business based on her cards and calendars and things – and sell some at markets and fairs like this. I bought a calendar and a small tea tray (not sure yet what to keep or give away, so not showing them here).
In one of the other market stalls someone was selling ‘recycled’ jewelry made from old silver and nickel silver spoons. Even though I don’t normally wear much jewelry myself, I couldn’t resist buying something here too. And as she had a ‘buy two, get one free’ offer, of course I ended up with three pieces rather than just one… Again, I might end up giving away one or two, so not showing them all here. But the one below intrigued me so much that I’ve decided I definitely want to keep it for myself:
The size of the piece is 48 mm (~2 inches), and made from the handle of a teaspoon. It’s made of nickel silver rather than real silver; but I fell in love with it for the incredibly detailed and unusual image. At first glance (in the fog and all…) I took it for a Madonna image, but on closer inspection I found it to be a princess or queen (with crown on her head) sitting on a high-backed chair (throne?) by a window, doing needlework. And on the floor beside her, a small open chest – I suppose her sewing box. It reminds me of fairy tales – not any particular one though, just in general. (If any of my readers can relate it to a special story or artist, or have ever seen anything like it, please share your thoughts!)
So all in all, even though for a Christmas market it was a very small one, I went away with several purchases. (Maybe I should be glad there weren’t more stalls to tempt me!)
On my way back through town (I decided to take the bus home) I passed by a group from the Salvation Army singing Christmas carols and collecting money for charity. One of them another old friend of mine. I know he and the others do an admirable job helping people much less fortunate than myself… So I stopped to put a contribution into their donation pot as well.
It’s like this time of year really sharpens the contrasts of the contradictory messages we are facing all the time these days: On the one hand, we are expected to support the economy by continuing to shop and consume… On the other hand, we are constantly reminded that we need to think of the environment and get better at saving and repairing and recycling. And on the third hand (how many hands is one supposed to have?) there seems to be more people than ever during my lifetime, even in this country, who are struggling with real poverty and unable to find jobs or even a roof over their head. I’ve also never before seen so many adverts from charity organizations asking us to give each other “nothing” for Christmas, but give all to (their) charity instead – both domestic and international.
No easy answers how to deal with it all! I guess I’ll just have to continue to try and juggle a bit of everything.
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Quoting/translating a Swedish opera singer (Malena Ernman) in an article in a Swedish newspaper that I read via FB today:
“We need to choose new qualities to celebrate rather than always striving to be the biggest, the strongest and the best. --- ‘Think small’ and accept that we sometimes fail, just like everybody else.”
Vi måste välja nya egenskaper att hylla än att hela tiden försöka vara störst, starkast, mest och bäst. --- 'Think small' och var lite lagom misslyckad som alla andra."
Malena Ernman, Expressen Kultur (18 Dec 2016)