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Driving down Route 6A last night from our bed and breakfast on Cape Cod, I was reintroduced to the magic of the holidays here. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, decorates their homes and yards to the “nines“. Yesterday I wrote about the lighted statues that line the businesses along the Old Kings Highway, but they are not the only ones worth noting. There is a property at the corner of Route 6A and Quaker Meeting House Road that truly goes over the top with decorations. Lights, figures, scenes, animals, crèches, you name it, it’s there. Delightfully tacky and yet heartwarming at the same time.
It’s a toss-up for me whether I prefer the traditional colored lights of my youth, or the more sophisticated and elegant blue and white theme that seems to be today’s dominant motif. Some homeowners go to town with the icicle lights, others with the netted hedgerow lights, and some with the whole-house outline effect. Then you have the blow-up Rudolphs and Santas that dance and sway in the breeze. I suppose the median age of the household determines how, when, and what to decorate, but the “if” seems a forgone conclusion here on Cape Cod.
Having just returned from an extended vacation abroad, the decorations seem more of a surprise this year than ever. We left just after Halloween when pumpkins and scarecrows were all the rage, missed the Thanksgiving sheaves of wheat and fruited displays and jumped right into Christmas lights, window candles, and mistletoe. So I have some catching up to do, to be sure.
I also have some catching up to do with what’s going on here on Cape Cod for the holidays. So I have been pouring over the newspaper inserts and monthly magazines to get the lowdown on the holiday scene. Here’s the round-up for the next couple of weeks, just in case you’ve been away like I have, or just not paying attention.
Over the past several holiday seasons we’ve spent here at our Inn on Cape Cod, Rich and I have noticed an evolving new holiday tradition along scenic Route 6A, the old Kings Highway. Drive the route after dusk beginning around the Thanksgiving holiday and you’ll notice mammoth illuminated metal sculptures along the way depicting everything from the local high school’s mascot (a blue knight) to a tri-cornered colonial man, a juggler, and a chef.
Spearheaded by a local craftsman who specializes in glass blowing, these delightfully whimsical sculptures are the brainchild of Michael Magyar, owner of the Glass Studio on Cape Cod located on Route 6A in East Sandwich. He began with a sculpture for his own business and created “MotoSan the Glassblower” a 20 foot giant that looms outside his workshop greeting passersby. Soon after MotoSan appeared, several additional metal statues starting cropping up in front of local businesses along the route. Joining MotoSan was Teddy the Baseball player, a damselfly, a honeybee, a lobsterman, and a juggler. Now more than 2 dozen sculptures adorn the byway spawning a new holiday tradition of “statue spotting” the behemoths and identifying their relationship to the businesses they decorate.
This year the owners of the metal giants have banded together to try to capitalize on the phenomenon by creating a map depicting the location of each of the sculptures. The maps will be available at the Bee-Hive Tavern and other local businesses beginning the weekend of December 9.
You can preview the route on the map below, first published by the Cape Cod Times, along with photos of the sculptures on their website.
Having just returned from a whirlwind tour of Mediterranean ports, I can assure you that I am a fan of shopping locally whenever I travel. Local foods, local wines, local crafts. My suitcase and carry-on bags were filled with gifts for my friends and family: pashminas from Turkey, leather gloves and silk scarves from Florence, handmade paper from Venice, wine from Sicily, and chocolates from Provence. Now as I sort through my treasures I think back on the conversations I had with the local vendors as I made my choices.
There was Beatrice, an 80-something retired teacher from Provence who hand sews sachets for her home-grown lavender; a clever Turkish boy who implored that I was “killing him” in the traditional bargaining banter; and a lovely mademoiselle who carefully wrapped the boxes of chocolates I selected for the chocoholics in my life. They are gifts for my friends, to be sure, but also warm and delightful memories of a trip to far-away places with humble entrepreneurs like myself just trying to eke out a living by selling something simple, local, handmade.
Shopping is such a personal and even intimate activity. Have I chosen the right colors, the perfect size, the preferred flavors? Does the gift tell a story or embrace a memory? Sometimes the meaning of the gift may be lost in translation, but the spirit of giving remains pure.
So as I anticipate this holiday shopping season, I endeavor to shop locally whenever possible to support the local economy and choose my gifts wisely. But I also want to embrace the activity of shopping, not just the result. Often in such a simple exchange stories are shared and memories made, because each of us, shoppers and vendors alike, are just people in the end. Simple, ordinary people, living our lives and sharing our wares in the places we call home.
If your travels bring you to Cape Cod this holiday season, here are some of my favorite places to shop locally. Be sure to engage the proprietors for some local insight and inspiration. And if you need a place to lay your head at the end of a long day of Christmas shopping, be sure to call us here at the High Pointe Inn on Cape Cod. We’re good listeners and great storytellers. Happy Holidays everyone!