Christmas in Salem

Christmas in Salem

When most people think of Salem, Massachusetts, the first things coming to mind are probably Halloween and the witch trials. But Christmas? Not so much.

Well, Salem does Christmas quite well and has its own unique twists.

The plan hadn’t been to visit Salem for the Christmas season. But I just learned about an art exhibit there that was ending today, so I visited yesterday. That will be a separate post. Along with possibly one or two other posts. There is so much to see and do in Salem!

I visited a couple of adorable coffee shops and wanted to try so many more. I worked in Salem in the early 2000s, but didn’t spend much time wandering around like a tourist. It was fun to do and end the year on that kind of note — like a full circle and healing moment.

This time spent in Salem was also an Artist Date. Time spent alone getting out of my daily routine to help increase my creativity. I have to say that these dates really work.


There was a magical air to everything. With the whimsical Christmas decorations and the witchy history of Salem itself.

The historic Hawthorne Hotel was beautifully decorated. Keeping with the more traditional touches for the season. I also noticed the South Korean flag out front. I have to admit that I don’t know the flags of most countries, so it was interesting to me that it was one that I knew. It’s quite distinctive and I like the symbolism.

Since I was curious about why it was being flown, I asked the front desk. I was told that they change the flags everyday, in order to be more inclusive and welcoming. What a great idea! It was just random that I happened to be there the day this flag was out front.

In keeping with my always being on the lookout for signs from the universe, I’ll take it as a good sign that maybe I’ll get to visit South Korea sooner rather than later.

And on that note, this is the last post of 2023, so Happy New Year!

People Do Change

change

With 2024 just a hop, skip and a jump away, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m hoping for in the new year. Thinking about these goals means change. Changing what I’ve been doing, so I can get different results.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

This quote and similar ones have been attributed to many people, including Jessie Potter, Jackie “Moms” Mabley and Albert Einstein. We may never know the truth of exactly who said exactly what, but the essence of this quote resonates with many people.

It all comes down to change. We can’t keep repeating what we’ve done in the past, if we want something new in the future.

When I was young, I remember always hearing people say, “People don’t change.” The older that I’ve gotten, I’ve come to realize that there is a lot of nuance to this saying with a few themes.

You Can’t Make People Change

One level of the saying that people don’t change is sort of true. What is most true would be to say, “You can’t make people change.” This is so absolutely painfully true. No matter how much we try and want to change someone, if they aren’t willing, there is nothing we can do.

We have to learn to let it go and maybe they can decide to change on their own. Whether we want to wait around and see if they change is up to each individual. Depending on what changes are needed and how they impact our lives, it might be best to make a change of our own and remove ourselves from their life.

Life Will Change You

In a way, it’s rather quaint to think that people don’t change. Even if we don’t want to change, things will happen to us over time that we could never expect. Accidents, illness and time will change us. They will definitely change our physical bodies.

Nobody stays young forever. Even if you are lucky enough to never deal with any accidents or illness, if you live to be 85 years old, your body will be different than when you are 35 years old. There will be many changes.

If you win the lottery, get a big promotion, get married and have children, you will change. The circumstances of your life will be different and usually it’s impossible to stay the same. A “new you” will be born. Our minds and ways of thinking will change and we adapt.

This reminds me of a post that I saw recently on Arielle Lorre‘s Instagram. I don’t follow her, so this just randomly came up in my feed and was quite serendipitous. Because I can be a worrier and need to find ways to stop. Below is what she says.

“I had a clinical psychologist on my podcast, who shared the best advice for worry that I’ll never forget. She said, ‘The version of you that will handle that tough thing – if or when it happens – will be born into existence in that moment … trust your future self to handle future problems.'”

The comments on her Instagram post are mixed. Some believe it and others say that sometimes that future self cannot handle those problems and are broken by them. I can’t argue with them, because sometimes life is too much and people literally die.

But also, sometimes we do rise to meet seemingly impossible circumstances. Over the past few years, I’ve dealt with a lot more than I thought I could. At 59 years old, I am a very different person than I was at 29 years old. That version of me was not ready to handle what I’ve handled over the past few years. And I’m so glad that she didn’t have to.

Live & Learn

This is sort of similar to life changing you. Through our life experiences we learn new things and sometimes realize that we were wrong. Maybe we were wrong about lots of things and can’t do much or anything to change the past. If we can seek forgiveness and make amends for what we’ve done, maybe we should, depending on what that entails. But that is very hard and can cause pain for ourselves and maybe others too.

Sometimes all we can do is accept what we’ve done and strive to do better in the future. I think this is something that most of us will go through at one time or another. If we weren’t the one that did wrong, we may have been the one who was wronged. Then we have to decide how to proceed if someone apologizes and seeks forgiveness from us.

We get to decide how to move forward. It took me a long time to truly realize that I’m the boss of me and act accordingly. I wish that I had known sooner. It now seems obvious. But over the years, I’ve realized how often I did not behave like I was the boss of my life.

I’m glad that I’ve had the ability to self-reflect, keep learning and change — often on my own terms. I’m grateful for what my past self was able to do to get me to the present. And I’ll trust in my future self to handle the rest.

No Candlelight for Renters?

Are you enjoying all the cozy vibes this season with string lights and candlelight?

For those who own their residence, then it’s no problem. If you rent the place where you live, it might not be so easy. Burning candles is often prohibited in lease agreements.

I love the scents and soft light of candles. They are part of my daily routine when I do yoga, meditate or just want to relax. Especially this time of year when we’re losing daylight. Tomorrow is the winter solstice. Winter starts officially and we will have more hours of darkness than any other time of year. Creating our own light sources indoors is the best way to create hygge and embrace the season.

My first encounter with burning candles being prohibited was at my last apartment. Before signing the lease, I spoke with the owner of the property and negotiated an addendum allowing me to burn candles.

The next encounter I was not so lucky. It was around this time last year that I sold my mother’s house and rented her an apartment. Again, the lease did not allow burning candles. This time I was not able to negotiate anything. It might be the difference between renting an apartment in a smaller multi-family house from an individual versus an apartment in a large complex with hundreds of units and a corporate landlord.

Further, where my mom lives there had been a recent fire caused by a candle, which resulted in a lot of damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candle fires in each of these months.”

Because of the dangers caused by candle burning, I can see why property owners want to prohibit the practice. According to Statista, there were more than 40 million housing units occupied by renters in this country last year. That’s a lot of people who are potentially having lifestyle restrictions.

I wonder about that fine line between a lifestyle choice and a religious and cultural practice. How often do landlords enforce this provision in a lease? When they enforce it, do they enforce it uniformly? At what point could this restriction result in religious discrimination?

Are people allowed to have birthday candles? If someone has a birthday party and they light candles and blow them out right away, that is different from someone burning several candles for a sustained period of time.

What if someone is lighting a menorah for Hanukkah? Or lighting the kinara for Kwanzaa? Not all candle burning is the same, so I wonder how do property owners decide. Maybe there is no actual enforcement, until there’s a fire and someone has to pay.

Christmassy in Quincy

Thomas Crane Public Library Christmassy
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! It’s even feeling Christmassy too.

One of the things that I want to do regularly is take pictures of the ordinary. What I see day to day or even year to year.

The picture above is the main Quincy library. It’s a gorgeous building all the time, but even prettier when it’s decked out for Christmas.

Quincy ice skating rink
This afternoon an acquaintance and I had planned to go skating at the new skating rink in Quincy. There was a few hours wait, so we ended up not going.

Since it was unseasonably warm, we decided to walk around to catch up and enjoy the outdoor Christmassy vibes.
Quincy Town Hall Nativity Scene

We strolled by the Nativity scene at city hall and even saw the little baby Jesus statue! He was often stolen from the manger like some sort of item listed on a Christmas scavenger hunt, so I was surprised that he was there. Hopefully the display will remain intact this year.