Tuesday, December 14, 2004

At this point I'm giving up on reviewing Alexander; if you want my thoughts you can ask me. Instead, I'm going to talk about the Dickens Faire.

I'm listening to SHeDAISY's Christmas album, Brand New Year, which I think will become indelibly linked with my memories of the Faire. You might not think SHeDAISY is the right group to be recording a Christmas album, but I really, really like it. Fun. Playful. Not too serious. That's SHeDAISY for you. It's also kind of the Dickens Faire.

I don't normally go to these costume things to play the game, understand. I usually go to dance, and so the costumes seem kind of irrelevant to me. I can participate in the period play to a certain extent - after all, what fun is dancing if you can't be a gentleman? - but when I go to something like Gaskells my objective is to dance.

I went to the Dickens Faire, though, to play. I wanted to be a young apprentice lawyer from New York on a grand adventure in mid-nineteenth century London. Oh, I wanted to dance, too - but San Francisco seemed like an awful long way to go just to dance. No, I decided that if I was going to go to the Faire, I was going to play. I didn't dress up, but I probably could have by raiding the Savoyards' costume store. As I told Miss Bobbi, this was a deliberate choice on my part. If I was there solely to play, I would let imagination carry me the whole way. If I was going to go in further than that for a penny, I wanted in for a dollar.

It's a little hard for me to explain to you why the Faire meant so much to me, and I rather bitterly regret that my travel plans prevent me from attending the last two days. There are so many memories I have from my three days there. The milk shop, and the young fellow who ran it. Dancing with Little Nell. Seeing the delight on the faces of the gentlemen Fezziwiggers when they saw me ("Ah, the infamous Mr. Lowe!" as Mr. Noakes put it). The intimacy of hanging out with cast members in front of Dark Garden to appreciate Lily Fezziwig's window - and being told by Mr. Scully that I was "one of the family." The smiles on the faces of the ladies I danced with. Sending Miss Lily a slightly mischievous telegram. And yes, I admit that it was gratifying to hear from Miss Bobbi that I had created a "stir" among the young ladies.

I have this montage of memories, of thoughts and sensations, and I don't know that they evoke the wonderland of imagination that I found at this place. There's at least three components to the magic. One is, as Blue Rose pointed out, that it's a combination of dancing and roleplaying - what more could I want? And doubtless my dearest Rose has put her finger on something there. But there's more to it than that. Ever since meeting my young vampiress I have felt pushed in the direction of Dickens, feeling the Lord say that there was something special for me there. I feel more certain of that now than ever, though what it is exactly I decline to speculate on at this point. Part of it, I suspect, is the same thing that God had for me among the Chaminade Players: to be a witness in a theatrical company (as I lamented to Alanna the other day, it always seems a shame to me when people find out that I am a Republican Christian and instantly assume that I now fit their stereotypes of what that means, rather than thinking that perhaps I am proof that their stereotype is wrong). No doubt it will become clearer in time.

And the third component is Christmas. The cheer, the effervescent delight, the friends and the family and the warmth. These things do not exist at college, and for the past five years my Christmases have only really begun when I returned home. But this year my Christmas began ... well, when Christmas ought to have begun, and there is someting very special about that. Something deeply touching, which I feel compelled to repay by being a part of it next year. Miss Elliot told me that she can't think of any better way to spend her weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas ... and I don't know if our reasons line up exactly, but right now neither can I. How grand to be allowed to dance, roleplay, and act all at the same time, while simultaneously helping to remind people of the spirit of Christmas - indeed, to create the spirit of Christmas.

The "spirit of Christmas" is not of course what I think Christmas is all about. There is nothing epic about the spirit of Christmas, and Christmas is in my estimation ultimately an epic holiday. It is about the return of the King, the Ancient of Days entering a tragic and broken world to rescue mankind from the human condition and raise us to a new level of creation, one where we have more to look forward to than the tawdry aesthetic beauty of endless tragedy. It is about the drama of Elrash taking form not as an elf but as a man, when it became clear to all creation that the outcome of the war was no longer in doubt. About evil itself being opposed not by mere men and their pitiful efforts to will justice into being, but by God Almighty.

And yet for all that the "spirit of Christmas" is a very worthwhile thing, and I think it is why this season and its very epic holiday has become so popular. Dickens Faire celebrates that like no other event I know of. It's like the magic of Disneyland crossed with the magic of Christmas. Which is why I have to go back.

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