Never have I seen so many turkey hats, glitter and faux fur.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving marked a day for Cincinnati families to head to the Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market at the Duke Energy Center—meaning a day of overly-priced-plastic-glitter reindeer, multiple transactions from the ATM and honey-roasted almonds. Fortunately, these are all of the ingredients for a fine afternoon for women of the Midwestern suburbia.
I walk into the massive airport-like vicinity of the Duke Energy Center, where people are rushing around like they have a flight to catch. In reality, they’re just trying to rush to buy glitter Christmas ornaments; because it’s the week before Thanksgiving and apparently that’s when Christmas season begins.
Or for some, Christmas season begins with the rev of a motorcycle engine. Across the gigantic hall of silver and red decorated evergreens, lies the Motorcycle and Bike Expo— where the opposite of the suburban moms are tipping back brewskies and Jack Daniels, wearing bright orange and black Harley Davidson shirts, and instead of kitten heels, these women are wearing their husbands motorcycle boots. Had I any idea that I could hob-knob with some real grease heads for an afternoon instead of fawning over feathered cocktails hats, I would have traded my holiday ticket in for biker ticket stub in a heartbeat. But my bright red ticket was waiting for me, and it was free. Damn previous commitments.
As I walked down the red carpeted halls, all I can smell is caramel and almonds—which is much better than the gasoline and horse dung smell that I had to take a whiff of on Fountain Square. A couple hicks holding a lead rope to a Clydesdale with gold painted hooves were trying to make a buck doing carriage rides around Cincinnati. Because golden painted Clydesdale hooves scream Christmas.
The large convention room is bustling. Kids are whining for toys they’ll never really play with and the elderly are cooing over they’re whining grandchildren. Suburban women, likely from Indian Hill, are dressed to the nines while they tote their husbands around snacking on soft pretzels.
I walk from booth to booth, scanning the goods to see what kind of things I’m supposed to purchase during the holidays. I see the typical holiday party essentials…cocktails dresses, sparkly jewels…corn hole? Oh, it’s corn hole with Santa’s elves painted on the top. I had no idea tossing red and green bean bags into a plywood square helped celebrate the birth the Jesus. And apparently, so does soap that smells like cotton candy, and chia pets.
I’m looking at some faux fur evening jackets that looked like former beavers covered in sequins, when an overly enthusiastic Chinese woman waves me to her booth. Everyone else has been passing her and the rest of her friends at the Shen Yun dance company booth, so I oblige and walk over to say hello.
She hands me a bright orange brochure with an acrobatic Chinese woman playing a bongo-like drum in mid-air. I look intrigued, so she continues her presentation.
“Look look!” She says as she flips through a photo album that I think was entitled “Complete History of Chinese Dance and Culture: Volume One.” I’ll never know for sure, since it was written in Chinese.
“So much history! So much history!” She says as she frantically flips through every vibrant photo of gold and green costumes, dragon-y backgrounds and people arranged in an Asian-style ballet.
After what seemed like 20 minutes, but was probably 10, I told her I look forward to seeing the Shen Yun show at the Arnoff Center—and I do. I tell her that I enjoy absorbing culture, everything from Chinese dance to corn hole.
by Sidney Cherie Hilley