Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Hollidazzle's" Sources of Happiness

“Hollidazzle’s” Sources of Happiness

Since I will be living in Singapore for six months, beginning in the New Year, taking time to visit children and grandchildren before this extended sojourn was important to me. The weekend before Christmas, I visted my daughter in Florida. She is part of an embracing community that is an energy-field of artistic creativity. A creative couple who seem remarkably synched with one another, Todd and Carolinda (check them out on Facebook), often play leadership roles. They live in a house that defies description. Every surface, not only horizontal, but vertical is pressed into service as display space for one of their varied artistic creations.

My daughter, Todd and Carolinda, have become a triumvirate that envisioned creating an art center in the small town, Safety Harbor, where T&C live and where Heather owns a home. They raised funds from a Pepsi-sponsored competition on Facebook and matching funds from other sources, T&C donated a building, an architect agreed to provide services at reduced cost, a PR firm donated free marketing services and the Safety Harbor Arts and Music Center (SHAMc) was on its way to becoming a reality.

On Saturday, we all participated in the annual Safety Harbor Parade, along with a multitude of other organizations – resplendently costumed Shriners, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Masons, “Rockettes” (women in 50s dress), the Safety Harbor Alaskan Sled-Dog club (the dogs were obviously uncomfortable on the hot pavement and in the hot, Florida sun) and many, many more. …Including the Hollidazzle team comprising three brightly decorated vehicles, accompanied by a squad of wildly costumed volunteers who handed out brochures and hyped the nightly show and fundraiser at Todd and Carolinda’s to be held every night through December 30th. I rode in the cab of my daughter’s truck, with her miniature Daschund alternating between her lap and mine, peering out our respective windows to greet parade-goers.

For the show, Todd, Carolinda and volunteers decorated their home and grounds with thousands of lights and artifacts, crafted from recycled materials – especially from aluminum soda cans and bottles. The canopy of tall trees sparkled with additional laser activated projections. There were video displays and a room that changed colors every two or three minutes. For visitors, the experience was a bit like walking through a fairyland maze, with new delights awaiting at every turn.

Holding forth in the “Hollidazzle store,” one stop on the maze, was my task for two evenings, shared with my daughter. Wares for sale included various artistic creations, all crafted from recyclables and SHAMc T shirts. Our companion was a lifesize puppet created by Safety Harbor fifth graders. I manned a display where visitors, for a one-dollar donation, could add a link, along with a personal message on “the world’s longest holographic bracelet chain." My spiel included a promise that the chain would not only be displayed at the soon-to-be-completed art center, but also proposed for enshrinement in the Guinness Book of Records. Holding forth to a plentiful stream of visitors, I was reminded of the days when I helped my first wife, Jan, creator and proprietor of Windy Meadows Pottery, with her craft-fair sales. After promoting the bracelet chain for many hours, on two successive evenings, with nearly two hundred links in place, I felt a bit talked out. But other Hollidazzle volunteers would be staffing the event through the 30th of December, no doubt producing a chain of awesome proportions.

What is remarkable about this lengthy process – collecting recyclables and creating artwork began in August – is that, apart from a modest architect’s fee to design the Art Center plans, the entire event was a product of volunteer labor. Reflecting on my experience, I was reminded of a podcast interview on “sources of happiness” given by Lord Jonathan Sachs, the United Kingdom’s Chief Rabbi. In my view,” Rabbi Sachs observed, “there are three sources of happiness: (1) doing good for others; (2) having a network of relationships with which one shares a sense of community; and (3) a sense that one’s life makes a difference.” How different, he concluded, are these sources than messages commercial advertisers bombard us with about the sources of happiness. During my two and half days with the Holidazzle volunteers, I was embraced by a community of happy human beings, celebrating the holidays and their contributions to a worthwhile project. The only “costs” were gifts of their time, creativity, teamwork and respectful affection for one another.

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