Oct 15, 2010

The Festival on Friday Night

The New Albany Fall Festival, Friday, October 1, 2010.

A fall Friday evening here in America. The high school football team plays tonight, and the pep rally marches down the main drag through town—high school band playing, cheerleaders cheering, drama team singing with Glee. Over in the town square the annual fall festival is in full swing. There are carnival rides, cotton candy and popcorn, hot dogs and beer, a stage where local bands will strut their stuff. A mound of hay has been dumped on some green space next to the Rusty Bucket restaurant and kids are tumbling around in the straw with abandon. Various local businesses have set up booths to hawk their wares. In addition to the Boy Scouts and a couple churches are selling baked goods to raise funds for their organizations. There is an autumnal nip in the air—this is sweater and jacket weather.

It’s Friday night. We just got paid. The weekend is here. You can just feel the collective sigh of relief.

Babs and I along with our Little Feller had a nice time at the annual New Albany Fall Festival two weeks ago. We wandered over to the village center for a little while late Friday afternoon and relished being part of a Friday night scene that undoubtedly played out in thousands of towns and cities all across America that evening:

The Feller and I paid four tickets to take a few trips down the giant slide.

We browsed the booths before settling on some rather bland fried rice from the Thai Chi stand.

We joined other kids and their parents to stare in awe at the policeman on his big white horse.

At gatherings like this, we often find ourselves thinking back to the other small community we once belonged to—our home in Saipan. These types of events remind of us of Flame Tree Festival and the Marianas March Against Cancer and the Taste of the Marianas and the other similar events that bring out the whole community. “Don’t you feel like we should be meeting Carol here?” we say to each other. Indeed, the New Albany Festival seems very reminiscent of a classic Saipan fiesta (albeit, if the entire population of Saipan consisted of the upper class Wireless Ridge and SIS/Whispering Palms ex-pat crowd). Though New Albany is upscale and largely white, community is community, and a Friday night festival feels the same regardless of the income level and ethnicity of those in attendance.

As day is dying in the west, we take our leave and head for the car parked along the side of the road a block or two away. We can hear the announcer intoning a welcome at the football game; we can see the glaring lights of the Eagles’ gorgeous stadium. As Stiff Kitty (to all appearances, a tribute to 80’s hair metal bands) gets ready to take the stage in the town square, the rest of New Albany will carry on with the festival on Friday night. Meanwhile, we have a festival of our own to attend, one that comes not annually but weekly—a celebration of our Creator, a reminder of our Savior. We too have a festival on Friday night, equally rich with tradition. Back at home as darkness falls outside, I’m bathing Elijah and we’re listening to his CD of hymns for children. The familiar melodies bring back memories of countless Friday nights past, going all the way back to my childhood. Then the festival on Friday night meant being fresh from the bath, eating special delicious food, luxuriating in a spanking clean house, and spending time with family and God.

In the hurly-burly hustle and bustle of life as an adult we’ve let a lot of the specialness of Friday night slip away. I’m thinking it might be time to restore the festival on Friday night to its former glory. Don’t get me wrong. Friday night is still special, but I think it could be so much more. Wouldn’t it be nice to welcome the Sabbath once more, instead of having it just let itself in? After all, if there is one thing everyone knows in one sense or another—it’s that Friday night is for festivals.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right. As the kids grow it'll be really nice to have
that extra special treatment for Friday night festival that leave them with the same warm lasting memories of Sabbath that we have. Awesome post Sean!

Love ya!

Mai said...

Hmmmmm..... I love Friday nights! I like to soak it all in after a long week of toil. But you're right, Friday nights are meant to be rich. I miss TGIS..... but now that I'm living with people, we're wanting to start up some sort of something on Friday nights here at the house. I'm looking forward to that.

(I also miss all those Saipan Festivals!)