While the rest of Ann Arbor goes apeshit for deals at Midnight Madness downtown, over in Kerrytown at the farmers market and shops they celebrate KindleFest, a German-themed holiday market. Since things had quieted down at job #1 (located in Kerrytown), my generous manager let me go an hour early (turning an 8 hour shift into a 7 hour shift) so I had time to finally visit KindleFest after passing 5 Decembers in Ann Arbor (I was always working) before my shift started at job #2 for Midnight Madness.
(I worked a total of 11 hours that day, 7 hours the next, and 6 hours the next. By Sunday, my last day in a 9 hour week, I barely knew my own name and was mostly babbling gibberish to customers who asked if I was ok and needed to sit down. If I sat down, how would I sell you your useless Christmas crap?? But I digress.)
I've been hearing a lot about Christmas markets in (mostly Scandinavian and Germanic) Europe lately. Greg and I even watched an episode of No Reservations in which Anthony Bourdain not only visits one, but enjoys himself! I found it all pretty intriguing. I have also been to a lot of festivals at the Kerrytown market and seen pictures of previous years' KindleFest. There is a children's lantern parade, the arrival of St. Nicolas, and occasionally a Krampus, a dark devil-like thing who puts the bad children into sacks and beats them with a stick or drags them to hell. (Hey, it's better than the Dutch Black Peter.)
Sadly, I missed the lantern parade (though I think I watched it last year through the windows of the store where I was working - December is always a blur). I did decide to take advantage of the deals. After leaving job #1, I made a beeline for Mudpuddles, the toy store on the second floor of the Kerrytown Shops, where they were offering 20% off everything in the store that wasn't Lego brand. 20% isn't much compared to what the Big Box stores are offering, but for a small business, that's a lot. It means cutting their profits nearly in half just to participate in the feeding frenzy that is Christmas. Mudpuddles is a store that I love, but generally can't afford (not saying their prices are unreasonable, I am just poor). I bought two presents for my nephews at 20% that night. I like to think the sale helped us both out.
Outside, the German-theme was in full swing. Tables and trucks selling bratwurst, lebkuchen, chocolate kringles were lined up! There were also, of course, the local artisans and vendors selling handmade toys, ornaments, and more, not to mention batches of homemade jams, brittles, soaps, and candles. I picked up an ornament of the Eye of Horus carved from ash wood for Greg. I don't think either of us is going to have to put up a tree this year, but the ornament was still way too cool to pass up. (Greg is a great admirer of ancient Egypt and has an altar to the goddess Bast set up in our bedroom. Our cats Memphis and Sawyer love it.)
Inevitably, I headed over to Main St to do my penance at Midnight Madness. There was a surprise setting up outside Crazy Wisdom: the Leslie Science and Nature Center was having a meet and greet with two rescued owls. The little barn owl was so stinking cute! One of the people with the owls let me feel a real owl's wing (detached from a deceased owl, alas) which was much softer than I had expected. He pointed out that owls must be silent in order to catch their prey, hence the fluffy softness of their feathers. I also handled a real owl's foot with claws (again, detached). Those are some pretty fierce claws even in their current state.
I learned that Leslie offers owl-themed birthday parties that include going on a nature hike. I don't know if it's for kids only, though I suspect children are the target group. You can also "adopt" an non-releasable animal, which I think sounds like fun. I once "adopted" a humpback whale name Patches when I was a kid. I found all the newsletters they sent and updates on Patches' whereabouts terribly exciting - and he was all the way in the Atlantic Ocean, a place I wouldn't visit until I was an adult, and I've never gone whale-watching. Imagine how much more thrilling adopting an animal you can actually go visit.
By the end of the night, I was exhausted. I had really intended on only working on shift that day so that I would have time to fully explore KindleFest, but it just didn't work out that way. Maybe next year. (I hope next year also has owls.)