December is shaping up to be a lively month as I spend the holiday season in Harford County as there is nothing like my hometown of Havre de Grace during the holidays. I started this festive season the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the opening reception of my Zenobia Darling… Paranormal Influencer exhibition and artist residency happening for the entire months of December and January at Haven on Market Street in Havre de Grace. Many of my world-exhibited Zenobia Darling Creative branded fine art will be displayed and for sale, and I am using Haven as art studio space during the exhibition, so stop by and check it out as supporting all local artists and small businesses is a must during the holidays.
After doing my yearly tradition of putting up my Christmas tree in my personal art studio while watching Scrooged, I got to work enjoying this merry season. My family and I celebrate Christmas, so this will be about how I celebrate that holiday here in Harford County. But this time of year is festive for many cultures, and openly observing all these diverse celebrations together is what makes Harford County so magical. I am also going to be writing about some of the gifts, and where I made or got these gifts that I plan on giving to members of my family…if you are one of those people, you are officially warned and been given a spoiler alert!
My first holiday artmaking of the season was a mosaic ornament-making workshop at Haven led by artisan Barbara Wagner. Barbara’s family owns the Bahoukas Antique Mall in Havre de Grace. As we designed and grouted sparkling Christmas ornaments over two days, we talked about our holiday plans and the spirits that haunt Bahoukas. The magic of making these ornaments is that you can customize them for excellent gift-giving. The ones I featured in this article are nice, made by Haven co-owner Linnea, whereas I made naughty ornaments featuring curse words inspired by my idol, Baltimore filmmaker John Waters, that I plan on giving to my mother as we share a love of this style of crude humor.
After making imaginative mosaic Christmas ornaments, I had to go to work launching my Zenobia Darling Creative Patreon and crafting the groundwork for several upcoming art projects. After numerous long days in my art studio combined with a busy holiday social schedule, I needed a break as I was feeling a creative block. I decided to go for one of my famous walks around Havre de Grace with my camera. I wanted to stop by the Havre de Grace branch of Harford County Public Library (HCPL) to browse what various non-fiction art and pop culture books strike my interest in an attempt to release my creativity. Public libraries are the most punk rock thing we have in our society and are an invaluable resource to everyone as they spread joy, creativity, and knowledge free of charge to the community.
As I was about to enter the branch on that walk, I was reminded of just how magical a place the library is. A young man named Cannon was out front with a Christmas-themed gingerbread house, and he stopped me to show off his creation. The enthusiasm and happiness radiating from Cannon was transmissible. I asked him if I could take a photo of his gingerbread house and I entered the library. As I walked around and saw other gingerbread houses on the circulation desk, I empathically felt the same joy that Cannon felt. When I got back to my art studio, I reached out to HCPL to find out what program Cannon was in as something that is sparking that much holiday joy through art is something that we all should be supporting. Cannon is in HCPL’s Teen Program where at all branch locations in Harford County, teens can participate in the services of the library including arts engagement with all the information about these programs on their website including programs for adults as well. Jamie Reilly, the Havre de Grace HCPL branch manager wrote back…
After my run-in with Cannon and his gingerbread house, I had some appearances booked that might be surprising for the holidays with ParaAnne, the host of the podcast Coffee with the Dead. Once Halloween happens, the spooky celebrating of October ends as we move towards Thanksgiving, but the Holidays still have a paranormal charm to them. The countless retellings of the Christmas tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is a ghost story, and this mystical fable helped fuel the modern celebrating of Christmas during the spiritually obsessed Victorian 1800s when Charles Dickens wrote the tale. After my appearance with ParaAnne, the evening had an eerie atmosphere with fog that I loved. Before heading back to my art studio, I went for a walk around downtown Havre de Grace with my camera and captured the lights in their nocturnal glory. I stopped by Zodiac Records in Havre de Grace and picked up my dad a vintage Miami Vice record, as records make the most artistic and Rockstar approved holiday gifts. As I walked back to my car, Charles Kerner, who owns Frist Call Paranormal, was having a Haunted Objects event at Concord Point Coffee. He sells everything you need to ghost hunt on his website, and this paranormal-obsessed Rockstar would love the holiday gift of a new P-SB7 Spirit Box as it is my favorite piece of equipment.
The holidays are such a marathon of a time, where in this pursuit to have the “perfect holiday”, we seem to overload ourselves and lose sight of what the holidays are truly about. For so many, this time of year is actually the roughest, and it seems this holiday hustle can make kindness and empathy go out the window. Please remember that the holidays are about celebrating and having festively fun shared joy with your family, however that looks like for you. Let’s not warrant a visit from the ghosts that visited Ebenezer Scrooge and let’s look forward to a positive 2023, as it is going to be an excellent year here in Harford County.