Adele Elliott: Mardi Gras mambo

January 23, 2010 10:49:00 PM

Adele Elliott - [email protected]


I got a strange phone message this week: "Miss Moonpie has taken down her Christmas garlands." Most folks don''t feel the need to announce the ups and downs of their holiday décor. But, I had given her a gentle ribbing about leaving them up so long. She thought I should be informed. 


My critique was all in good fun, since Chris and I still have a very dry Christmas tree in the living room. The ornaments are back in their boxes, most of the lights are tangled on the floor, and the mistletoe has crumbled into potpourri, sans fragrance. 


However, none of us feel too guilty since there are still crèches and Santas in yards all over town. Some have tumbled onto their sides, just a bit weary from the cold. They must be ready for the 10 months, or so, of hibernation. 


I try (yet, almost never succeed) to get everything Christmas-themed stored away around Jan. 6. Twelfth Night, the Feast of the Epiphany, is the official opening of the carnival season. Time now to display beads and boas and masks, almost anything purple, green and gold is acceptable. 


Mardi Gras is early this year, Feb. 16. That is still a very cold time, even in the sub-tropics. Unlike Columbus, New Orleans doesn''t have well-defined seasons. Winter is usually a string of balmy days punctuated by moments of bitter cold. The swampy humidity makes the summer months feel like walking around in a sauna, and turns the occasional arctic blast into sheer agony. Icy winds pierce clothing, slicing through to the skin. Still, we celebrate. 


Chris and I are sometimes surprised by unexpected stings of homesickness. Carnival is one of the triggers. There are some hurts from which we never recover. The human heart is resilient, but only to a point. Too many tears, too many tugs, leave it stretched, sagging and shapeless. 


We plan to combat that sense of loss by bringing a bit of Carnival to Columbus. On Saturday, Feb. 13, please join us for the first annual Mardi Gras Mambo. This is an adults-only walking parade through downtown. It may be very chilly, but we''ll stop at a few watering holes for antifreeze. 


Consider your costume carefully. You may need to layer for warmth. And, yes, costumes are required. Anything goes, though, so be creative, or irreverent, or humorous. Political satire is always encouraged. We will meet at Zachary''s at 7 p.m. Stay tuned for more details. 


If you can''t wait for Fat Tuesday (OK, for us it will be Fat Saturday), you may still have time to catch Paul Swain''s appearance at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center at 300 Main St. today at 2 p.m. 


Paul is a great entertainer who will read from (and sign) his books. Although best known for his musical talent, he is a storyteller steeped in Southern oral tradition. As always, "No Dead Authors" is free and open to the public, thanks to the generosity of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau. 


So, no matter if you switch your embellishments from Christmas to Carnival, or just leave Santa and his reindeer in the yard through spring and summer and autumn, I invite you to find a reason to celebrate -- and to keep warm. 


(Special note to Chris: Happy, Happy 50th!)

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.