Photo by Marc Steiner

On Christmas Eve (2013), Driving Jersey marked its third anniversary on PBS. Our first ever episode dealt with the holidays and hard times. Americans were hurting economically and we explored how the holidays were different because of it, not better or worse, but different.

This year we decided that we would experience how the holidays are best enjoyed, in all of its pageantry and excess. The holidays, after-all. like birthdays and any celebration of joy, are for all of us to find an oasis of happiness, to seek mirth and beauty in what may sometimes be bleak and miserable. Driving Jersey: The Holiday Drive 2013 are visions of our Christmas present, a present from Driving Jersey to you, a moment to witness joy. 

The first stop was The Historic Village at Allaire in Farmingdale to experience Christmas in 1836. The dedication to the period and the warmth of the spirit of the people there made it easy to suspend disbelief and difficult to leave.

In Medford we took in the Dickens Festival, the annual holiday rite-of-passage for the town. Inspired by the air of the Victorian era, the festival is said, to sometimes, attract as many as 10,000 people. While it is inspired by the time of Dickens, it is more accurately a town-wide celebration of all things Christmas past and present, from the birth of Christ to footlong pretzels and sausage sandwiches.

Finally we visited the Just Braggin’ Hair Salon in Manahawkin, the day before Christmas Eve. Salon owner Rick Bragg suggested it was the busiest time of year and the best time to meet and speak with a large cross-section of the community. Walk-ins were welcome, but it was standing room only. It seemed to be about as busy as the mall, but with all the easy conversation and without all the madness, it was somehow more inspiring of the meaning of the season and a perfect way for us to conclude this year’s holiday drive.

Music for Driving Jersey: The Holiday Drive was provided by Ryan Bott, Jon Francis, Jean Farnworth, Michael Miller, Gregg Parker, Frank Ford, Jerry Mendelson and Special Occasion Barber Shop Quartet.