December 17, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Every December I appreciate the thoughtfulness of our neighbors in being behind the times. The Christmas lights are almost uniformly tacky, but ‘70s-tacky rather than ‘90s-tacky (the latter best represented by inflatables). ‘70s lights lend themselves to nostalgia for someone my age and I soak in the ambience on a walk around the block as if I’m in a James Lilek book.

The song “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” comes to mind, so redolent of family associations. Dad would sing it whenever he spied the season’s first lights and how exciting for children to know that Christmas was coming! How I loved to hear that song. The lights then and in our neighborhood now are bulbous reds and greens and blues, not the lean, mean whites that don many latter day too-tasteful displays. The big bulbs, which could possibly cause a fire and thus fell out of favor due to our safety mania, have a mesmerizing quality that lingers long in the mind such that the next day you look at traffic lights differently, seeing in them the Christmas colors of red and green.

Ever the lazy moderate, I put out a string of lights on the tree out front, enough to add a bit of seasonal color but nothing like the four or five hard workers down the road with houses positively drenched in color and paegentry. Most people seem to be all-or-nothing on Christmas lights: marathoners or couch potatoes, Fundamentalists or agnostics. I’m grateful for the lights the Fundamentalists put out. I walk the dog and have something to look at, and the lights blur slightly with the watery eyes produced by the cold and wind.

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