Monday, December 10, 2007

Xmas Light Don'ts and Do's

“Power, time, gravity, love. The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.”
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

To that list of invisible forces, add Xmas Spirit. After dinner one night last week, we went driving through the local “Candy Cane Lane” – blocks of insane people who conspire to put up more Xmas lights than their neighbors. Upon passing the 1.5 houses per block that has no lights, the stock joke used to be, that’s where the Jews live. Now, in a sign of the changing demographic on the not-so-new millennium, it’s either the Jews or the Muslims.

Anyway, driving through this fresh hell after dinner out one recent evening, I was subjected to K’s punchline: “Jeee-sus, Maaa-ry, and Joe-sef!” every time we passed a home with a crèche with JM&J up in lights on their front lawn. Which is bad enough on its own, but it’s worse in a six square block slow ride, a parade of autos with their lights out, when you’re having second thoughts about the second and third cups of wine and coffee for dinner.

But what’s worse, is putting Santa in the crèche scene. It looks pathetic: just don’t do it. Either make a stand for keeping Christ in Xmas or for washing him aside in a flood of tired generic “season’s greetings” from inflated snowman. But, Jesus Christ, stop having Santa kneel, cap-less, in line behind a shepherd or Balthazar, or Disney character.

I wonder what happened centuries ago as neighborhoods became more diverse. Did pagans and druids and what-not once campaign through the candy cane lanes of their pagan neighborhoods to keep Christ out of Winter Solstice?

Upon returning home mildly dazed by the lights, or by the high blood sugar after two mini-éclairs, or just simply relieved to make it, we decided to make our own Xmas light sign, and we opted for non-religious to avoid offending unbelievers, or as they prefer to be called, the “differently faithful.”

It took K all day, including a trip to three stores that weren’t Wal*Mart™ before he found the makings of the “L”. With due respect to religious parochialism, there’s something to be said for celebrating a generic Xmas where we wish one another peace on earth.

(Don’t make me spoil the joke by telling you. Hint: it’s in French.)


richard said...

"Neighborhood diversity" is a uniquely American inovation, and even here, of fairly recent origin.

kate said...

I have never quite understood the need for these great light shows ... it's as much Canada as in the US now. We have all the same fat snowmen, etc. although I avoid ever going into these neighbourhoods (an advantage to living in the inner city and going most places on foot) ... I wonder why we don't see these sorts of light displays around my neighbourhood.

I liked hearing about the mini-éclairs and the wine ... and liked your 'L' much better.