Do you ever find yourself amused (and amazed) by peoples' white trash antics?
Friday, December 3, 2010
Christmas, batteries not included
I love Christmas, have I mentioned that? I really do, and I have ever since I was a kid. The music, the bustle, the secret-keeping and the surprises, and of course the food…I love all these things. When I was little, my dad would painstakingly string those big, colorful Christmas lights in our shrubs out front. He'd wrap them around the columns on the front porch. My mom would wrap the front door to look like a Christmas present, and she'd put those candelabras with orange bulbs in them in each of the front windows. Large glowing candles flanked our front door, and a big red ribbon and red-and-white striped paper wrapped the gaslight at the street. I thought our house was the most beautiful thing in the world when decorated for Christmas. I thought it was magical.
Now either I have become jaded over the years, or Christmas decorating has just been driven into the ditch. Is it just here in the South? I doubt it. Some of the tackiest people I know have never even visited here, if you know what I mean.
I was driving home from work the other night, and I had a little bit of time to enjoy the drive and still make my deadline at the paper. I took a detour through a neighborhood near mine, just to see what neighborhood displays I could and enjoy that little pleasure. Several homes were very tastefully decorated with wreaths hanging on the windows, white lights wrapped around tree trunks and around branches. I sighed inwardly, letting the images take me back to my childhood and that magical Christmas feeling.
Still floating along on my little Christmas cloud, I swung my car back out onto the road that leads to home. Approaching my neighborhood, something looked different to me, not quite right. I couldn't quite put my finger on it – nothing alarming, really, just different. Turning onto my street and approaching my house, I saw why. A glowing aura surrounded all the houses in my cul-de-sac. The glow originated from my neighbor's yard; it was that time again. Every year I forget, kind of like a post-traumatic-stress thing. About 8 or 10 years ago, my husband and my neighbor's husband got a little back-and-forth pranking going on. The kids got in on the act too, and the pranks became legendary. They included things like hauling a construction port-a-potty to our neighbor's house and decorating it with lights and wrapping paper. The next year, our neighbors weaved an elaborate web of Christmas lights that unfolded every time our garage door opened. We wrapped their car; they decorated our dogs. All this was in good fun; we'd have a good-natured laugh and leave it at that – until next year.
But a few years back, an unspoken competition began to form between our two families. The goal: to be the home with the most outdoor Christmas lights. That was OK too, until we came home one evening to see our neighbors' driveway lined with blue chaser lights. Sound familiar? It does if you're ever flown. I spent that entire Christmas season worried that a 747 would land on our house, having mistaken their drive for a runway at Hartsfield International Airport. It could happen. After that Christmas, I strongly suggested that my husband back off. Of course, the kids wanted to keep the contest going; the more hideous the display the better. In this one instance my influence did matter, and my husband acquiesced. We would stick to sparkling white lights and wreaths.
Our neighbors, however, did not stop. For several years now, they have added to their outdoor Christmas display. They added white wire Christmas trees that dance and blare carols and change colors to the beat of the music. They project pictures onto the front of their house, kind of like a hand puppet show with loose ties to the season. For heaven's sake, they've bought several of those horrible blow-up monstrosities that feature elves throwing snowballs, one showcasing mother Mary cradling baby Jesus, and one with kids bouncing around inside like a moon-jump. The inflatables that really bother me are the polar bears, snowmen and penguins. At night they're only tacky, but in the daytime they lay on the lawn, deflated and sad. Their lawn looks like a serial killer stole up on the garish display during the night and executed all the merry-makers. Chilling.
Do you think their kids will remember this display with wonder and awe when they grow up? They may, I don't know. Kind of makes me think about our house when I was a kid. I thought it was absolutely breathtaking, but did our neighbors? Not that my dad cared; for all I know, he had a competition going with them.
at 3:58 PM