Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting up the Christmas Lights

I had decided this year to forgo putting up outdoor Christmas lights.

As much as I love the twinkling there were a number of factors that were sending me toward just ignoring the whole thing not the least of it being the absence of my dear neighbors who summer in Minnesota and then head to California for the winter.

Over the years I have lived here in Seal Beach, Ray and Mona have become good friends-she had a small stroke last year and he has some medical issues as well so they felt that had to stay east this year.

One of the important driving forces in putting up a big Christmas display was how much THEY loved it.

I often would spot Mona outside gazing at our wonderland of snowflakes, lollipops, Santa and snowmen-a lighted nativity, candles and of course many blinking, dancing lights.

For a couple years I had an acquaintance do the lights but three years ago I started a new tradition-my Niece ANDREA and he husband DAN come down and do the lights for me and then we go over to Long Beach to a great old timey Chinese restaurant for a major pig out.

Last year it was a chilly damp beach day and the "kids" were suffering from the cold but MONA made it special by plying them with hot, fresh peanut butter cookies which they are still talking about this year.

I share this with you because we need to make new traditions and forge forward in keeping our American Christmas spirit alive.

So many people get sad and depressed at this time of year, not enough money, not enough time, easier to just quit and do without, not worth the effort...

I thought I could do without but I am so glad my niece insisted in a way.

I am a child of the 50's, a magical time in so many ways...even though RALPHIE and his Christmas Story family are charecters of more than a decade earlier they share a spirit that was still very much alive when I was a child.

Buying the tree, going out to see the Christmas lights, Christmas pageants at school and church, visiting friends, caroling at the old folks home all the bits and pieces of our collective history as a nation are wrapped up in those holly decked, candy cane years of Rudolph and Frosty.

What Happened?

I remember well the Jewish family in our neighborhood were the first in line to make special holiday cookies and share their stories about "Jewish Christmas"-I know it's not PC and Christ has nothing to do with Channukah but in an inclusive society we don't have to tiptoe around and apologize constantly to each other for every little slip of an idiom.

I went to school for many years with a family of Christian Scientists.

The kids didn't stay in the room for HEALTH or SCIENCE classes-because of their religious beliefs they went off to the library but they were always included in Holiday events.

The Jehovah's Witness kids didn't say the pledge of alliengence to the flag and they didn't participate in Halloween but always were involved in other activities...and so on for the Buddist kid and the Mormons etc etc.

In the days before the hyphenated society and the quick to point fingers keepers of Political correctness we DID all get I know you are rolling you eyes and saying what about the BLACK people and racisim, things weren't so good for them.

Honestly---really---we didn't know there was a problem.

I never heard the "N" word till the 60's and the race riots etc happened.

We lived in white bread suburbia, Norman Rockwell, Donna Reed, Father Knows BEST where Santa and Jesus coexisted with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Betsy Wetsy and Red nosed Reindeers.

My community was 50% Mexican (I was tempted to say Latino buts lets be honest instead of PC) we didn't neighbors were Italians, the people across the way were Dutch, Mrs.Andreson and her husband spoke GERMAN as well as English-so who cared that Sonny's grandma spoke SPANISH?

We all bought our clothes at J C PENNY'S, we shopped at the same markets, ate in the same restaurants and on Sunday;s we went off (or not) to various one cared what colour you were so long as you could get along with everyone else.

We had more problems with the family of poor folks from Oklahoma around the corner who had too many kids and couldn't pay their bills because the Father drank too much and beat his wife than the various ethnic types-and by the way the "OKIES" managed to put up a string of Christmas lights or two and a lighted SANTA for the holidays.

Here we are all these years later and things are more advanced in so many ways but in other ways NOT better...medicine is better, medial care...but few can afford it.

Racism is better but has been replaced by ageism, sizeism and all the other incidious "isms" of the new millenium.

Money is scarce, people are grumpy and angry, entitlement has been worse for this country than segregation and Washington is full of crooks with an agenda that isn't pro-citizen...amidst all this we have to worry about someone being offended because we put a Christmas tree in the park???

Under seperation of church and state I guess there shouldn't be a Christmas tree in the park, nor a nativity or a menorah or any religious symbol-trust me those guys in wigs and knee britches knew what they were doing when they seperated the CHURCH from Government---at this moment we are all in danger from Islamic law and if we don't stop it the ISLAMIC sgenda will rip this country apart the way it is damaging England.

All this aside-I like it when CHRISTMAS and the holidays TWINKLE---people are a little nicer, the world is a little prettier...oh not the world where people pepper spray each other in WALMART or rob each other in darkened parking lots on the way to BLACK FRIDAY sales...that's a world away from mine-I am as oblivious of it as I was naieve in the 50's.

In MANY countries around the globe cities are immobilized by CHRISTMAS.

Christmas markets abound in Europe and no one complains that it somehow excludes others or is insensetive to Scientologists...everyone is busy out looking at the sights, enjoy the special food and music and patting each other on the back.

In the home of the free we can't do that so much-there might be a drive by shooting-WHERE, HOW did we go so wrong?

I will hold on to Christmas in my own way, with my nostalgic ornaments and Michale Buble' crooning carols on the radio. Ralphie and his family having CHINESE TURKEY and Santa coming to town, Angels and snowflakes and glitter and Christmas cookies and yes even's the MOST wonderful time of the year and it;s a time when EVERYONE should be with everyone else and enjoy the Holidays (thats a word evolved from HOLY days by the way) in their own way and let others celebrate as they will.

I am so glad I didn't do without my Christmas lights this year and I hope you have yours as well...


  1. They do look fantastic and I agree on every point =)

  2. Am new to your blog but I loved reading this post. I too, was raised in your time frame, everything you wrote I remember so vividly and have wondered the same thing. Where DID it all go? When did we lose the beauty of the season and get swallowed up with what the "world" thinks is ok? I too, have fought with the lights and the sounds and smells of Christmas, to just give it all up, and I did ... last year and vowed I will never do it again. It's for my grown children and someday for my grandchildren. Thank you Rick for putting things so eloquently.


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