I've never really understood the whole holiday decorating thing. I have dutifully assisted my brother-in-law in putting up his Christmas lights on more than one occasion - but I have been out of the holiday decorating mix in my own home for so long that I've lost touch. There are a few factors involved, in my estimation. My disposition is not suited to decorating, for one. Since there seems no practical basis for the activity, a part of me just doesn't get it. There are aspects of decorating that also don't work for me philosophically. I know this sounds stupid - but part of me feels like it's just a way to fake yourself into the holiday spirit. The especially "Protestant" part of me (those of you who have known me long and hard know what I'm talking about - the rest of you will just have to try and catch my drift) feels that - hey, if you can't get excited about the birth of the Savior for its own sake - you've missed the point.
But as this 50th Christmas approaches, and I drove home from dinner alone tonight, down a street I haven't traveled on in a long time (even though it's within walking distance from my home), I encountered part of the heart of true suburban Christmas excess. Homes with so many Christmas lights and silhouette reindeer and plastic Santas, plastic choristers, plastic elves - lights, lights and more lights - that you know more than a small element of neighborly competition is involved. "I love Christmas more than you!" Displays of such conspicuous electrical consumption that the owners must have some twinge of regret when the December electric bill comes due. Then I realized that the last time I had traveled down this street, I would have been going to visit my mother and father-in-law, both ghosts of Christmas Past now - and they reminded me that, administered in a proper dose, those Christmas lights can be beautiful in a place and a season where nights come early and stay late. If you're lucky, you reach that point in your life where the ghosts that haunt you aren't frightening anymore; in fact, they can feel like old friends reminding you of things you hadn't quite forgotten - but almost.
I went to get a donut right after that. Luckily for me, they didn't have any raised sugar so I came home and wrote this down. It's fifty-fifty whether I go looking for donuts later. Lord knows I don't need a donut - but the idea has its appeal.
That's the news from where I am. "It's not a sad song, though you may feel it that way..." Hope you have a safe and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever you are.
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