'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
SOME CHRISTMAS DISPLAYS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD
Our nation is in the middle of a severe recession and money is scarce. In addition to that, society has become very energy conscious, to the point of shaming anyone who has an excessive “carbon footprint.” Except Al Gore, of course, who somehow gets a pass as he crisscrosses the world scolding people for not taking global warming seriously, all-the-while spewing more carbon than the Krakatoa volcano. (A volcano which, when it erupted, caused the globe to get cooler. Just saying.)
So you might think during these tough times people would tone down their Christmas light displays. Yeah right. If you believe that, you probably think Lady Gaga is about to tone down her act.
During the entire month of December, we really don’t need street lights. The bright glow emanating from every other home is enough to illuminate the roads.
It’s not that I’m a Scrooge who hates Christmas lights. OK fine, I am a Scrooge, but I actually like Christmas lights. Many houses are tastefully decorated, with a reasonable amount of lighting and some other traditional Christmas items. These homes evoke warm feelings about this festive time of year, kind of like a Currier and Ives print or a Norman Rockwell painting.
Other houses look like a Las Vegas casino on steroids. There are so many pulsating megawatts of brightness, if you stare for more than three seconds you are in danger of melting your retinas.
I suspect the Pentagon has a devil of a time during December. The following tense conversation probably takes place quite often at military installations.
Corporal, sitting at a computer screen: “Sir! One of our satellites just detected a missile launch!”
General: “From where, Russia? Iran?”
Corporal: “No sir, from New Harwinton Avenue in Torrington. Oh wait, never mind. It’s just a house with 78 mechanical reindeer and a strobe light Santa display.”
General, wiping his brow in relief: “Tell the missile silos in Nebraska to stand down. And don’t bother waking the president.”
Anyway, all I’m saying is, some Christmas light displays seem to have lost sight of the true meaning of this holiday. No, I don’t mean the religious meaning of the holiday—our whole society has lost sight of that. (Unless your modern-translation Bible has a new chapter where Frosty and Rudolph tell the Three Wise Men that the Bethlehem shopping mall is having a 50-percent-off sale on frankincense.)
I mean the more generic cultural meaning of this season, where people are a bit more polite, and they try to think less about themselves and more about the needs of others as they buy gifts for their loved ones.
The main message being proclaimed by some of the really garish Christmas light displays seems to be, “Hey, look at me! Yeah, I mean ME! Look at what I did to my house! I spent eight grand on this stuff and then three whole weekends on a ladder installing it. Slow down and take a look, wouldja? You can park on my lawn. C’mon, stop and look at ME!!”
It just strikes me as a bit narcissistic and excessive, that’s all, especially now when money is tight and energy is scarce. I think we can enjoy December without making our homes visible from outer space.
Maybe we should tone it down and return to simpler and more traditional ways of celebrating the holiday. And then on Christmas Eve, we can wait in anticipation as that famous chubby fellow crisscrosses the world all in one night. I hope Al Gore has a safe flight.
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