Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Lights of Old.

I haven't done any sort of conclusive survey of the rest of the nation, but here in SoCal, Christmas lights sure have changed a lot since I was a kid. Gone are the strands of individual lights -- each tear-shaped bulb a different color -- that were ubiquitous. Fewer people decorate their houses now. And those who still do it, do it with a vengeance -- covering every eave, bush and tree possible, then adding all sorts of animatronic reindeers, inflatable snowmen and the like.

And beyond all those extraneous doohickeys, the lights themselves have changed. They are now small bulbs (similar to the kind made for indoor Christmas trees for years) and all one color -- white. What's more, they are usually of the popular "icicle lights" variety, which feature little strands dangling down, meant to mimic icicles forming on the house's eaves. What a hopeless, pathetic attempt this is to recreate the look of a "traditional" white Christmas here in sunny Southern California. It doesn't snow here, people! Get over it already!

Which leads me down another tangent -- so many folks' slavish devotion to the iconography of what a "traditional" Christmas is supposed to look like, which is basically the imagery associated with Victorian-era holidays in England. You might be able to get away with that stuff in New England or Northern Europe, but everywhere else it just looks forced and unnatural. There are so many ways to celebrate and decorate for Christmas (or the winter holiday of your choice) across this widely diverse planet of ours that it feels wrong to be forced into such geographically and culturally narrow iconography. Mele Kalikimaka, dammit!

And, oh yeah -- power to the old school lightmasters and their multicolored strands!

1 comment:

Nyssa23 said...

So, does that mean you're not interested in that old Victorian plum pudding after all? Damn, and I had a box of matches all ready to go.

And I think fewer people decorating their houses has more to do with utility rates than anything else (except maybe the hassle of testing each one of those little bulbs when the string goes out.) Or, maybe Bill O'Reilly is right and there's been a horrible attack on the traditions of the All-American Extra-White Christmas. Either one.