Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Don't Believe in Gawd

There is one thing that I want to approach here that will cause many people to cringe when I mention it. I don't care if you call me Scrooge on this, but maybe, just maybe if you look around, you will see what I mean, we need to talk about Christmas decorating.

When I was a child, living in the country near Bargersville, Indiana, it was somewhat custom, though not always observed, that we go for a drive and see the lights that people had put on their trees and houses. Granted, this was during the 1960s and though that was in the last century it really isn't all that far in the past. On these drives it was nice to sit in the back seat of the car and drink in the simple beauty of these decorations. A homeowner that turned these lights on before the first of December was considered somewhat arrogant. After all, Christmas was a long way off. Christmas trees were not erected in homes the day after Thanksgiving or even before because they were real trees, something that wasn't found in my family's home until 1966.

Decorating was simple, our first Christmas tree was trimmed with new lights, the big ones, of course, and the rest were ornaments that my mother made. There was one ornament that I wish was still around. It was created with a few simple ingredients that would be considered the epitome of, “white trash”, design now. The base was a Banquet chicken pot pie pan, trimmed in red ric rac and inside was a picture cut from a previous year's Christmas card. There were probably several of these on the tree, but the one that I remember most had a picture of the Blessed Virgin and the newborn Jesus glued in the bottom of it. (My Grandma Bryant used to say, “poor people have poor ways,” the difference here is that we weren't poor, we were rich in ways other than money.)

To me the sign of a well decorated house was if you had the plastic candelabras in the window, the beige ones that held Christmas tree lights, this of course would mean the big lights that now sit in the Smithsonian because they are either not eco-friendly or for some other such reason. The homes that had these in their windows were real winners if the candles were the colors of real flame, i.e., orange. If you had blue ones or green ones you didn't meet the Don Bryant style standards, even in 1966. Let's face it flame may be blue now and again, but it's rarely green.

As time went by so did the level at which people began to decorate outdoors. I remember seeing in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, at a fairly young age, the patterns needed to cut reindeer out of plywood, they stood alone, pretty cool stuff really for its time. It wasn't long before those began to show up in our area. The plastic nativity scene was coming into its own and I remember seeing them in the Montgomery Ward Catalog and the Wish Book. (If you don't know what a Wish Book is, Google it, I'm sure Wikipedia can help you there because your education is seriously wanting.) Once in a while a farmer with nothing to do after the crops were in would produce a Santa Claus cut from plywood and painted, often times these looked as though they were taken from children's coloring books, fence posts held them into place and there might be a spotlight rigged up to shine on it.

These weren't enough! “And there were with the Blessed Family a multitude of the heavenly choir and red plastic candles that read Noel down the side of them.” Then as time passed there were wire reindeer in white, covered with white wires and white lights and then there was more and more and more and more. And then, just when I thought that it couldn't get any worse I happened upon two places where I learned that I couldn't be any more wrong.

At the corner of 16th Street and New Jersey in central city Indianapolis there is a house where every post, sawed off tree and albeit some rather ingenious uses of PVC pipe, have been covered with shiny mylar garland, meant to put on circa 1980 Christmas trees, but lo, this is not enough, each of these items are covered with lights, thousands of them, tiny little colorful lights that make the corner a nightmare for the Air Force and the Indianapolis International Airport. (The neighbors who, “who had lived in darkness have now seen a great light. Like it or not.) Traffic slows to a crawl here as if the plastic, well hidden, infant Jesus might turn and smile on the driver of each passing car. I have to confess that this is so hideous and so disgusting to me that I will go blocks out of my way to miss it. (Just for the record, this is on my usual path home.) Each year more items are added to their disarray, I mean display, probably purchased at 70% off after Christmas.

As much as that bothers me there is one that bothers me as much or maybe even more. Between Franklin and Whiteland, Indiana there is a home in a quiet subdivision that decorates their home in cahoots with a local radio station. The lawn is littered with light covered trees, shrubs, cut out stacked gift boxes, bells, lights across the roof of the house and even around the doors and windows, and yes, you guessed it, every light is synchronized to the holiday tunes that are being played on the radio. Ask me not how it is done, for I DON'T CARE!

To quote Ellen Degeneres, “my point, and I do have one,” is this: There are many who think that I would just as soon steal the Who Pudding and the last can of Who Hash as to endure these things before Christmas. They are right. Seems that I want to join the many who worship God, I don't want to be a part of those who worship Gawd.


Blogger Rachel said...

I agree Don. My house is decorated with a small Christmas tree with a few ornaments on it--all of which have deep meaning in my life.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Don Bryant said...

The decorations and items we use to remind us of the season speak volumes when there are less words. It warms my heart that you decorate this way Rachel, it teaches a wonderful lesson.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Troy said...

John calls me a ludite because of my views on outdoor domestic Christmas decorations. I actually don't mind a ton of stuff, but when the emphasis is on "ton" and "stuff" it kind of depresses me.

I actually only have a few "can't live with"s and those would be inflatable yard ornaments, LED lights (I know they are environmentally more friendly, but they are so piercing), and chaser lights, which make me a little nervous. I can do without icicle lights, too. I guess I am a ludite.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Don Bryant said...

I guess that when it comes to Christmas exterior and dare I say interior, give me tasteful every time, and if that makes me a luddite, then so be it, I'm not up to knitting by machine. (I had to Merriam Webster luddite.) I think of what a Jewish friend told me, "There are two things that I won't do, I won't but the Menorah on a table with a ham and I won't put it in the window for all to see. This miracle was for God's people during a difficult time and it reminds me of the light that should come from within."

At the rate of electrical usage used at New Jersey and 16th it would explain the quick flash of my electricity going off this morning. No...really, it did and I want to blame it on their gawd.

Thanks for commenting.

7:05 AM  
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