This time every year I sometimes find myself getting annoyed. I become judgmental about how other folks choose to observe the Christmas season and I’m prone to start pontificating about debt and waste. I often feel I’m letting it steal my joy.
I am trying to get better. But I still fret and stew a bit when I see folks spending piles of money on things they can’t afford and don’t need. I still get a rise when I think of how all that overconsumption could be redirected to a hurting world. And I still worry that our society is sinking ever deeper into a pit of debt from which there may be no escape.
It’s often the decorations that start my frustration churning.
When I was a kid we just didn’t have a lot of money to spend on Christmas decorations. I don’t remember anyone who did. But it really wasn’t something that seemed to require a lot of money. Sometime early in December we’d go out to the woods and cut down a good young well-shaped cedar tree–usually one we kids had scouted out long beforehand. Once I was old enough to be allowed to do it, I’d shoot down some mistletoe with a shotgun. We’d get up some running cedar and wrap it around wire clothes hangers that we’d twisted into a sorta circle.
We hung bulbs, lights and tinsel (which we called “icicles”) on the tree. We saved everything (even the tinsel) and used it every year.
These days in the country inflatable balloon-like yard decorations are popular. There are giant balloon snowmen, Santas and manger scenes. We saw one that was Santa in a helicopter. These balloons are kept inflated by some kind of fan that runs all night and they’re often lit by separate lights.
When travelling a few years ago I saw a manger scene with Frosty the Snowman alongside the Magi.
There are still some country folks who prefer simple decorations: a candle in the window, a wreath on the door. But extravagant light shows and large yard decorations are common.
I’m trying to let myself get OK with all that. For every person who’s trying to keep up with the Joneses, there are probably two who just get some joy out of festive decorations and genuinely like big and colorful things. I reckon there’s room at the table for us all.
So for those who put up a simple tree and light a candle in the window I say, well done.
For those who prefer the inflatable Santa in a helicopter I say, whatever floats your boat.
Merry Christmas to all.