Ho! Ho! Oh! No!

Walking down Grove Avenue this morning, I passed an abundant variety of Christmas decoration concoctions. Some were tasteful; some were nice; some were…well…what can I say?

Having designed and decorated Holiday windows and interiors as a Visual Director at major department stores for more decades than I care to count, I’ll admit that my level of acceptability concerning other’s décor choices is jaded; but honestly, these are trying times. The absurd mash-up mixture of religious and commercial simply sets my purest heart into an ache to break my usual calm demeanor.

One particular, notable attraction sat proudly in the middle of a block and stopped me in my tracks. Spot lights positioned just so, twinkling LED strands framing the faux-realistic manger, highlighted the Baby Jesus, his naughty parts shielded from view. Mary and Joseph, surrounded by three wise men and an impressive Angel standing guard, were so mesmerized by the miracle child, stretching his plastic arms to the heavens, that they didn’t even notice the four foot blow-up Santa Claus looming above their heads like a hot air balloon in the Macy’s Parade; or else one of them would have produced a pin to prick and deflate his ominous, ogling stare! However, now retired from the retail rat-race, I’m trying hard not to judge the unenlightened. I say, to each his own and to all a festive holiday, no matter how they mix and match their genres. OK. Truth be told, I have a long way to go!

Yet, I must confess that my tree at home is a hodge-podge of given and found ornaments that have made their way into our lives. Each comes with a story or a connection that elicits praise or tears at the heartstrings. Each is haunted by a memory of a Christmas past. Unwrapping each is releasing a forgotten emotion tucked and boxed neatly away for a year.

Although I designed much holiday trim, never once did I learned how to light a Christmas tree correctly (Yes, there is a right way). To hang each of our well-worn ornaments or toss a string of familiar lights on our Tanenbaum tugs at my heart strings; reminding me of what was; what is; and what could have been. Bright faces, scintillating smiles, seasonal smells, titillating tastes, and effervescent joy, swathed in melancholy, overwhelms and captivates me as Christmas Eve melts and the day commences; because we all know that this spec of ‘new’ will never measure up to what we want most for it to be. Only the shadows of Christmas past glow with glory. Precious souls, no longer there, hold us captive by their absence. Precious ones, far away, stir our longing. 

So religious, commercial, or non-existent, Christmas decorations tease that suppressed child in all of us; affecting believers and none by their presence. Imprisoned by our judgmental age, dulled by years of confinement, the boy or girl in each of us…who once believed in miracles, sat on Santa’s lap, and lapped up too much eggnog…annually storm our dreams, march merrily inside our heads…and tempt the dead to play and sing carols praising the Jewish boy born in a sable. However, I’m certain there was NO GIANT SANTA, hovering over his head, scaring the be-Jesus out of Jesus!


Richmond, VA

Student, supporter, and believer in Life In Ten!

Jerry LongComment