Day #5 – Cards and Decorations – Let the Competition Begin!
Christmas is the most competitive time of year. It seems like everyone competes to have the “best” family. It starts with the Christmas cards. Then moves onto house decorating and finally into gift giving. It all seems to be a competition.
Whenever I think about Christmas cards I think about the movie ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ where the family is supposed to get their pictures taken for their Christmas card in the summer. It is funny because it seems a little extreme but it is not too far off with some people. I know we get a lot of Christmas cards, way more than we should being the Grinch that I am. One of my wife’s friends always has them in the mail December 1st. I don’t ever know if this is because she wants to get it off her plate or she wants to be the first card everyone receives. Knowing her personality, I would guess the later. Each year people try and come up with a new way to be more creative or more heart warming or more cute or more make me want to gag with their cards. I get everything from just a store bought Christmas card only signed “Merry Christmas! From So-N-So” to the matching outfit Christmas picture card to the hand made cards with letters and photos inside. I should be more clear, most of these people only send the cards because of who I am married to, not because they want to send the cards to me. But it really can be too much. A couple of years ago we decided to tape everyone of our cards to the entrance to the hall way. We had cards from floor to ceiling and completely around the entry way. Ninety percent I could not even tell you who they were from. And in my opinion, ninety-nine percent could have saved their stamp (However, this is probably not the opinion of my wife.).
One of the newer things is to make and send Christmas video cards instead of real cards. There is an elaborate song and dance routine put on by the family so everyone you send it to can see how talented your family is compared to everyone else. If I was to send out a Christmas video card I would make a sign that said “Happy Holidays!” and then let the camera watch the sign for 5 or 10 minutes. How about instead of sending a card just give the people you are sending the cards to a phone call? I bet it would mean more than pictures of your pooch dressed up in a Christmas sweater.
Then you have the Christmas decorations. I can remember growing up and as I would walk around town the Christmas decorations were simple. A few lights on your house or tree. Maybe a wreath on your door and you could see the Christmas tree in the window. The lights were large bulbs that were easily broken. I can also remember the lights they made to look like candles. They would heat up and bubble and cause a few house fires each year. What do we have now? Just think of the movie ‘Christmas Vacation’. Chevy Chase has to out do his neighbor and makes his house bright enough to be seen from the moon. For some people this is not too far off. You have those houses who have millions of lights set up in elaborate arrangements set to music. The music is sent out over a FM frequency so people driving by can listen to the music which the lights are synced. It sounds nice unless you have to live next door to these displays. You have all the extra traffic and the constant flashing of lights. I wonder if they are required to have warning labels like video games that viewing the lights can result in seizures.
While these displays may be on the extreme end there are still more and more elaborate displays. Some people want to have the best display in the neighborhood or for some the city. This is spurred on by contests held by neighborhood associations having contests or even cities and radio stations doing the same thing. It just becomes more and more and more. I can remember one of my wife’s (girlfriend at the time) neighbors had some wire reindeer decorated with lights. I can’t remember if they got the idea from a movie or not but each night her brothers would go adjust the placement of the animals. They made them look as if they were mating. It was kind of funny, although I don’t think the neighbor thought as much. Why can’t there be a contest for the simplest and most elegant display. This year I have decided I am going old school. A few strings of lights outside on the house and on the tree. Then we will have a real Christmas tree (because I love the smell of a real tree) decorated with homemade ornaments and a few strings of lights. I have still been able to hold out from decorating so I am hoping it will only have to have them up for a few weeks. At least I won’t have to pay those huge electric bills that come with the elaborate decorations, because just like the scrooge, I want to keep every penny.