Holidays Aren’t the Holidays Without Peace, Love, and an Inflatable Santa
by Wayne Chan
Peer pressure…the single most powerful motivation to get you into the holiday spirit.
After a whirlwind weeklong trip to Europe, we were tired but glad to be home. It was a quick trip before the end of the year, and now we could spend the last couple of weeks relaxing, and gear up for the New Year.
As we came home from the airport and pulled up to our driveway, I immediately saw something that set me back a bit.
In the short week that we were gone, every one in the neighborhood had put up their Christmas lights and decorations. Well, nearly everyone.
The neighbors to the right of us had icicle lights hanging along their roofline, and big, shiny ornaments hanging from the trees in their front yard. The neighbors to the left of us had twinkling lights covering all the bushes and shrubs, with artificial reindeer lined up on their driveway, some with their heads bobbing up and down.
And in the middle, was our home…empty and dark, with only a single light glowing, that being the one lamp in the house that I had put on an automatic timer while we were gone. Compared to our neighbors, our home looked like we had closed out our electric service and had made the decision to live “off the grid”.
The next morning, as I was out walking our dog Ally, I again noticed the holiday decorations all along the street, but also noticed that our home was not the only home devoid of holiday cheer. Our neighbors across the street also didn’t have any decorations of any kind.
Let me just say that I’ve always loved celebrating the holidays. I love singing carols. I love watching reruns of all my favorite holiday movies. I love getting together with friends and family to laugh and celebrate. But after so many years of stringing the lights and setting up the Christmas tree, only to be followed with putting all the lights away and recycling the tree just a few short weeks later, I thought, maybe just this once we could skip that part of the holidays, especially if our neighbor across the street was thinking the same thing. We could still be jolly, even without all the bling.
The following afternoon, my wife and I attended a neighborhood holiday party. After catching up with everyone, I turned to the host of the party and decided to share my decoration-
“Oh...”, Mary said, with a look of grave concern on her face.
I went on. “I mean, I normally would have put up the decorations last week, but we were gone, and if I put ‘em up now, I’m just going to take them down in a couple of weeks. It’s such a hassle.”
The room was still quiet, but now people were glancing at each other in silence, as if I had just announced plans to build a toxic waste dump in my backyard.
Mary looked at me with an intense stare and said, “Wayne, you’ve got to put lights up! It’s the holiday spirit!”
Twenty pairs of eyes were on me. It was like they were looking at the man who cancelled Christmas.
Actually, there was one exception. My neighbor across the street, who also didn’t have any decorations on his house, was there. I could see him gently nodding his head in approval, slightly gritting his teeth and clenching his fist. I knew what he was thinking.
Come on Wayne. You and me, brother. Don’t give in. We don’t have to put up any stinkin’ lights. Stay strong. We’ll get through this together. Semper fi!
We got home after the party, and I hadn’t given in. We would be fine. We could still celebrate Christmas without the lights or a tree.
And then, my Mom called.
She said, “Wayne, we’ve all decided to celebrate Christmas at your house this year. We all love how you decorate the house.”
The next morning, I’m in the front yard with my ladder, an extension cord, and fourteen boxes of lights and decorations. Our home and our neighborhood, would all be merry once again.
Well, everyone except for my neighbor across the street, who glared at me as he pulled his ladder out from the garage.