Deck the Halls

Trimming the Tree

Weather more in tune with autumn notwithstanding, we're now on the far side of Thanksgiving. Time to break out the holiday decorations! Driving back from yoga on Saturday, we passed quite a few neighbors out hanging lights and wreaths. Inevitably, the blowups will follow, and -Boom!- it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The tradition of decking our halls (and lawns) is ancient, pre-dating Christmas by a few centuries. Pagan Celtic tribes would celebrate the winter solstice by decorating their homes with branches of fir, the bit of greenery serving as a reminder that spring and warmth would eventually return. The Germans contributed many of our more contemporary decorations; they invented both tinsel, which was originally real silver, and the fragile glass baubles used to trim the tree. And American Ralph Morris invented electric Christmas lights in 1895, to eliminate the fire hazard of using real candles. As for inflatable Christmas decorations, I'm not sure of their history but they certainly are popular.

My own decorating style tends more toward white lights and a couple of reindeer outside. Excess is reserved for the actual Christmas tree, where I throw caution to the wind and drape it in so many ornaments that it's hard to see if there IS a tree underneath. But driving home on a winter's night past glowing displays and crazy blow-ups is one of the simplest-and best-joys of the season.

The most memorable holiday display I ever witnessed was a few years ago, and seemed to involve a little mischief. Out for my morning run, I noticed a woman standing on her lawn, dressed in a bathrobe and slippers, holding a cup of coffee, and staring toward her house in disbelief.

Overnight, someone had attached a large blow-up champagne bottle to her Nutcracker's hand, and laid him down in a prone position. Santa had been re-positioned so he appeared to be doing something unmentionable to one of the reindeer. And a blowup doll more commonly associated with bachelor parties than lawn displays had been-ahem- 'attached' to Frosty. It was quite the display.

Although we've been loathe to take down all our lovely 5's, we will be 'decking' the store in the next few days. Maybe we can find some decorations that will blend with the blue and gold so we can leave them up! In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your own decorating and all the other traditions that herald the beginning of the winter holidays.