Deck the halls

Harvey Fierstein as Mrs Claus in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade Mrs Claus, aka Harvey Fierstein, in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

And hedges

It is December — already — and Chez Paul is starting to look festive.

My antipathy toward the looming holiday season is well known. Some may see visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, but I see the holidays as an orgy of spending to feed the great American retail machine. Too many people feel obliged to spend. The commercial imperative is reflected in the commonly heard question, "How many do you have to buy for?" Whatever meaning the (winter, 'Christian') holidays may have had originally has been largely lost.

A poor woman was trampled at a Walmart by a crowd of holiday shoppers bent on scoring a bargain DVD player (NYTimes, 30Nov-03). Bill Deore's cartoon deftly captures what has become the true spirit of the season. see cartoon

My teeth clench involuntarily every time a sales clerk wishes me a happy holiday or a merry christmas. All this contrived cheer just makes me want to snarl "Bah, humbug!"

I'm all in favor of celebrating the winter solstice, that wonderful moment when the dark starts to retreat. Now that's something worth celebrating! And the custom of bright lights to help drive away the dark appeals to me.

Lighted hedges

Last year, in my one concession to holiday decoration, I bought nets of little lights to drape over the hedges in front of the patio. At the time I thought I was buying white lights, and it was only when I turned them on that I discovered that one box was blue. Oh well.

Lighted palm tree

This year I augmented my display with a Christmas palm tree. How could I resist an expression of such pure, unadulterated kitsch? I expected to put it on the patio, but I'm not sure it could withstand a good wind. For the time being, at least, it is indoors.

Y'all have a happy holiday now, y'hear!