After what seemed like a disproportionate amount of struggle, the CrazyStable is now festooned with one porchful of white "drip" lights, one big light-up wreath (synthetic) and one door wreath (organic). Tree is, as We Journalists used to abbreviate, "TK" (to come). It all seems a bit more daunting every year, and these fellow Brooklynites don't help matters.
Image: Joe Jordan, Brooklyn Paper
Yes, it's the annual spectacle of Dyker Heights, where tour buses and reporters converge every year to count the decibels and the megawatts generated on the lawns and McMansions of a corps of seasonally manic homeowners. We've "done the lights" when Child was small, and it was a ritual that reminded me of how a friend described Vegas: "Because you'll never believe it otherwise, you really ought to do it. Once." And, indeed, I feel no need to go back for more, although the holiday cheer was wacky and authentic in its bizarre way. These homegrown spectacle producers are a generous lot; they hire guys in Elmo suits, collect money for children's hospitals, give away popcorn and presents, all for "the kids." (Pity the poor sleep-deprived neighbor who tries to complain about living next to Santa's airstrip!)
But every year, when Spouse and Child settle in raptly to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas," I wonder: In the scene where Snoopy pimps out his doghouse, and Charlie Brown is horrified that even his trusty dog has succumbed to the commercialization of Christmas, do the Dyker Heights folks, er, "get it"? Or do they sit on their plastic-covered couches under their very large chandeliers and comment, "Hey, the doghouse looks better than that piece-of-crap tree, hahaha!" Just wondering how it plays in our more extravagantly decorated precincts.
Last night, Charlie-Brown-like, I flopped in a bout of depression, realizing that we would once again be hanging decorations on a House Very Much Unfinished--no transformation to tasteful pine-swagged and candle-lit Martha Stewart-land (and yes, one could debate whether that's a moral ground higher than Dyker Heights). Child and Spouse gathered around like the Peanuts gang and comforted me, Child assuring me that she liked our house much better than those fancy ones, and Spouse surprised me by having put up the magical blue lights in the kitchen. Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!
Charlie Brown: I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn't have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don't know what Christmas is all about. [Shouting] Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?
Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. [moves toward the center of the stage] Lights, please. (A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965)Image: Animation cell ($495), Wonderful World of Animation Art Gallery