This year’s Christmas decorations

christmas tree


As talked about here.

Stunt 2007

Christmas Decorations

*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was a fan of extravagant Christmas decorations. I came from the *if you can see green, it needs more decorations* school of tree-dressing. I was just continuing the traditions that had been established in my childhood.

But time has taken its toll. Encroaching curmudgeondom, environmental awareness, and Karen’s influence have all combined and changed my view. I still like to drape long strands of tinsel along the top edge of picture frames, but I’m no longer the lightoholic that I once was. The majestic exterior displays that some of our neighbours have implemented seem excessive and vain. I’d be happy to have one or two strings of low-power lights around the house, but Karen would rather that we don’t, and I’m cool with that.

We haven’t put up my 6′ artificial tree this year. We were concerned that Bernard would be unable to resist the urge to pull it down on top of himself. In retrospect, perhaps we were unnecessarily paranoid, but so it goes. While digging through bags of decorations (for tinsel, see above) I did discover the old foot-high plastic tree that I used to have in my bedroom back when I was a teenager, so we’ve put that in the middle of the dining table. That’s our tree this year.

The thing that baffles me is that “tradition” can make people do such irrational things. We install cavity wall insulation and loft insulation to reduce our heating bills. We replace our incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent alternatives. We turn the TV off instead of leaving it on standby. We worry about carbon footprints, and petrol prices, and all that jazz.

Then December arrives. Suddenly, it’s time to cut down a tree, decorate your house in unnecessary lights, throw the switch, and it’s all okay because (a) it looks pretty and (b) it’s tradition. I look at the aforementioned lightshow adorning the exterior of my neighbours house and imagine them saying *Kids, we can have extra lights this year, because Pete next door has been so careful with his energy consumption over the last eleven months! w00t!*

You know what I want to do? I want to walk up my street at 2am in the morning, ringing the doorbells of all the people whose Christmas lights are glowing brightly. And I’ll say “Excuse me, but would you mind switching your lights off? Oh, whoopsie, were you sleeping? Sorry, I assumed that you were awake, because YOUR LIGHTS ARE ON.” Maybe I should just head out with a pair of secateurs and switch those lights off in the old-fashioned way.

At the end of the day, I appreciate that the tradition of Christmas is very important to some people, and they will defend their right to be as wasteful as they like. And I have to respect that, because I know that I am not perfect either, and there are still probably thousands of ways that I could further reduce my negative impact on the environment. After all, what’s the difference between the people at #40 draping their house with enough lights to land a jumbo jet, and me leaving my computer on overnight to download the latest Ubuntu release?

*UPDATE: some photos*

*Next week’s stunt post will be entitled “What I want for Christmas” – look out for it on Monday.*

Displeasure Parenting Stunt 2007


*This is a companion piece to a similarly-themed article on Karen’s site which, all things being equal, should be published at roughly the same time.*

Santa Claus is a big pile of bollocks. He’s what you get when you take two historical figures who are famous for gift bringing, blend them together, allow it to ferment for about 100 years until a dominant form emerges that bears little resemblance to either of the originals, hijack it for advertising purposes, and then continue using it for advertising purposes for another 80 years.

“You cynical bastard, ” some whiney git whines, “are you going to deny your son the tradition of Christmas?”

That depends, I reply. Are you talking about the tradition of giving? Or the tradition of demanding? The tradition of generosity? Or the tradition of shopping?

Once upon a time, Santa had good intentions. But now, he’s a corporate shill.

“But, ” the whiney whinotrope continues to whine, “children are innocent and beautiful. They don’t understand such foulness. They are incapable of conceiving such things. To them, Santa is a good man, for he brings them gifts.”

Exactly, I reply. Isn’t it our duty to protect children from the things that will cause them harm? If they don’t understand the dangers of wanton consumption and the worship of consumerism, surely we should be keeping them as far from it as possible, rather than burying our heads in the sand and saying “Oh, I’m sure it won’t do any long-term damage. We can always un-train them later.”

I’d love to be able to embrace Santa Claus. Like Jesus Christ, I agree with everything that he stands for. But his legacy has been poisoned by the people who have co-opted him for their own profit. I think that everyone knows this, but most people are too afraid to act on it. There’s pressure coming from all directions to perpetrate this destructive tradition.

And then there’s the whole magic/lies argument, which needs no introduction. In a nutshell (hmmm, apparently it *does* need an introduction) you’ve got “I shall tell my child the truth” versus “I shall let my child believe in magic, for innocence passes so fleetingly, and magic is fun.” Both sides of the coin have their pros and cons. I’m going to play that one by ear, I think. Half of my brain wants to encourage honesty, truth and trust with my son, but the other half wants to give him a memorable childhood that is full of wonder and awe and mystery. Pffft, exaggerated shrugging action.

*Next week’s stunt post will be on the subject of Christmas decorations – look out for it on Monday.*