Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Greeting Cards

Does anyone send holiday greeting cards anymore?  Also known as Christmas cards?  Do you?

I remember when Lisa lived with us and between her set of friends and acquaintances and mine we had dozens and dozens of cards.  Not a day would go by in December without a card or several in the mailbox.  I have a box of small, gold colored paper clips that I used to string together and pin up along the wainscoting.  We would hang the cards along this shiny garland.  In the heyday of cards we would have the whole living room swagged with holiday greetings.

This year, I have received five so far.  Five.  Sadly, one of them is from the store where I bought my bike!  It's pretty, though, so I'm keeping it up.  There are too few to string up the paperclip chains so they are sharing the mantel with some other decorations.  There's plenty of room for the five of them!  In the old days, only the photo cards were on the mantel.

In case you were going to ask, yes, I did send out cards.  Not as early as Miss Georgiana, whose card arrived the day after Thanksgiving, but early-ish in the month.

Is this just a thing of the past?  Are the days of sending cards made of paper through the postal service over?  If so, that's kinda sad.  It's a holdover from the time before email.  It's hard to display an e-card on the mantel.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sparkle Plenty

No, I’m not talking about our cat, or the Dick Tracy character, or the chandelier cleaner.  I’m talking about holiday sparkle lights!  Also known as twinkle lights, or fairy lights if you hail from the UK.  Or, I suppose, Christmas lights.

I don’t refer to them as Christmas lights because I keep mine up year round.  I use them in lieu of a porch light.  They are cheerful and colorful and keep the dark at bay in a very pleasant way. 

What is the purpose of lights?  A rhetorical question, yes, but with a point.  The purpose of lights is to dispel the dark.  Why do we put up colorful, sparkly lights in the depths of winter?  To remind ourselves that the light will return and the dark will diminish.  That is the source of many ancient winter traditions that persist to the present day under the guise of religion.

I used to take the lights down at the end of the holiday season, but then I kept stretching the season further and further until it snapped.  I always left them up until the spring equinox.  It just felt sacrilegious and a little like tempting fate to take them down too soon.  And, after a while I thought, well, why am I taking them down at all?  They are pretty and they make me happy, so I’m leaving them up!

Several years ago Lisa’s friend Cindy was visiting.  I think it must have been in February or early March.  We picked her up from the airport in the evening and as we rounded the corner onto our street, she piped up, laughing, and said, “There’s someone who can’t let go of the season!”  We grinned as pulled into the driveway.  She was embarrassed but I reassured her that almost everyone found my attitude about lights irritating.

As December unfurls more lights are coming on all over the neighborhood.  My across the street neighbor put his up on Thanksgiving weekend – yay Mr Denson!  House by house the street grows brighter and more cheerful as the days grow shorter and darker. 

I’ve only got my usual porch lights on so far, but this weekend I’ll get out there and string more up on the house and in the shrubbery.  Bring on the extension cords!

How about you?  Do you have any sparkle lights up?