Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Leaving up the Lights: Old World or White Trash?

By this time of the new year, most everybody who had Christmas lights up has finally taken them down. Maybe. For the first week of the year, leaving them up feels like an easy way to extend the festive feelings of the holiday season.  The ham, peppermint sticks, presents, and egg nog may be gone, but the feelings remain.  By the second week, leaving them up feels like an awesome way of putting off the inevitable--dragging out the boxes and sending the decorations back to wherever they reside for the majority of the year.

As a child, I don't recall a January without Christmas lights and/or decorations.  My mom would say that we were leaving them up for "Russian Christmas."  We did have that ancestry, and although we didn't celebrate as we did on December 25th, I did get an idea of what the Orthodox Christmas meant.  There's a segment in Rick Sebak's documentary "Happy Holidays in Pittsburgh" (a great special for anyone in or out of The Burgh) where a woman with a large menagerie of Christmas lights utters the same "Russian Christmas" statement.  Apparently we weren't the only ones who went that route!

It wasn't until I grew older that I learned of the unfortunate "white trash" stigma of leaving lights up.  Sure, we can all picture the slightly run-down house with Billy Bob outside in his torn jeans and dirty shirt, waiting to come indoors when the electric icicles light up.  Nevertheless, I think that in recent years, movies and other media with a negative connotation have blown this into a way bigger concept than it actually is.  After all, so-called "ugly" Christmas sweaters weren't labeled as such while I was growing up, either, but that's a rant best saved for next Christmas.  Stereotypes may be based in truth, but I think that this is one that is really undeserved.

Now that we"re almost a full month into the new year, even a Christmas fanatic such as myself can safely admit that it's time for the lighted reindeer and inflatable Frosty to come down.  If they were up all year, what fun would it be to unveil them again next Thanksgiving weekend?  As for the trees and indoor knickknacks? You have a little while yet.  They can't judge what they can't see!

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