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I think I understand why all the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names…

Dear Anita,

‘Tis the season! Time for crisp, bright mornings, the sweet scent of woodsmoke, and (these days at least) the persistent, asthmatic drone of inflatable lawn ornaments.

When I was younger I desperately waited for the days after Thanksgiving. My dad would wake on a sunny Saturday and pull the rotting cardboard box labeled “Christmas Decorations” in his strong script from the back of the garage. My first job was to disentangle the collected mass of string lights, pulling the small, white bulbs for the tree from the big, colorful orbs we used to line the roof of the house (an obsessive child’s dream!). I have strong memories of singing to Bing Crosby in plaid pajamas, unwrapping glittery ornaments from newspaper, and watching my dad teeter and curse on the tall, aluminum ladder as he strung up lights outside.

I liked walking the neighborhood after the early sunset to bask in the flickering glow of our collective merriment. It was nice, you know. The quiet. The low hum of traffic, the shuffle of sneakers on pavement, the muffled sounds of conversation and music behind closed doors.

It’s not quite the same these days. Apartment lease regulations don’t allow lights to be strung outside. Our space is too small for a tree. But! I still like to go out. I start with hot chocolate (Starbucks, tall, because…you know…basic with a capital “B”). I tune my iPod to Bing. And I wander, out of my apartment complex, up into the hills where the wealthy nestle in their large houses.

There is still the scent of woodsmoke. There is still a glow of merriment. But now there is also a collective wheeze. The streets hrrrrrrnnnggghhhh with the effort of inflating giant, fat white men, cross-eyed reindeer, and obese penguins.

I wonder at what point as a society we decided the optimal means of celebrating the birth of the Christian savior was to plant engorged cartoon characters on our lawns. It’s even better in the morning: the brown, dying grass littered with puddles of deflated red and white nylon.

Heavenly hosts sing hallelujah!

I still love it, though. Every little piece of it. I even kind of wonder (if I could afford one of those homes) if I would join in. Would I head to Costco on Black Friday? Would I fight the throngs for a good deal? Perhaps one of those sleeping Snoopy’s on top of his little red doghouse. Maybe a ridiculous life-sized snow globe that circulates baseball sized foam balls. More likely a traditional snowman in a black top hat. Or a grinch with his heart grown three sizes in a day.

No, fuck that noise.

I would do big, colorful orbs along the roofline. Living room blinds open to view the glittering tree. Muffled conversation and music behind our closed, bolted front door.

Happy holidays, my friend!

Cassie

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