52 Guitars: Week 50
The Moment


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I thought Eye of the Tiber was supposed to be satire. ;-)


Well, one minute after I read this, somebody told me, "Merry Christmas." I gave her the url of this article.


At least two people of my acquaintance who have stressed the need for observing Advent posted pictures of their Christmas trees a week or more ago.

This is really making me laugh. I don't know if it's really funny, or I'm just really tired.


I would post a picture of my tree, but I can't because it's in my attic in a box. It's not because I don't want to put my tree up in Advent (although I usually don't) but it's sheer indolence.


We did ours last weekend (before the one just past, I mean) because two of the grandchildren were spending the night.

See, that's just it. No grandchildren coming to my house this year, so no incentive. I've already taken all my gifts over to Rachel's so there will be room for the food in the car on Thursday, so except for the Advent wreath, empty creche and a few garlands, we don't look very Christmas-like.


See, this is why I don't send Christmas cards during Advent.

And you usually get them out in the Christmas season--before the Feast of the Presentation. ;-)

Unlike the Cupos who don't send cards.


Its funny. I live in a very middle class area near the University. There is nearly visible disapproval of my carelessness about leaves on my lawn (mea culpa, I never had a lawn before and didn't realize I had to get going on it so early, before it got too cold and the leaves got all wet). The houses are all large enough for ten people to live in them - they all look like motels in monopoly. I was lucky to be forced to buy a house here by a friend, and not follow my preferences and buy an interesting looking house in an interesting neighbourhood - which would have fallen down or been burgled or what have you.

But for the past two weeks, all the houses around me began to be covered in lights and santas and reindeer and other lit ornaments. It is what my father would call 'Coney Island' and what English people call 'Bling'. In England, I believe to this day, the middle classes and upper middle classes don't do bling. Bling is strictly for the wealthy end of the lower middle class.

In Shame, I put my little electric tree up on a book case where it is visible from the road. And I put my candles in the window. I put my Christmas cards where they are visible from the window. I thought about a wreath but I have no idea how one makes it stick to the door. There's a ton of wreaths out there on my street.

That was at least ten days ago.

I don't have Advent must end before Christmas can start kind of issues - I laughed outloud at the piece - I know those types. I have many faults but not that one.

And one neighbor has their lawn filled with three foot red and white striped candy cane umbrella-lights. Only a working class person would do that in GB.

If it is any consolation, Grumpy, we still have some leaves on our lawn. It is raining today, so they are getting very wet. I hope it doesn't snow before I can get the last of them. I intended to do it today, but it was raining and we (Christina, our nine-year old and myself) spent the afternoon getting the tree. So now we have to drag a soaking wet tree into the house.

I am reminded of a Mad magazine cartoon from the 1960s even, which shows a whole street full of houses covered in 'Coney Island' style decorations, with Santas, Reindeer and so on, and one house with no decorations where through the window you can see a family gathered round a nativity scene. Some bypassers are saying to one another, 'I guess they are not religious'.

BTW many of my neighbours are UND folk and very pious Catholics. I am not hoping for piety points on account of the sparcity of my Christmas decorations. I do have a larger electric tree which I brought with me from England but I'm afraid of fusing all the lights if I turn it on, with its English style plugs and things.

Actually I more or less agree with the Offended Man in principle, but, you know, you just can't turn off the culture you live in, and there's no point in hurling yourself against the oncoming train. My wife frequently does an Advent wreath on the door with purple ribbons, which probably makes the neighbors wonder. But we're a bit isolated. And since the children all grew up and left home we don't make the effort we used to. The fact that she also has an outside job now also tends to work against Advent observance.

I didn't realize the connotations of "bling" in Britain. It appeared here maybe a decade or so ago, out of nowhere as far as I could tell. It seems to refer mainly to jewelry. I first saw it associated with rappers who are loaded up with gold ornaments, including gold teeth. It definitely carries a suggestion of crude ostentation.

We would call putting coloured lights all over your house and your hedges and your garden 'bling' too.

In both cases it seems to carry a definite declasse connotation. Tacky, to use the American word--do they say that in the UK? The kind of overdone Christmas decorations you're talking about are definitely considered tacky by the upper middle class, whose decorations are much more restrained and tasteful. Which makes me sort of perversely cheer on the over-the-top brigade.

I *like* the Coney Island effect in my neighbourhood. I just cannot imagine buying that stuff and putting it up in my garden.

We have seven kids and our seventh (who is nine now) is the only one I can remember who has complained about not decorating for Christmas when everyone else does. He has a best friend next door who does up all the holidays, including esp. Halloween and Christmas.

It is hard (and sad) to believe that it has been nine years since we've had a baby.



I do not disapprove, it is just odd to me that people should have middle class attitudes about their lawns and working class practices about Christmas decorations.

Well, maybe here it's not working class.

I really like Christmas lights, but it has been a very rare year when we have actually put out any at all--partly because we didn't decorate until Christmas Eve, and it's one thing to have the inside of your house decorated long after everyone else has thrown their tree in the trash and another thing to have the outside decorated when everyone thinks Christmas is over.


The municipal services here do tree collections on 6 January (or first Monday after if it's a weekend).

Ours do it on the 4th at the latest.


I wondered whether one could put up lights between Christmas and Epiphany and it's clear the answer is no. Christmas has been moved from Christmas-Epiphany to Advent-Christmas. It starts around 10 December and ends on about 3 January.

It is sad when the children grow up, Robert, but once you get used to the idea, there is much to be said for the empty nest. :-)

I enjoy the riotous Christmas lighting, but the big inflatable figures just seem a little crazed. There is a neighborhood in Mobile that does things up so flamboyantly that they can actually charge admissions for people to drive through.

And I guess everyone has seen this synchronized music lighting extravaganza--it's almost 10 years old now.

I simply cannot recall whether I extended warm wishes yet. Oh well, better late than never:


Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you!

I remember seeing that in the 'early days' of google-internet. Takes you back - we used to email links to each other

It will be years before we have an empty nest!

When I was a child, it seemed like everybody had outside lights and decorations, at least in the city, and it stayed that way until the energy crisis. My brother-in-law died in mid-December, 1973, we went to NJ for his funeral. Driving from the airport in Newark to Jersey City, everything seemed so dark, There was only an occasional lit wreath in the window. All of NYC seemed very dark.

Eventually, people started using outside lights again, especially with the advent of LCD lights, and I see a lot now, but nothing like it was in my childhood.

My sister's friend lived in a neighborhood where the families in every house on their little street had bought the same illuminated plastic yard decoration, three singing elves and a lamp post. Twenty years later, some people had moved and one or two of the elves might have disappeared, but there were still lamps and elves everywhere. I'm sure they were in themselves very tacky, but I really liked them nevertheless.

And we pass a house on our way to work that had three of those large inflated things. When we came home at night, they were all lit and cheery, but every morning I would laugh because they were lying deflated in the yard like they had had too much fun the night before. I don't like those things either, but when I see a yard jammed full of them, it makes me laugh, and I like it for some reason.

My favorite inflatable decorations were a Mr. & Mrs. Santa with hands raised, waving to the passersby. I saw them one very windy night. Santa was completely blown over, and Mrs. Claus was blowing around in such a way that it made it look like she was beating him with her upraised arm.


You're wrong, Robert. You will wake up tomorrow and they will be grown.


They'll pass sooner than you think.

I still don't have any idea how that music-light synchronization works. Have to look it up sometime.

Passed a giant (10 feet maybe?) inflatable Santa in front of a wine store on the way to work a bit ago. Earlier I said "a little crazed". Also a little sad--it's a grey day, and the Santa sits in a sort of half-grass half-mud area fronting a gravel parking space. Maybe if it were in a snowbank it would seem more cheery.

"At least two people of my acquaintance who have stressed the need for observing Advent posted pictures of their Christmas trees a week or more ago."

Hehehe. I have to really fight tooth and claw to avoid putting up decorations in Advent. My natural indolence helps, my 6 children witnessing the bling in the street for the last 3 weeks+ are a hinderance!

I made an Advent wreath by the third week of Advent, although I ran out of garland so it's only half done!!! Lord, I'm hopeless!

"Actually I more or less agree with the Offended Man in principle, but, you know, you just can't turn off the culture you live in, and there's no point in hurling yourself against the oncoming train."

Me too. I don't at all like the eclipsing of Advent with blow-up snowmen etc. but the plain fact is that I'm hard-wired to receive the words "Merry Christmas!"in the spirit of goodwill in which they're given, but I do feel a little sad about it.

"I *like* the Coney Island effect in my neighbourhood. I just cannot imagine buying that stuff and putting it up in my garden."

This is mostly how I feel, although, by golly, sometimes I am tempted to give in. I think I can imagine putting up plain white lights on the house. But then I just think of the expense.

"It is hard (and sad) to believe that it has been nine years since we've had a baby."

I understand. Our youngest is 4 and that's strange enough.

I know 2 things: it will be many years before we have an empty nest; and they will go extremely quickly. :/

"And we pass a house on our way to work that had three of those large inflated things. When we came home at night, they were all lit and cheery, but every morning I would laugh because they were lying deflated in the yard like they had had too much fun the night before."


A fellow in Germany starts the process of setting up his more than 400,000 Christmas lights at the end of July.

When the display is in its full glory, he says people coming to see it expect there will also be mulled wine and bratwurst. ;)

Goodness gracious. I was going to say "God bless America" in response to all the excess we've discussed--because there is something kind of wonderful about it--but I believe this German has us beat.

I cross-posted with Janet earlier today and didn't see her comment till much later. About the deflated inflatables, I thought I had posted a picture here last year of a very amusing one, but I can't find it. Maybe it was on Facebook. Anyway, the greatest of those is Sally Thomas's face-down snowman. I really wanted a t-shirt with that on it, but she was unable to find a good enough copy of it.

Louise, I can see myself going that way but I do not have the technical competence to put up lights

Me neither, Grumpy. Which is the other reason it hasn't happened!

(But you know, this is America, so if you want to waste some hard earned cash, you can pay a company to do it for you.)

You know, when almost the whole street is decked out in lights, one feels terribly scrooge-like not participating.

I saw a truly spectacular one this evening. Wish I could show you a picture. The house is on a big corner lot and there are lights everywhere, but somehow it seems tasteful.

Some of them are, I think.

Merry Christmas, y'all!


The foot soldiers engaged...

Yeah, I saw that. Not much information--who knows what rope he was at the end of when he lost it. Maybe he's just a jerk, or maybe the airlines had something to do with it.

This is how I've seen it through the years:
There have been myriad incidents like the one on the plane. Brazen individuals who threaten lawsuits against school districts, municipalities, etc.
Large department stores have cowered to people who've emerged to challenge their traditional Christmas expressions, celebrations.
The ACLU has eagerly jumped in to defend many of them, salivating over the thought of crushing religious freedom.
I simply gave this one example. I could go on for over an hour speaking to "political correctness" and how it has entered the fray in this issue.
Or to radical activism and how it has assisted the gay movement (marriage, AIDS, gender wars, etc.), how it has created faux racism throughout the Obama administration, and the anti-gun agenda. And it has touched the assault on Christmas as well. I'll spare you.
Suffice it to say, there are countless stories like the one on the plane. Individuals who fail to understand that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. And that recognizing Christian holidays is not an affront to them. It reflects the majority of this country. And the lion share of the founding fathers.

Right, I know about that stuff. But with no more information than the news reports on this have given us, it's not clear that this guy is really part of that. Now, if he comes back with a lawyer saying he wants damages for mental anguish, it's another story. But while he's obviously no friend to Christianity, he could just be somebody having a really bad day, and is now embarrassed at having made a fool of himself.

Admittedly I do skew on the side of receiving this story as mentioned; regarding them as individuals who've adopted a brazen rebuke to Christmas. And a blossoming (narcissistic) "need" to express it.
Sure, he could have had a bad day.
I simply find it remarkable that he'd take it to such a degree under such circumstance. As mentioned, there are countless examples, in recent years, across this country, of individuals "feeling" compelled to express themselves similarly. Where they are/were NOT motivated by bad days. Something more sinister.

Emboldening a minority voice:


Fifty years of gathering anger and defiant confidence in lashing out against Christianity and its affiliate holidays, expressions, beliefs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8_Genesis_reading

and this article lists several individual examples of related incidents:

I refer to all of it as the, "Religious Road Rage". A relatively new phenomenon.
So be it.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

We put up our tree early in Advent this year -- a fake tree that we discovered in our basement, apparently left behind by the previous owners of our house -- but had decided not to decorate it until Christmas Eve. Then one evening my wife and I went out, leaving the kids at home with their grandparents. When we came home: the tree was decorated! Oh well.

Grumpy, I can't figure out how people hang those wreaths on their front doors either. We've got a nice one, but --

Will that empty nest come sooner than we think? Twenty years seems like a long time ... especially if I'm going to be awake the whole time.

Did I say Merry Christmas already?

Twenty years seems like a long time ... especially if I'm going to be awake the whole time.

That is hysterical. It's probably funnier from my side of the nest.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Christmas Wars?


Newsweek’s just-released 16-page diatribe portrays Evangelical Christians as homophobic, right-wing fundamentalist hypocrites who believe an unbelievable Bible. And just in case the reader misses the writer’s subtle nuance, the essay was illustrated with images of snake handlers, Pat Robertson and the Westboro Baptist Church.

That’s because in the minds of Newsweek’s esteemed editors, most evangelical Christians spend their weekends dancing with snakes and picketing gay nightclubs.
HO, HO, HO...Merry Christmas, America.

I'm sure that once this diatribe is read, there are those who could spend hours untangling the misconceptions, misrepresentations, misinterpretations of what lies within.
I choose only one sentence:

"In fact, Christians are believed to have massacred more followers of Jesus than any other group or nation."

Flatly stated, just what the hell does this mean? Who "believes" this? Not I. Nor anyone mentioned in the article.
Does the author even effort to back this up with any scintilla of facts, data (which he no doubt cannot by any yardstick or metric)?
I've heard versions of this claim throughout my life.
Fact is, much to the chagrin of Christian-haters, in the 20th century alone, more people were killed by secularists, non-religious tyrants than all people killed in all of human history. Now that can be proven. It is historically documented, the otherwise inconceivable number of those killed at the hands of, Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, and Mao; non-religious rulers, all of them. Not to mention the nearly million Chinese slaughtered before, during, and after the, "Rape of Nanking", in 1937-38 (of which Japan still maintains never even occurred). Not to mention the untold numbers killed in North Korea by their own leaders.
The population of the world in the twentieth century was exponentially higher than the population of the world during the time the author of this diatribe claims all of these mass killings by Christians. So many more to be killed. And vastly more sophisticated methods to do so.
I still do not know what he's even suggesting in the aforementioned sentence of his.
(rant over)

Now I see everyone is anticipating the New Year, too. ;-)


Sorry I've not been replying to these. I have what seems to be the flu and am barely functional.

Craig, the twenty years will only seem brief in retrospect. They're plenty long when you're living them.

I am no fan of Fox News et al but their liberal competitors deserve everything they're getting in the marketplace. They have nobody to blame but themselves, this Newsweek piece being a case in point.

P.s. hpy nu yr....

Christmas Not-Wars


Hope you're feeling better, Mac. Heck of a way to start a new year. Take it easy.

Thanks. This makes me realize I've been taking good health for granted. I can't even remember the last time I took a sick day at work.

That's good advice, Janet. I admit I do take a certain pleasure in withdrawing my patronage from media outlets that engage in these seasonal attacks on Christianity. I decided I'd had it with CNN a few years ago over one of those. Now, even though I think CNN is better journalism overall, if I want quick headlines I look at Fox--what I was talking about yesterday.

Well, that sort of thing wasn't what I was talking about. ;-)

Hope you're better today.


I know, just another observation.

I just didn't want you to think I was criticizing you while you were languishing On your bed of pain.


I appreciate it. :-) I didn't think that, though.

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