Yesterday evening I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights on houses, Santas in front yards, and wreaths on front doors. Except there weren’t any. I asked myself if I had the right month. I checked my phone. Yep, I did. What happened to my neighbors? Then it hit me. Most of the neighbors that traditionally went wild with their lights and front lawn decorations have fled the area for warmer pastures. I miss them. They had a spirit of Christmas I didn’t so I lived on their enthusiasm. They brightened up the neighborhood and made us smile. We were proud people who basked in their twinkling lights. We could count on them every year. Now they were gone and took the spirit of Christmas with them. Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are now flying high over sand dunes. And no, I’m not going to take over the tradition. You’re lucky if I have a bow on my front door. Inside the house is another matter. I enjoy displaying several trees in the living room, lights over the mantelpiece, and Christmas cards on a table.
So I gave up on Christmas decorations, and settled for the natural growth around the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.
Calvin says, “Yeah, I miss those midnight walks. I tingled with excitement.”
This is what I saw on my way to the office this morning. A beautifully decorated tree on the street, curbside. No lights. Was it waiting for a taxi, I mean Uber? Maybe since it was standing there in front of the building where Uber has its offices. If it was a gimmick, it worked on me. I asked a security guard and he said, “It was leaking so they brought it out.” Wait till the dog walkers and their pups notice this. A Christmas tree just for them!
The things one sees during the holidays.
I had coffee last weekend with a friend. I ran into a woman and her beagle at the entrance of the shop and bolted inside before she captured me. She will talk to anyone for ages about her dog and how much it’s costing her to keep him alive. Something in the vicinity of $20,000. He pooch has two bionic knees otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. He’s now on expensive drugs for skin allergies. And the list goes on. Every time I’m at the coffee shop she’s there, so I suspect she goes every weekend in search of an audience. The man in the picture? That’s her husband. Notice the delighted expression on his face.
I thought this planter decoration was great. Different. Colorful. Something to use all winter long. It was lobby decor in a building that used to be home to the local post office. Now we have to hunt for where it moved to. No forwarding address.
Calvin says, “I’m signing a DNR. Do not reconstruct. Me.”
At this time of year I like to search for unique Christmas tree decorations. Not to buy, but to enjoy looking at. Typically office lobbies don’t have them. Neither do department stores. However there are places that make an effort to showcase the novel and the unique.
My favorite store that tops my list is Carrigg’s of Carmel. At this time of year they have more than a dozen decorated trees in the store that delight and transport you to Christmas heaven. Forget the shopping, the eating, and the staying in Carmel. I go just for the design therapy at Carrigg’s.
I stroll from room to room. When something catches my eye, I take a quick picture with my camera that I keep hidden in my jacket. After the second room of sensory enchantments, I stop being stealthy and keep the camera in full view. There’s so much to photograph and I don’t care who sees me. I’m like a child in a magic castle.
Whoever decorates the store is a genius. There’s so much to absorb it takes several hours, but I limit myself to drooling for 60 minutes. Besides, Alf is waiting for me on the street reading headline news on his phone. Calvin is pulling at his leash attempting to meet and greet all the other pedigree dogs walking their owners.
Calvin says, “Carmel needs a pop-up store for dogs with Christmas delicacies like rabbit jerky.”
It’s the season for Christmas trees. The current culture insists on doing away with anything religious, but I’ve noticed the trees remain. It think it’s because when you see one you immediately think presents. And then you remember your list and have an anxiety attack, which sends you hustling to the mall. Christmas trees are the brain’s signal to get you shopping. If you saw one in February, you wouldn’t react at all.
I see several this time of year. They sit proudly in office lobbies winking their lights and strutting their bows for all who walk by and take a second look inside.
The one with the red bow is in the building that houses Uber and Square. Very traditional in its color scheme for two companies that have broken all the rules of transportation and commercial transactions.
The one with the flowers is one I decorated for our office. Who says you have to stay within boundaries? And the one with all the gold and silver dripping from its branches is found in the Twitter lobby.
Calvin says, “Oh the fuss of it all. Just toss me a bone with a bow on it. It’s the only day in the year when you’ll give me one, I don’t know why, but you do, so let’s have it.”
While I love Christmas trees, and the more ornate the better, I won’t put one up at home. I used to when my children were young. Our cat perched herself in place of the angel, and the dog peed a few times until he was banned from the festivities, and left to howl in the backyard.
Today our children are grown and out of the house and Alf and I don’t really care to get involved with the untangling of lights, dusting off of ornaments and hunting for the perfect tree that doesn’t cost a paycheck.
Instead we put a wreath on the front door, full of color and flair of the season. This suggests there are Christmas decorations inside the house.
You’d be wrong.
You wouldn’t see a jingle bell, or a poinsettia, or even hear Christmas music.
I do showcase the few Christmas cards we receive on a living room table. People don’t send them anymore. We get more of the email version with a series of pictures. It’s hard to put those out.
My neighbors next door shun the Christmas hoopla like a disease, too. Both our houses are shrouded in darkness. Meanwhile the rest of the neighborhood is ablaze with icicles dripping from eaves, twinkling reindeer on front lawns, and blinking trees in windows.
These are our Indian neighbors.
Calvin says, “I remember those episodes of howling in the back. They crushed the fun right out of my puppy heart.”
It’s the season. As I walk down mid-Market the buildings are showing off their trees.
They seem to pop up from the underground overnight.
Who decorates them, I wonder?
Do companies have “decoteams” that appear at night, dressed in black, with boxes and ladders and glue guns?
Or do they contract out? Probably wiser since you don’t need them the rest of the year, unless of course they’re your HR people.
“Christmas decorator for hire. Experienced with 12 foot trees and all the trimmings. Any color scheme. Brings her own tools and elves.”
Here are some of them:
Okay, so the poinsettia isn’t a tree and it required no decorating, but these plants say Christmas more to me than a tree.
Calvin says, “Christmas trees – ugh. Not easy lifting a leg around those low hanging ornaments.”
What is it about holiday parties that they always seem the same? I’ve hosted hundreds of them, attended even more, and every one of them is a replica of years past. The dinner whether served buffet style or delivered to the table, is usually the same fare – the requisite ham, turkey, and green bean casserole. I know some of you love all this tradition, but I don’t. I want to bring out the chicken smothered in mole sauce with a garnish of pomegranate seeds. Or a steaming hot bowl of pho with hard boiled egg, thin slices beef and mint leaves. I know. The kids would go “Eeu!” and grandma would roll her eyes and keel over. Mention Christmas and your taste buds come scrambling into your mouth, all jostling for position to be first in line for tradition.
Did you know that smell is the strongest sense we have? We can lose our eyesight, our taste buds can go south, touch is no longer accurate, and sound, well, don’t get me started. Smell, on the other hand, can take you back to your childhood when you came running into your mother’s kitchen to snatch a slice of freshly baked bread slathered with rich butter. Or it can remind you of your first glass of pink champagne when you breathed in the bubbles and they raced up your nose and made you sneeze like crazy, or when you got a whiff of a gardenia bush on a hot summer night letting off it’s sweet, sultry fragrance.
I’d like to start some new traditions that include not only exotic culinary delights, but aromas that would provide us with a new library of memories that would lead us into the future. Like smoked, crushed chiles, Spanish saffron, spicy chocolate, and star anise.
Calvin says, “Yep, smell is my obsession. I’m intoxicated by fox droppings.”