White and Wrong – A kindly indictment

Anybody who knows me will tell you I’m totally Mr. Christmas.


I’m jolly, for one thing, and, as a “winter”, I look sharp in red. I also drink deeply from the cup of human kindness when thirsty, love getting free stuff, and harbor no fear of reindeer such that are properly restrained.

True, nobody who knows me ever calls me Mr. Christmas to my face, possibly because they also know I’m uncomfortable with praise, being subject to so very much of it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t apply that tender title to me outside of my hearing. It just fits, because I love everything about Christmas.

Okay, so I’m not crazy about unloading precious monies better spent on myself obtaining gifts for people who’ve possessed everything they could ever wear, watch, read, hear, and play since I gave it to them at least a dozen Christmases past.

And sure, I could do without the herd of relations flying in from all Creation, looking for a weeks-worth of sit-down suppers, messing up my guest beds and persistently trying to “catch up” in the middle of my favorite television shows.

For that matter, it kind of sticks in my Craw of Peace and Brotherhood that the networks routinely dump all of my favorite television shows each December, replacing them with syrupy seasonal fare that invariably looks cheap and canned in reruns.

And I admit to feeling a twinge of Grinch everytime some Kringle-Come-Lately throws on a free-with-your-fill-up Santa Hat and carries on like they’re Mr. Christmas, when anybody who knows me will tell you they couldn’t muster a fraction of my legendary cheer on their best day.

And then there’s the weather, which usually stinks.

On the other hand, I love Christmas lights.

A lot.

Maybe too much.

Christmas lights are the reason for the season, as far as I’m concerned. Inexpensive to purchase and to operate, the smallest string transforms the blandest landscape into a glittering realm of beauty and wonder. The monotonous paths of our lives are made splendid, the everyday enchanting, the dreary delightful and the mundane marvelous.

I will flatter myself to say that I put on a pretty decent display, myself. I do it in part for myself, because it makes coming home after dark even more agreeable than usual, and partly because Peter, my brother and Cohort in Christmas, wouldn’t hesitate to flay my hide clean off if I didn’t, but mostly I think of dressing up the house in its holiday finest as my own little gift to the neighborhood. It pleases my generous heart to think of the grateful smile that must touch my neighbors’ pursed lips as, wending their weary way home after a long day of drudgery and disappointment, they spy my fanciful handiwork through its encircling veil of trees and spontaneously recommit themselves to Charity and Good Works, and – then and there – decide to bite the bullet and pay for the costly and life-saving medical treatment so desperately needed by whomever passes for Tiny Tim in their impoverished household.

It’s my gift to the world, really, because Tiny Tim could grow up to invent some boon to all Mankind, like bacon-flavored toothpaste, or self-applicating toilet paper. You’re welcome in advance.

I confess that, driving down my street of a December night, I feel a warmth and solicitude toward those of my neighbors thoughtful enough to cheer my passage, and take disapproving note of those so dim of spirit or black of heart that they can’t be bothered. But there’s a third group on my street, and on every street, and they’re the ones to whom I direct this impassioned epistle. I’m talking about you white-light people.


One month a year you get to wreath your colorless hovels in sparkling splendor, and you choose white lights. For 31 too-short days you can illuminate your benighted lives in every shade of joy, and you put up white lights. After feasting upon the incandescent banquet that I have laid for you, you go home and plug in a string of white lights.

How is that right?

I mean, don’t you white-light people get enough undifferentiated visual stimulation every other day, hour and minute of the year? Every lamp in your house is white. The flourescent bulbs at your office are white. Car headlights are white. Streetlights are white. Flashlights are white. Your Coleman propane lantern burns white. Even the sun – the sun – is little more than a koo-koo-kajillion-watt, thermo-nuclear yard light bathing the Earth in an inexhaustible stream of radiant vanilla pabulum and keeping the solar system up at all hours.

Show some imagination, is all.

In my book, white lights aren’t properly Christmas lights at all. They’re just really tiny reading lights that you can’t possibly read by. They’re an affront to the concept of Christmas decoration. A broken promise. A cheat.

“Icicle” lights? Who do you think you’re trying to kid? They don’t look any more like icicles than Cindy Lou Who looks like a Bumble.

“Star” lights? Last time I checked, stars come in a variety of designer colors like blue giants, red dwarfs, and green clovers. Truly, you mock the very Cosmos.



I’m not trying to make trouble.

I’m not proposing that Congress enacts laws criminalizing the sale, possession and use of white “Christmas” lights, and if they did anyway I would be among the first to call for moderate sentencing guidelines for persons convicted on such charges.

It’s Christmas, after all.

I’m not asking for Peace on Earth, or a 92-inch plasma, although I wouldn’t turn my nose up at the plasma. I’m just asking for a shade more creativity. You’ve got the whole spectrum to choose from. Be the rainbow.

I’m begging you.

Color my world.