Cheap Imitations

It’s Advent and I’m angry annoyed. (Sigh)  I’ve been constructing a flaming jeremiad in my mind all weekend.  What began as a peculiar oddity – a mild embarrassment -, a massive inflatable Grinch next door, grew with the addition of a huge plastic inflatable Santa across the street, and has now gathered into an avalanche of lawn kitsch.  Apparently, bad taste is expanding. The cheap, plastic, lighted inflatables now come in groups: Santa bands (Santa in sunglasses, a penguin drummer, saxophone-playing reindeer, and a polar bear cradling a guitar) and Santa trains are proliferating along the block.

We had a blizzard yesterday.  While the wind howled and blew the darling Santa band onto their backs, I stood at the window and prayed imprecatory psalms.  This morning the deflated pieces sit in a puddle of plastic waiting for their owners to come home and blow them up.  How I have longed to blow them up myself. 

I’m trying to “put the best possible construction on the situation,” a phrase I learned in Bible school.  My neighbors want to celebrate.  They enjoy a good party.  It’s just that their plastic Santas are such a cheap imitation.  Who wants margarine after you’ve tasted butter?  Peter Kreeft (pronounced Krayft – I have to keep reminding myself) reminded me this weekend that evil cannot create, it can only imitate. 

Culture has very much to do with the human spirit.
What we find beautiful or entertaining or moving
is rooted in our spiritual life.
~ Kenneth Myers in All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes

I’m convinced that G.K. Chesterton has some wonderful quotes apropos beauty, culture and Christmas.  The only problem is that I haven’t read much Chesterton, and the quote sites only go so far.  I skimmed All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes looking for a quote and realized that I need to give this book about popular culture a slow and thorough reading. 

Meanwhile the best antidote to the very real frustration I experience is humor.  I need a way to look out the window and laugh instead of grimace.  It’s just plastic, for Pete’s sake!  I need to turn the music up, keep the good smells wafting, read through my collection of Advent poems, and remember it’s a season of joy.

If I can laugh at this video, thanks KGB, which slaughters a great hymn in a number of ways, I surely can laugh at the Santa Band.  (Why would anyone pair Christ the Lord Is Risen Today with Amore? That is beyond the beyonds.) Any other suggestions?  *A great post by Nancy Wilson relevant to the subject*

22 thoughts on “Cheap Imitations

  1. Oh, dear!  I wish I had some comforting words…..
    Since I can only see the beautiful snow-trimmed tree (you posted last week) in my mind, I have trouble imagining that anything could spoil that lovely setting.  We do have one neighbor who overdoes it, but I think it’s because she’s a kindergarten teacher and she tells her students to drive by.
    At any rate, I have a tree up (not decorated), a wreath on the door, a centerpiece on the kitchen table, plus festive finger towels in the guest bath.
    Nothing in the yard……….. wanna move?

  2. I think I need to avoid the front picture window.  And yes, I’d love to live in your neighborhood.  Again, yes, the pound cake is gone.  The last piece went in Curt’s lunch today.

  3. Uh, oh. Take a deep breath, get a glass of Chianti, and go read this week’s humor piece about Christmas decorating in the Dallas Morning News.I’m not sure imprecatory Psalms is what you want here–they aren’t necessarily trying to attack the Church with their Santa band–but you could pray that their eyes would be open as to the true meaning of Christmas!

  4. Oh, that video is painful on so many levels. I’m sorry you have tacky neighbors. (Oops, is that not nice to say? ~grin~) Pull the blinds, mull some cider, listen to some carols and pretend you live in the country, miles from the nearest neighbor. ūüôā

  5. wow, if you want some tacky Christmas items you should hear our Dickens quartet imporovise a Christmas Carol,¬†oops,¬†a¬†holiday¬†song¬†¬† in the Transamerica Pyramid or some other lobby with good accoutics and inattentive office workers…bro Dan

  6. I do read Angie’s blog!  She’s friends with Valerie, too. Grin!  Angie, meet my brother Dan.  Or have you already?  He mostly lurks.  He’s the one who started me reading blogs.  This might be the third (and fourth) comment he’s ever made here, cough, cough.  Danny, do you still wear those red plaid pants when you sing in the Dickens quartet? (chortle) I’m getting all warm and cozy (no Chianti yet, just a cup of tea) with these blog comments.  Shoot, I’m laughing!  Besides it’s dark and the shades: they be going d-o-w-n!

  7. I’m friends with Valerie and know Angie a little, too!  Isn’t it cool?
    Another elder in our church lives across the street from a mcmansion that starts decorating in September for Hallowe’en and sorta morphs it into a hugely tacky Christmas display.  Cars clog up their street (they are at the cul-de-sac end!) all season long.  What’s worse is that they know that the man who does all of this makes his money on his string of x-rated video stores!
    I need to read that issue of Credenda over…it still hasn’t sunk into my poor thick head!

    All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes was assigned to the whole family after my husband read it this year.  It’s an excellent read.

  8. Ach, those red plaid pants have long been retired. ¬†Whew!!Today is a grand day. ¬†We picked a gorgeous tree and Valeri is decorating it ¬†(don’t ask why I don’t help, it’s a lonnnng story) and we are going to watch one of our favorite Christmas movies. ¬†¬†My apologies to those who hate Christmas intruding into Advent!!bro Dannywho can’t wait until Carson and Taryn arrive!!

  9. (trying to keep Danny commenting… )I know why sweet Valeri is decorating the tree – because she’s better at it!  I hope you didn’t hurt yourself.  Knee problems?  Do I need to call you? Hmmmm!  Can you believe it that today is the first sick day Jim has ever taken?  Sterner stuff indeed!  [our brother-the-doctor fell from a ladder, broke two ribs and is recuperating]Which movie will you watch, Danny?Ah, you will have such a great time with our one-year married kids.  It would be so fun to crash your party, but then it your time with them wouldn’t be the same.  Take lots of pictures.  Taryn is going to fall in love with SF!  DON’T take them to the opera!  I need to go first!!

  10. Ah, Carol, you just need to put it in perspective.  The Grinch, after all, and Santa for that matter, DO have *something* to do with Christmas….as compared to some houses up by my good friend Judy’s which have every Disney character imaginable, including Cruella DeVille and Snow White’s evil stepmother, which have WHAT? to do with Christmas??? I just laugh on my drive up the hill to her house because these are the “wealthy” people in town – which says taste has nothing to do with money!I have a very cute little Santa hanging on my front door that reminds me of the Grandfather in Heidi. Yep, that’s as far as I’ve gotten Maybe you could use those neighbors’ decorations as an opening to talk with them about your own Christmas values.  I will have to send you a good email I got re: Christ’s view of Christmas – it might put things in a little better perspective. You DO remember the verse about loving your neighbor as yourself, right? (…this is your conscience speaking).Ho! Ho! Ho!

  11. oh my, oh my, I just watched the video. ¬†¬†That could be the worst juxtaposition ever! ¬†But I feel his pain having myself sung ¬†“blah, blah, blah” a few times…bro Dannygoing long with THREE comments. ¬†Stop me somebody, stop me!!

  12. You can rest assured that your taste and your vocabulary are better than your neighbor’s, I had to dive into my dictionary two times for your message!  I have 5yr, 3 1/2yr, 1 1/2yr and 1 month old children, so am not sure anything is safe to put up, our stockings are hung, and we are all waiting for the toddler to pull on them and konk himself on the head with the hanger thingies (you probably have a word for those ).  Husband wants to cut a cedar tree from the pasture, (I think they stink something fierce) but I am hoping we can put this off as long as possible, in the interest of not having it pulled over more than once. Two years ago, the 3 1/2 year old pulled the tree over on herself, she is an experimenter, but quick enough to get out of the way apparantly.

  13. We have new neighbors that have decorated very tastefully for Christmas, but Halloween was another story.  They built an entire graveyard in their front yard, complete with strobe lights, ghoulish noises that played all night, and boney hands reaching out.  Two of my daughters have bedrooms on that side of the house and had great difficulty sleeping.  It’s funny how Halloween seems to have evolved into party time for adults. Hmmmm……I never thought to pray those imprecatory psalms! 

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