During the holidays one of the pleasures of my childhood was the night when my parents drove us around Sacramento to see the decorated houses. There was one street called “Christmas Tree Lane” with every house in a blaze of lights in strange and wonderful configurations. It was spectacular. I appreciate the creative efforts that these industrious house-decorating artists take to enliven our ordinary landscapes with bright, warm, good cheer once a year when dark descends early. On my daily walk to work in Brooklyn, I found several decorated brownstones—one in particular has sweet, goofy, inflated figures of Charlie Brown, Lucy and Santa. My sister, Kathryn King, who now lives in the house where we grew up, contributed the photo of a house across the street from ours. She watched as the neighbor spent an entire day on the roof carefully placing each light and every night he checks to make sure all is in place. I treasure these lights in the dark–these “home-made” traditions–as people are now hiring companies to do the decorating for them—and miss the point completely.
When I can’t stand to hear another ‘40s or ‘50s Christmas song again—my favorite antidote is by the Pogues. And thanks to David Letterman for bringing us the great Darlene Love for 28 years with Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)–here’s a new compilation of many.
I am taking a break from ZiLL and I leave with a few of my favorite quotes, I think appropriate for the season:
Expect nothing, Live frugally on surprises—Alice Walker
Hope for the best, expect the worst. . . . High anxiety, you win—Mel Brooks
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity—Simone Weil