Saturday, December 27, 2008

ARK, BOOK & CANDLE (Or, The ABCs Of Xmas Decorating)

To some folks, decorating their house for Christmas is as much a competition with their neighbors as it is a celebration of the birth of Christ. That’s not how it is for my Brother and I (and it’s a good thing, too, because on this street, we get wiped out every year), but it’s still kind of fun to joke about . . .

When our neighbors directly across the street from us came home from shopping one day in late November and saw Nappy and I out hanging Christmas lights, one of them jokingly yelled across the street, “So, it’s ON now, huh?”

Well, for years I’ve (necessarily) argued that it’s not really the quantity but the quality that counts when evaluating a Christmas display. After all, there is the important factor of “balance” to be considered. Oh, sure, those people down the street may have fourteen million lights twinkling on their house, “but they have no concept of BALANCE!” And “balance” means whatever you need it to mean when the neighbors are kicking your butt like you’re a mangy dog they own.

Well, here in Phoenix, there are some really impressive Christmas light displays, some real Xmas Xtravaganzas, and some of the folks on my street put on a fairly good show, but there is one family that has such unique Christmas decorations that their house has become my favorite in this city. In fact, making a special trip to view their house at night is one of my many Christmas traditions. First, I go to a nearby Burger King to get a hot cup of their Douwe Egbert’s “Rich Coffee” (Douwe Egbert - don’t ya just love that name?), and then I drive to the house in question . . .

The home at 4002 W. Thunderbird is of standard size, and facing one of the major Phoenix thoroughfares, it has perhaps an even smaller than usual front yard. Nevertheless, the Christmas decorations make it a real standout during the Holidays. Although they still look very good in the daylight, when that Airheadzona Sun is shining on them, a person is able to discern that these are homemade decorations. They have been fashioned so well and are lighted with such precision, however, that at night, they appear to be commercially manufactured.

All of these Christmas decorations are large - at least 4 to 5 feet tall or more - but what makes them so noteworthy is their uniqueness. While there are a couple of secular items included, such as a sleigh marked “North Pole Mail”, the really neat stuffs are of a religious nature: Two tall candles on either side of the yard represent the One who declared, “I am the Light of the World. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the Light of life.”

Also in the yard is an elaborate golden Ark of the Covenant. Now when did you ever see the Ark of the Covenant used as a symbol in a Christmas display? I’ve wondered how many “un-churched” people have been totally mystified by that particular decoration. I can even hear them in my mind: “Mommy, what is that big box thing?” – “Here, have another chocolate Santa and don’t talk with your mouth full.”

On the roof of the house are two signs. The first reads “KING OF KINGS” and the second one reads (Yup! You guessed it…) “LORD OF LORDS.” But in the center of the roof, between the two signs, is my favorite decoration of all. It is a representation of The Holy Bible created out of lightbulbs and it’s open to the Isaiah 9:6 prophecy which is spelled out in white lights: “UNTO US IS BORN THIS DAY A CHILD.”

These are some beautifully created and very meaningful Christmas decorations that really call to mind “The Reason For The Season.” And while I enjoy making a special trip to see them every year, I also breathe a sigh of relief that this family does not live right next door to me. How sad they would make my own Christmas display appear by comparison. Heck, I’d have to spend all of December in “HyperBitch” mode, criticizing their “pathetic lack of balance.”

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

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