Ancient History

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Ode to Colored Christmas Lights

Joel decorating our 2011 tree

My eyes ache, as a drowsy numbness peers
My brain, as though of decaf lattes I had drunk,
Or jazzed up with dull vanilla to the froth
One minute past, and cliche-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy Upper Middle Class lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness, –
That thou, white-lighted sprawl,
In some smug Pottery Barn-approved plot
Of whisper-white but colors banned,
Singest of HOAs in full obedience.
O, for a fair-trade cocoa! that hath been
grown a long age in the eco-vacation spot,
Tasting of earth and the dollars green,
Tapas, and pan-flute song, and sunscreened skin!
O for a beaker full of the organic brew,
Full of the true, woolen-mittened grasped,
With sensible-temperatured bubbles at the brim,
And whipped cream in low fat;
That I might drink, and consider the white expanse,
And at thee wonder why thou borest me so:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou slung on young trees in yards,
The weariness, the repetitiveness, and the ease
Here, where children peer and hear each other groan;
Where van windows frost, and tiny fingers draw sad faces
Where youth grows pale, and falls asleep;
Where but to blink rapidly fools
the mind into false appreciation,
Where Beauty cannot train her lustrous eyes,
Because Linda at the HOA says so.

Away! away! for I will drive away from thee,
Carried by van and discounted gasoline,
On the hungry drive for Color,
Through the dull suburbs that perplex and hate personality:
Through with thee! tender is your light,
And haply your Linda is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her yes-men;
But there is no true light,
Save what from heaven is with actual stars
Stop trying to copy what I can see in the sky.

I cannot see what colored lights are in my heart,
Nor what soft hues hangs upon your boughs,
But, in winter darkness, I guess where
the awesome neighborhoods are where spring lives again.
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
Brought to life with LED-friendly electricity;
Fast flashing displays unleashed on trees;
And mid-December’s eldest child,
The coming Christmas, full of the spectrum glow,
The delicious rebirth of a rainbow in darkest eve.

Dark through we drive; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Conformity,
Call’d her soft names during many a cocktail party,
To take into consideration the allure of the snob;
But now more than ever seems it yawny,
To tread upon Christmas with no Color,
While thou art pouring forth thy community standing
into vain white light!
Still wouldst thou string, and have yourself in chains –
To thy high Linda become a rebel!

Thou wast not born for Tasteful Displays, subdivision dweller!
No hungry generations died for that right;
The thoughts I entertain this passing night were
Born in ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the rainbow hues that found a path
Through the gleeful hearts of The Whos Down in Whoville, when, decorating their homes,
They stood in a circle and sang;
The same song I wish to sing.
Charm’d magic colors, draped on the boughs
Of strong green branches, they had colored lights
Until Linda The Grinch stole them.

Chill out! the very phrase is a wintery command
To propel me away from thee to home!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As Linda is fam’d to do, deceiving self.
Adieu! adieu! thy plain display fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next suburb:
Color is my desire: – I see it in my dreams.
I see it my living room and porch. Do I wake or sleep?

Denver's City and County Building, lit with color every year since 1935

(I’m so sorry, John Keats)

3 comments to Ode to Colored Christmas Lights

  • edj

    BWAHAHAHAHA! Oh Linda. If you only knew how your name is blasphemed amongst the heathen, er the low-brow coloured-lights lovers 😉

  • Oh my, I am impressed. I enjoy both colored and white light. We have white on our tree, and outside when we do outside lights, but I like to look at color. The house behind ours diagonally (we share a corner of fence)has colors and music and everything and it is great. As a kid though, I always imagined my house and tree with white lights. I aspire to a classiness I don’t actually have. 😉

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