Friday, December 24, 2010

Ho, ho, hum

Oh, is it Xmas again?

The math department used to have a clerk for whom the holidays were irresistible opportunities to tart up the office with festive paraphernalia. I particularly remember a Christmas when wreathes and cut-outs and posters adorned the hallways and all of the office doors.

“Nice pixie you've got there,” I said to a colleague, admiring the colorful cut-out figure that bore an embarrassingly close resemblance to the aforementioned colleague. Short and baby-faced math professors have a rough way to go, let alone getting confused with elves and pixies. We speculated on whether the selection of the pixie figure had been deliberate or fortuitous*.

I escaped with a nondescript wreath, although I pushed it aside because it was obscuring the final exam schedule I had posted.

The current staff of the department is a little more restrained, for which I am grateful. Most of the decorations remain in the staff office and don't invade the faculty precincts. There are, of course, colleagues who put up their own decorations, but at least they don't put anything on my office door.

For some reason, I have not the slightest impulse to mark holidays with decorations or special outfits. I marvel at the people who have the time, patience, and inclination to festoon their homes with elaborate displays of holiday lights and animatronic Santas. It strikes me as peculiar, while I guess most people regard it as perfectly normal behavior.

No doubt I am the peculiar one.

This week I was perusing some books in a local independent store. One of the staff members there is an old classmate of mine. He was wearing a red and green holiday hat that looked like a flaccid dunce cap. I wanted to ask him if his boss made him wear it, but I restrained myself.

Some things I don't need to know.

Have a nice holiday, whether you dress up or not, and whether or not you have strobe lights in your front yard that are keeping the neighbors up at night. (I'll be the guy with the blanket pulled over his face.)

*My colleague even understood that “fortuitous” means “by chance” rather than “fortunate”—or at least it used to.


Kathie said...

No decorations here. Too much like work. Especially when people who put up outdoor displays must do it in brutally cold weather. Not to mention what it does to their electric bills. Sheesh, really... OTOH, a few major (inadorned) evergreens growing in the yard are nice around the solstice.

Bob Becker said...

Oh, I don't know. Look at it this way. Modern farming and transport have more or less eliminated much that used to be seasonal. I can buy fresh strawberries here in Utah in January and fresh oranges in December. But the holidays remain as seasonal markers. Christmas is winter, snow, sleds, displays, excited kids. Thanksgiving is fall and turkeys. The fourth of July is summer, young women in sun dresses, picnics, barbecues and parades.

I kind of like the idea of people decorating homes, stringing lights [though we both agree it can get out of hand] to mark the season precisely because much of what used to be seasonal in our lives isn't any more. And it's not just food. We can hop on a plane and swim in the ocean in January, or hop on another one and ski in July, and ice skate indoors all year round. But Christmas is indelibly seasonal and I'm glad is there. Lit up lawns and all.

Kathie said...

OK, Mudge, YOU can come string some lights on our house, out in the bitter subfreezing temps ;-)))