We need to talk about Christmas.
Mainly because I’m the only one in America with the baubles to do so.
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas over here is like everything else in America – absolutely massive.
In the UK, the biggest radio stations sprinkle classic Christmas tunes into their playlist from mid-December. But out here, brand new stations are created out of thin air, exclusively to belt out Christmas songs, 24/7. I tell you, all I want for Christmas is to not hear Mariah Carey’s god awful song every 15 minutes.
And when it comes to making their homes feel festive, Californians in my area don’t just roll out the dog-eared tinsel and old Christmas tree ornaments from years past. They literally spend thousands of dollars in an effort to outdo their neighbours, and transform their homes into a festive freak show that passers-by can gawk at.
Being the scrooge that I am, the closest we get to a light display at our house is when the outside security sensor is triggered. So if I want to give the kids a real treat, I get them to run up and down the driveway a bunch of times.
Below are some photos I took on a random drive around the neighborhood. Now, had I been better prepared, I would have pre-planned my route to make sure I caught them all. The option to do this has been made possible by someone with far too much time on their hands, who has plotted on a map every house worth a visit, for the past 17 years straight. I kid you not – people like that actually exist out here. Check it out: www.lightsofthevalley.com.
But in spite of all this, no one utters the word ‘Christmas’. Instead, they talk about “the holidays”. What they’re doing for the holidays, who they’re spending the holidays with. Even though the only reason they have a holiday, is because of Christmas. It completely baffles me.
Americans like precision. Out here, it’s not just enough to enjoy watching an end-to-end game. A true fan knows the stats of his favorite team to within an inch of his life. He can recall batting averages, MVP counts and running yards quicker than his kids’ birthdays. This is a country that opted for “sidewalk” as a better, more specific alternative to “pavement”. And a place where sales tax is only added to a price when you actually complete the sale.
But try to make someone drop the C-bomb, and they get all funny about it.
I’ve been doing my best to get people to crack. I’ll get up in their grill and talk about turkey, mistletoe, wreaths… you name it, I’ve gone there just to show them that I’m ok with the c-word. That I can handle it.
But I’ve realized it’s not a war I can win. So, as it’s a time for giving, I’ll be magnanimous in defeat and graciously let my American friends have the holidays they richly deserve.
p.s. As Caitlyn proved, in the US something is only worth doing if you get your own reality TV show out of it. Behold: The Great Christmas Light Fight.