Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

January 1, 2010

The New Year and Christmas Lights...

No, it's not what you're thinking. I am not going right into that old trite and cliched "resolution" talk. I used to have lots of resolve and willingness to change, but got tired of trying to psyche myself into new habits when I really hadn't worked on breaking the old and worn out ones during the year. Change just doesn't happen overnight or from New Year's Eve to the next day, no matter how loud we yell or get wild or toast the most or smooch the pooch - no, it might take an all-nighter like Scrooge had to really affect the repentance we all need. Just takes a lot of work, slow and steady, enduring to the end. So I'm not giving up or giving out! But let's get to the real priority of the New Year - the Christmas lights! And so I give you "Christmas Lights, Fights and Rights"!

"Now that I’m older and “wiser”, I have a lot more questions than answers. Like, when is it ok to take down the Christmas lights? I am not happy about it every New Year, because I want to start out the year right - but it is always a bone of contention, whatever that means, among the family and neighbors as to when it’s ok. Well, let’s go back to the beginning to get some needed perspective on this annual dilemma -the hanging of the lights in the first place! They go up the day after Thanksgiving and they stay up as long as I want them to – or so I thought.

"Actually, we weren’t always the first on our block to get them up. One year, we got beat out by a young couple across the street with little twin girls. All of a sudden, I look out the window and there this guy is, on the roof, of all the nerve, with his wife holding the ladder – and the twins dancing around the yard, getting their glee in before us. Right then, I told everyone to drop the turkey leftovers and head for the front of the house, that the lights were going up, ready or not!

"But, to our humiliation, as we pulled out last years lights, half of them didn’t work. Shannon is usually the one who is on top of this, but who could blame her - we did! But we got over it and we started with the tall stuff on the front eaves first to soothe our guilt, and make it look like it had just slipped by us. Soon Sean, number seven child and all 6’ 6’ of him, was standing on a ladder that was shorter than he was, stretching those shot-blocking arms in pain while Shannon held on to the ladder and his shoes, and while I took my esteemed directorial place in my lawn chair out front to make sure that the lights were going up evenly and politically correct across the front of the house and wouldn’t embarrass us throughout the coming season.

"So, after Sean got those red and white dangling icicles up across the top of the eaves, from the highest rafters and beams, we decided not to light the carport – too much junk accumulation that did not need any more illumination. Next I found a strand of white lights and delicately wove them in and out among the shrubs which grace the front walkway. I also bought some of them there net lights in red, a new touch from last year, and laid them carefully across the other thicker bushes to the right of the front door. Are you getting all this? Can you see it? Ain’t it purty? Will anyone really care?

"Ok, so while Shannon and Sean were highlighting the front window ledge with fake Poinsettia in the planter boxes, and placing the green garlands aesthetically about the top of the front door, I ran out to Rite-Aid and got two red hanging “peace” and “joy” banners to put on the wood panels on each side of the front door. Wow, things were shaping up! And when night came, it was magic! Just never had any real snow yet to make it look more authentic! Shannon did the tree the next day all by herself - sorry, we’re into fake trees too after many years of trying to keep real ones alive from Thanksgiving to Christmas! More pine needles on the floor than on the tree! But back to the New Year issue at hand.

"So my first challenge of the New Year is not resolutions! It’s fighting for my rights to keep up the lights? My lights rights are inalienable – or unalienable – or alienating – or maybe alien-attracting. I want them up – the first ones up and the last ones down! But once we’ve shown our invincibility at keeping them up the longest, then why not just leave them up till…Valentines? They’ve got hearts and candy in the stores already.. And our lights are red and white! Why not? Ok, Epiphany! January 6! The last of the 12 days of Christmas? Yes? No? My January 14 birthday. Can we negotiate? Or maybe till Candlemas?

"Now there’s an idea that you who lament with me can grab onto. Candlemas is a Northern European celebration of lights, halfway through Winter, to recognize an old Hebrew tradition of Mary having to wait to be clean from birth before entering the temple – and to look forward to Spring – but I like the one that celebrates Jesus as the light of the world, and extends the Christmas celebrations till then. And when is it? Febrruary 2! But that’s Groundhog Day, you say! Yes, we bumpkins over here in America adopted that one mid-winter tradition that became what is now Punxatawny Phil seeing his shadow or not. This tradition also originated with some northern Celts, only I think theirs was a rat.

"But if you really want to resolve the lights issue, I say leave them up till Candlemas, light some candles on February 2, enjoy the dark and chill of January a lot more by leaving up the decorations and letting Christmas slowly fade out instead of that abrupt day after New Year’s demolition derby most people do, while the kids cry and the parents try to overcome their guilt by getting sloshed. Not necessary! Just let it ride a few more weeks till February 2, burn those scented candles a little more, and sit down and watch Bill Murray’s classic 'Groundhog Day' movie – and forget about any neighbors who storm your house clamoring for your head because your Christmas lights are keeping them up at night. Just tell them you’re observing that ancient religious holiday of your forefathers called Candlemas, and you’ll call the ACLU on them for defamation and bigotry and discrimination if they keep up their persecution. Then be nice later and take them a candle and blow it out in their face."

1 comment:

  1. I'm guessing the young couple with twins was Susan and Ron? I remember Sean and I putting those lights up. One of these Christmas Seasons I'll be back to really spruce up your Christmas lights. Maybe the outside trees next year? Start buying a whole bunch of new lights while they're on sale!