We’re moving toward Christmas now; closer and closer we get, my children, my beloveds. Listen to me, because I have a ceremonial theory that the celebration of death, which begins with the Day of the Dead or Halloween, progresses on to the Day of the Dead Bird – Thanksgiving – in which we eat the dead, finally, (although a dead of the avian kind) and, saddened by this ritual murder – and looking forward for one more month or so to steady decrease in light – we begin to manufacture light and therefore hope for our saddened selves in small and colored ways. We make up elaborate Christmas fantasies, but each at its core has to do with the lightening of dark and not the darkening of light. We’ve finally had enough of darkening. We want light. That’s my theory and that’s my story.
When I was a kid in Fresno, the one thing we did each year at Christmas was the piling into whatever car my dad had – he was selling used cars through much of this time – and head for the rich people’s houses on Van Ness Avenue. For two miles on a street where old people had planted trees tall enough to be lit at night in Decembers, for almost a hundred years, Fresnans had inched their cars with headlights hopefully off down that tunnel of fantasy called Christmas Tree Lane. In the Fifties of the late, lamented and thoroughly last of centuries, the cars were as beautiful to look at as were the Santas-in-Sleds or Playful-Elves-Around-The-Chimney or all the lighted mansions. (In Fresno, anything with two stories is technically a mansion. We are a people of one-story ranch houses, for the most part, and any elevation is looked up to.)
Out of the darkness come the little lights. Up here on Mystery Island, it’s now the season of sundown at four-thirty and that just seems to give the Christmas lights an earlier opportunity to shine. It’s been snowing this week and the little lights glint off the snow and the lightedness is doubled or so. The little lights shine in the dark. I feel much better once the lights are shining and I leave them on all the grey and snowy days as well. My friend Mrs. Lobo gave us an eight-foot-tall snowman with an orange carrot nose who shines and waggles in the wind and wishes Happy Holidays to everyone who drives onto this island because we’ve set him up in the corner of the pasture that the whole island passes by every day. And night.
Did I mention the part about the little lights coming out of the dark?