Ah, the New Year!
I don’t know about you, but the New Year is a very happy time for me, a time for celebration. It’s not because I believe the next twelve months will be ever so much better and brighter than 2018 (although that’s not a very high bar to clear, if you know what I mean…). And it’s not that I have made solemn resolutions to be a kinder, gentler soul than in previous months. That won’t happen--not because of being irresolute, but because every new day presents a new challenge to that solemn vow when you are a born New Yorker and witty sarcasm is like a birthright, even if you move 3,000 miles west to the terminally nice Pacific Northwest.
No, the first week of the new year makes me happy because it means the hideous Christmas candy canes that hang from utility poles in the center of our little island town will be taken down at last. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a bah humbug person at Christmas. Far from it. I love how Christmas makes folks smile more and give generously to good causes. But these candy cane eyesores do test one’s holiday spirit.
Let me explain. These seasonal “ornaments” are composed of rows of ratty red and formerly white (now gray) streamers wrapped around a frame which, thanks to being clipped to the power lines, are illuminated at night. It must be said that the dark helps. History tells us that candy canes had their characteristic curve at one end to represent a shepherd’s crook. But to me they look like old barber poles with a bad case of brewer’s droop.
And, speaking of history, this is how ours came about: our little town’s retailers all had their own Christmas decorations, which they stored in the attic of the pharmacy. A fire there destroyed them (and the pharmacy). That Thanksgiving, at a local college football game, a sharp eared island spectator overhead someone in the bleachers mention he had a commercial ornaments business. Our civic-minded resident pounced and was taken to this fellow’s warehouse where, it being past Thanksgiving, all the attractive Christmas paraphernalia had long since been rented. The only thing left was the one thing no one with any taste at all wanted, specifically the cheesy plastic candy canes. Thus, they arrived on this benighted isle…where they have been in use ever since, despite very clearly losing their initial luster…such as it was.
The candy canes are like the Emperor’s missing clothes (except they’re not missing). Many on the island consider them a beloved, if bedraggled, tradition.
Others, like me, wish we had a bonfire night tradition like they do in England…and that the canes were the fuel.
They’ve been taken down this week, which is a mercy. But they’ll be back next year. Oh yes, they’ll be back.
It’s a tradition, you see…