Monday, December 23, 2013

Deck Your Halls

Sociologists look for meaning in the mundane. Our study of the quotidian brings into focus the unremarkable, and gives it explanation and perspective. So last night we drove to Christmas Circle and were delighted by the lights, the baubles, and the spectacle. On the ride home, I got to to thinking about the sociology of decking our proverbial halls, but more specifically, the outside of our houses, and why we do it. Our street, for example, is a microcosm of every creed, habit, socioeconomic level, and attitude you could imagine. We've got cholos on our right, Ethiopian immigrants to the left and WASPy, BMW-driving lawyers in front. Regardless of these differences, each house is lit up with some manner of holiday decoration - from the simple wreath on the door, to the spectacle of lights rivaling the one in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Why? Because wintry displays are a symbol to your neighbors that you value merry-making. If there was ever a time to show off your classiest or gaudiest display of lights, it's the darkest time of the year. Your glittering lawn ornaments say something to your neighbors that you might not be able to say in person, like:

"It's dark. It's cold. But we'll get through this together: you, me, and the 20-foot inflatable snowman on my roof."

Neighborhood holiday decorations remind us that even though the days are short and the nights freezing, there's a glimmer of hope, a symbol of solidarity, and a silent wish that you, too, enjoy the season.


  1. I think I'll have to take a few sociology classes to fully understand what you're trying to say. :P But Merry Christmas to you too! : )


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