Mack Williams: Christmas lights by day

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 6, 2019

Mack Williams

Just one more piece about Christmas lights this season, my humble stretching of those “12 Days,” at least until Epiphany: today! Too many people have too early consigned Christmas 2018’s tree to the wood chipper, or to High Rock Lake as a new home for minnows.
Maybe I’ve become a little boy again in my fascination with Christmas lights, a “little boy” with newly-installed hips and some “newly-installed gout,” the flare of which only recently concluded before Christmas. It’s been a time of pain, cherry juice, lemon juice (lemons, themselves, paraphrase: “When life gives you lemons, eat them!”), apple cider vinegar, lots of water, diet changes, and some interesting reading about the “gout bouts” of Ben Franklin and Henry VIII (and, in connection with that last-mentioned monarch, a “googling” every now and then of a silly old song by Herman’s Hermits.)
But enough of gout. From “flare” to lights!
Local businesses annually assemble Christmas displays in Danville’s Ballou Park. Being “analogous,” I think of “Cat Ballou” (1965), but I have no expectation of ever seeing a Christmas display there portraying a drunken Lee Marvin seated on an equally inebriated horse, both leaning against a building.
The city charges $7 per car and $14 per van to drive through at leisurely (and stopping) pace. “Price per load” reminds me of some drive-in movie theaters of the past.
I recently exercise-walked past some of these displays during their “solar” illumination (daytime). Seeing their light bulb-supportive “skeletons” diminished their nighttime “suspension of disbelief.” Translucent, plastic “bones” of deer-form displays looked like seasonally “art-and-crafted” icicles. Being daytime, none of the lights blinked, “ran” or even emblazoned. Like insects’ compound eyes, their glass bulbs only reflected things around them: trees, sky, squirrels, and me.
The first display’s sponsor was “all too seasonal,” reflecting lengths some people go to for a special gift for someone special. In addition to “decoration proper,” there were two-foot signs equipped with flood lights to illuminate (and advertise) for all to see: “— — PAWN SHOP”(I left out the full name for reason of the business’s anonymity, and because they might not particularly appreciate my tone).
A Veteran’s organization had lights already lit in several one-man tents beside an old US Army truck beside a Christmas tree decorated with lights and what resembled empty K-ration cans (I thought of the Battle of the Bulge). The tree’s star was dwarfed by the star on the old US Army truck.
The Boy Scouts had tents which would become lit with “the turning of night’s switch.” I thought back to camping with my son Jeremy’s Bartlett Yancey High School biology class at Hanging Rock State Park around the year 2000. The nighttime “tent world” was cozy, snug,and safe, with taut canvas above mimicking the “not-so-taut” universe overhead.
One church set up snow-white wooden spires tapering skyward like fir trees (thin ones), also reminiscent of snow-white church steeples. Turned upside-down, they would have resembled those great tapering icicles seasonally hanging off that front porch corner of my boyhood Old Concord Road home.
Remnants of “arboreal decorations” laid down (“laid low”) back in the Fall, and of no festive nature whatsoever were gathered and stacked about, only a few still lying where they had fallen. These were there, courtesy of tropical storms Florence and Michael, and were still waiting for carting away by city “brush trucks.” Perhaps lights should have been strung on them as well!
One particular trunk, lying across the park’s stream would have been perfect as a “light bridge.” A stack of pine logs (trunks) made me think of the stack of plastic “pipes” on my childhood Lionel Train Set’s flat car (Christmas 1957).
As luck would have it, I never got to see the Park’s decorations lit up at night, but a daytime viewing proved inspiring enough!

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