Friday, December 17, 2004

Tis the Season to be Tacky

I must confess that Halloween is my favorite holiday, but I enjoy the Christmas season too. It's a time to celebrate with family and friends, which has an exciting dimension for me since my relatives resemble Cousin Eddie and crew from Christmas Vacation. For Florida residents, there are wonderful Christmasy things to do, like seeing the Candlelight Processional at Epcot or heading over to Arabian Nights or the Dixie Stampede for the Christmas show. If you're a displaced denizen of the north and are lonely for ice and snow, visit the ice festival at the Gaylord or romp around in the soap bubble snowflakes on Market Street.

But although I enjoy all of those things, my favorite part of the season is the tacky decorations. I'm not talking about tasteful, low-key displays; I'm talking major Griswold, and the more tasteless, the better. If I can't hear the whir of your electric meter spinning, you don't have enough lights. If I can actually walk through your yard without bumping into a plastic or inflatable figure, it's too plain.

Thus far, I've had to live vicariously because we are still in transit and I don't have the time or supplies to tart up my home to my high...er, low standards. But there are plenty of cool houses in Celebration to give me my fix.

Although lights and plastic are my usual criteria, I must admit that there's one low-key display that gives me a chuckle every time I pass it. It's on biggest, fanciest house on "Millionaire's Row" as you enter East Village. Last year, that house was professionally decorated, and it struck me as elaborate but sterile. It was pretty, but in a "I can't be bothered myself so I'll just pay to have it done for me" way. Then it was sold, and the new residents obviously have a sense of humor. Up on top of the canopy, you'll see a Santa Claus figure. Take a closer look: he's a "bad Santa," holding a Christmas tree overhead, ready to fling it down to the ground!

Nearby is another great house; the outside is cool enough, but as an added treat, it was on the Holiday House Tour this year, so I got to see the inside as well. I love the annual house tour, which is a fund-raising event in which several Celebration residents open their homes to visitors. You purchase tickets and go from house to house, checking out their holiday decorations and generally being nosy. It's so much fun to see the various homes, floor plans, and decor; I enjoy doing that any time, so the holiday decorations are just the icing on the cake.

This year, there were supposed to be seven houses participating, but one had to drop out due to a family illness. That left six, and I was disappointed to discover that one of those was a model in Artisan Park that I had visited previously. Oh well, that still left five to troop through. My sister-in-law, Margaret, and grandnephew were visiting for the weekend, so I enlisted Margaret to accompany me. The grandnephew is eight years old and wanted nothing to do with a house walk, so my husband hauled him off to Old Town for a couple of hours riding spin-and-pukes.

The first homes we visited were elegant and tasteful. The decor reminded me of a museum, and the Christmas trees and other decorations were lovely. Two of them were located across from the golf course and only a few doors apart, and they were both stunning. Another was one that I have often noticed while biking due to its unique blue color and Victorian charm. Inside, it was decorated almost completely in purple, even down to the pool table felt. One house had many oil paintings, while another was heavy on sports memorabilia. I love seeing those little collections that make a home unique. I actually have one of my own: over 100 pairs of comedy and tragedy masks, plus other lamps and knick-knacks.

But although the homes were lovely, I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. Not one of them had the delightful tackiness that, for me, is the hallmark of the season. Not to worry...back in good old East Village was the house I mentioned earlier, complete with a gaudy yard display and an even more exciting interior, right down to the Whoville roast beast on the kitchen table. Santa was relaxing in the bathtub, and "Christmas Vacation" was playing on the television. Best of all were the various figures from the Rankin-Bass specials. I am a major Snow Miser fan, and nothing says "Christmas spirit" to me like seeing familiar figures such as Rudolph and the Bumble.

The homeowner was in the kitchen dressed as a clown, with a candy reward for any visitor who could located all of the Will Ferrell elves hanging throughout the house. Sure, the other homes had been lovely in their own way, but now I could feel the Christmas spirit warming the cockles of my heart. I had found my favorite house.

I can't brag too much tackiness back at Duloc Manor, although I am the proud owner of what must surely be one of the tackiest Christmas trees in Celebration. It is an atrocious silver monster; not the genuine article from the 1960s, but the closest replica I could find without doing an Ebay crapshoot.

I have fond memories of my '60s childhood and a big silver monstrosity towering in the requisite picture window of our cookie cutter Chicago bungalow. It was loaded down with shiny metallic balls; the more the better, as more balls means more reflective surface area to refract the groovy glow of the color wheel.

A few years ago, I spotted color wheels for sale in a mail order catalog, so I knew that retro silver trees couldn't be far behind. Sure enough, a year later, my husband and I were shopping at Season's End (a holiday store) when I looked up and heard a chorus of angels behind me. There it was: The Tree of My Dreams. It was set up on the display floor in all its shiny silver glory. Once my husband had mopped the drool off my chin, I asked a sales person where I might find a boxed model. "Nowhere," he said; they were all sold out.

But I was not to be denied. I had not scaled the mountain only to be denied that last triumphant step to the peak. I insisted that I would take the floor model, complete with cotton display "snow" stuck among its branches. The sales person must have recognized my obsession, as he didn't protest too mightily before digging up a box and stuffing in my silvery prize.

No tacky silver tree is complete without a complement of color wheels. Yes, wheels, as in plural. I have not one, not two, nor even three...MY tree blazes above the spinning fire-hazard glow of four color wheels. I documented the fun of getting the tree to Celebration in an earlier blog entry. We didn't bring our ornaments, so we ended up buying some at the new Super Target on 192.

First we visited the Olde Tyme Pottery Hell Hole or whatever it's called. I like to purchase seasonal decorations there at less insane times of the year, but this was apparently much too close too Christman. The crowd was only slightly less of what you might encounter in the Magic Kingdom on New Years Eve. Since we had forgotten to pack or Tasers, attempting to even get close to the Christmas section seemed foolhardy; I won't even mention the multi-day wait at the checkout counters.

After barely escaping the wall-to-wall mass of humanity, my husband and I headed off to Super Target. Surprisingly, it wasn't crowded at all; we attribute that to the fact that no one can figure out how to get in. With the 192 construction, you'd have a better chance of making it through a minefield than getting into the Target parking lot. And if you plan to make a left turn to get out, pack a lunch and a sleeping bag.

I was anxious to make my tree as tacky as possible, so we bought silver and purple metallic balls. The purple clashes nicely with the blue/gree/red/orange of the color wheels, and the silver shows that I'm tasteless enough to buy ornaments that blend into the tree color. If people spontaneously hurl when they see my tree, then I know that I've accomplished my aim. I also have a "leg lamp" from A Christmas Story that my brother gifted me with early just so I can enjoy it for a while this year. It's going in my window as soon as we return from our Christmas cruise so I can enjoy it till New Years.

This year, the tastelessness at Duloc Manor is relatively low key, but next year, I plan to do a yard display complete with Snow Miser, Heat Miser, and some other fun and tacky surprises.

Speaking of tacky, we have a new nativity for downtown Celebration; not that the display itself is tacky (it's actually very lovely), but the behavior of the tourists must be making Jesus, Mary, and Joseph cringe as they observe from their heavenly vantage point. Since Celebration is located close to the theme parks, some of the tourists apparently thing that everything, including the display, is supposed to be interactive. As we were walking near the lake, my husband and I observed a woman directing her kids to pose arm-in-arm with mary and Joseph so she could take a photo. Sigh! We made some loud observations about disrespectfulness, but the Idiot Family was oblivious. At least I didn't see anyone trying to stick sparklers into the menorah at the other end of the street.

Soon we'll be returning to Celebration; we're sailing on the Disney Wonder for Christmas, and then we head home for the New Year holiday. We haven't seen the downtown snowfall yet this year, and I can't wait to see how Lexin's version compares to how Disney used to run it. When Disney was in charge, every hour they blared a scratchy introductory announcement, followed by several minutes of tinny, theme-parkesque Christmas music. Very corny, which of course means I loved it.

I'm sure I'll do another blog entry before the holidays are over, but just in case I don't, I'll sign this one off with a wish from my very favorite commercial (for Virgin cell phones...if you haven't seen it, watch for it on Comedy Central. It's a riot!): If you are a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew, or maybe you're agnostic and don't know what to do...MERRY CHRISTMAHANAKWANZAKAH TO YOU!

(And if you have no clue what that means, click here for the best-ever all-inclusive holiday song.

You can email me with comments at celebration@mailblocks.com

1 comment:

Megan said...

I found your blog on the Disney Blog - very entertaining! I'm enjoying reading through your archives (which is why I posted here, today!). Anyway, I really liked reading your entries regarding the Celebration myths - I've always wondered about those, as well.

Also, I have to comment about this post - while Christmas decorations are well and good, what really gets me is people who leave their decorations up until February. What's that all about?

Anyway, just wanted to drop a line and say "hello" from Chicago, where we are sure to get snow in the next few weeks!