To begin with, today's post will be entirely in English (like you haven't noticed that I've been writing Finglish all along...) and I'd really like to get some comments on whether people want me to continue to write in English or if this will be a once-in-a-year-thing. As a matter of fact, it would be interesting to know whether there is still someone out there reading my blog so please, do comment!
Thanksgiving most definitely marks the beginning of Christmas here and it seems like Black Friday dragged along a sleigh full of all things Christmassy - Christmas lights, carols, decorations and most of all, these weird red bows that taxis have attached to their front bumper! It's still really hard for me to wrap my head around December and around the fact that Christmas is only three weeks away, it's just way too sunny (although it's been raining all day), too bright, too autumn-like and too warm for it to be Christmas yet. Even though I'm going home to spend the Christmas with the nearest and dearest, I still feel like I'm spending my second Christmas here and everything is not as brand new as it was a year ago. However, I'm still amazed by the amount of glitter Americans seem to attach to Christmas from trees to Christmas lights. Everything is just a little bit more excessive, a little bit more sparkly - and also more tacky to tell you the truth but that is what makes American Christmas a concept in itself and I'm proud to say that I've fallen in love with the way-too-perfect-to-be-real Christmas trees that these people put up weeks in advance (and yes, these trees hold on to their pine needles for weeks in end and why wouldn't they when they obviously have not been dragged out of the nearest forest?)
One thing that we oh-so-clear-headed Finns in DC love to do is judge the Americans for their over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations. It is something we haven't experienced (even though it's definitely making its way to Finland!) and we just find it so American (American in this case meaning hillbilly and unsophisticated which is funny considering that I've met here some of the most sophisticated people in the world with something extra - the ability to be genuinely nice; yep, some stuck-up Europeans could definitely learn something from their distant cousins). Anyway, it seems that Americans love to compete in everything so why should wrapping your house in twinkly lights and adding flying reindeer, a Santa Claus figurine, a couple of snowmen and backing all this with a soundtrack that would make even the craziest Christmas-buff puke be any exception? Oh no, there is no reason and that is what makes it so much fun! We get to laugh at the people who have no taste whatsoever and who are not afraid to show it. We Finnish people are just way too concerned with what other people think.
People have taken Christmas decorating so far that there are actual websites which show the most awesome aka the most ridiculous homes. These websites usually include pictures of the house and also tell where and how to find this place so that people can take time from their busy lives to drive to a neighborhood where the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" has been taken to an entirely new level. You then take plenty of photos to show to your relatives during the quiet days in between Christmas and New Year's and secretly wish that you had the guts to put up something equally obscene and FUN. Because when you think about it, what was it that you loved as a child? Was it the moderate and tasteful no-color lights that made no noises and/or twinkled? Or the lights that were the loudest, made up of all the colors of the rainbow and that your mom told you would never, I repeat, NEVER buy? I think people who are brave enough to turn their homes into public laughing stocks have not lost touch with their inner child but instead cherish the tackiness that lives inside everyone one of us (yes, also inside of you) and what would be a better season to show it than Christmas? Or I might be totally wrong with this one - it is also possible that these people are just nuts.
Be as it may, Christmas is a magical time of year, one that lights up our lives when the winter is darkest and brings hope and warmth into our lives. In a way, lights are not even needed when you feel the light of Christmas in your heart. So remember everybody, with all the craziness and hassle that comes with the holidays that this is the time to be merry and to tell the people around you that you love them. Try not to forget that.