We decorate, but why?
Pramote is keen to decorate for Christmas. Every year we put some money and a lot of time into it. He was excited to get a box on Thanksgiving from daughter Julie in the USA that has some new decorations. We are the only household to decorate for Christmas in the six villages we have anything to do with. The easy answer as to why there is no other decoration going on around here is that Christmas is not a “thing” where we live.
There are other occasions for decoration here in Northern Thailand. Many houses are lighted and gateways festooned for Loy Kratong. Weddings call for flowers.
So, as we pull the sacks and boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage and get ready to see which still work without smoking, I wonder why it’s EXCITING, because that’s why Pramote is doing this.
Why do people decorate? Where does the “kick” come from? Here’s my initial list of reasons:
1. Decorations change conditions. They break the routine, add novelty, and alter the mood. The decorations kick us out of the mundane and into an environment that’s super. This has not been a good year for most of us. Marie said she put up her Christmas tree last week because she needed Christmas NOW. I see you nodding.
2. Decorations are reminders. The mall has a faux Christmas tree almost 3 stories tall. It must have thousands of lights – cost a mint. Why? Buy! It’s a commercial reminder of what this season is about according to the mall. But the reminders are not all about putting out money. Old ornaments remind us of Christmases past. Just going through the process of stringing up the decorations can do that, too. Sometimes decorating is about the heart-tug.
3. Decorations are declarations. Actually they are not mainly tribal, although they pretend to declare “we are part of this culture that has Christmas.” Even more, they declare individuality and independence. A Christmas display proclaims, “This is one acceptable thing I can do just because I want to do it.” Why else would some people go to such effort when so many of their tribe do not? These days almost everything ELSE we do that’s outside the box is socially unacceptable.
4. Decorations are attractive. People go to see decorations. The reason behind the reason people like us decorate is the satisfaction of drawing attention. It’s the reason writers write, young people Tik-Tok, needy politicians Twitter, and we count the number of “likes” we get on Facebook. Decorations attract attention that is gratifying. We need to be appreciated.
5. Decorations express value. These are tough times. Not everybody can show off with an ostentatious display of available funds. New Christmas decorations would be near the top of the list of things to scratch if need be. Not having decorations says something about our priorities and situation. So, sensitive people might cut back on decorations this year, even if they have the means. Community displays, on the other hand, might be worth the effort in order to signify, “We think you might enjoy some color and fantasy in times like this.”
Have I missed anything?
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.