The second letter: our Christmas dystopia

This letter wasn’t sent to me, but was so horrifying I had to include it. How do you feel about the Christmas police?

Someone in Haddonfield, NJ has appointed themselves the keeper of Christmas traditions, which consist entirely of flashy, elaborate displays of Christmas lights around your home. I don’t know what an “S & V panel” is, but it sounds like a vigilante HOA roaming about a neighborhood deciding whose exhibition of forced jollity is adequate.

I knew a bit about Haddonfield from years gone by. Aren’t there Jewish families living there? And atheists? And Christians who don’t go for the showy stuff but, like Linus, are sure they know the True Meaning of Christmas?

I give fair warning to any Christmas evangelists roaming around Minnesota: I had no Christmas displays up, and if you come around with a letter like that, I’m putting up my spider-based Halloween decorations instead.


  1. hemidactylus says

    This sort of neighborhood social pressure was a subtheme for John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas. The Kranks decided not to put a Frosty the Snowman with a lightbulb in its rectum on their roof. The neighborhood ward-boss got wind of their defection and fought back with armies of carolers, protest signs, etc. The Kranks’ opt-out threatened the neighborhood’s lockstep cohesion necessary to win an annual contest with other streets. There were no overt religious undertones as the purpose was entirely secular. Luther Krank himself had lamented all the seasonal commotion of decorating, shopping, and going into debt had nothing to do with Jesus’ birth though that may have been a rationalization concocted deep within his middling accountant’s brain.

    I don’t mind seeing pretty lights and reindeer, but it should be an option and not an obligation. We are kinda socially engineered into this stuff and many or most of us take such traditions for granted, as what it always was and will be into the future. Things get escalated by neighborly contests and resulting tit-for-tat oneupmanship (sorry for lack of better term).

    Luther felt he would get his due revenge indirectly when his neighbors got their bills in the mail punishing their extravagance. He viewed his choice as opportunity cost as his alternative course, taking a cruise, was half as pricey and far less stressful (or so he thought). The entire book was set within a blinkered white middle class neoliberal frame.

  2. says

    Someone in Haddonfield, NJ has appointed themselves the keeper of Christmas traditions, which consist entirely of flashy, elaborate displays of Christmas lights around your home.

    Hmm, so during Christmas people are obliged to waste electricity and generate even more light pollution that usually?

    Oh well, I guess I won’t be celebrating Christmas then.

  3. davidc1 says

    Outside xmas lights is another horror you Amurians have pushed on to us British ,honest to Betsy you get in a little war with someone and they never forget it. America is a nation of sore winners .

  4. Artor says

    I love my lights, but someone needs to loudly and publicly invite that letter writer to eat a bag of dicks.

  5. blf says

    Speaking of outdoor lights: The village council puts up some overhead “festive” lights each year (non-religious), usually strung between (lamp-)posts on opposite sides of the street. The esplanade by the old port was rebuilt last year. Which wound up presenting a problem for this year’s lights: The lamp-posts on now only on one side of the street (and seem to be less light-polluting?). Ooops… How are the lights to be installed this year? (They erected some temporary poles, but I suspect this is an “oh merde, no-one thought of this!” solutionquick-“fix”.

  6. says

    Someone in Haddonfield, NJ has appointed themselves the keeper of Christmas traditions, which consist entirely of flashy, elaborate displays of Christmas lights around your home.

    That’s not entirely how I read it. How I read it is they want specifically “classy” lights, but NOT “fake and lazy” lights, which they include as projectors and light shows. It reads to me they want the more “traditional” lights one runs around their house, but not the newer technology of this millenium, which might consist of the “flashy” stuff. Oh, and I’m going to guess those lights one runs along their house had better not be LED!

  7. Alt-X says

    I like the rule, If you use more than three exclamation marks on a word, you’re insane. Seems to be holding up.

  8. killyosaur says

    @christoph, you talking about the comic or the serial killer? Michael Meyers of Halloween fame is from Haddonfield, Illinois, which doesn’t exist as far as I know.

  9. killyosaur says

    The only thing I know about Haddonfield, NJ is that it is Dry, and the host of Whiskycast lives there :P

  10. wzrd1 says

    After the first letter, I’d be tempted to let my impish side run free, but likely not bother.
    After the second letter, a bunker would be placed in the yard, with simulated casualties on the lawn and a mannequin in military uniform in a firing position at the bunker of “sandbags” and if I’m especially irritated, a very real firearm in the mannequin’s hands – suitably sabotaged and alarmed.

    Or, do it in a Christmas theme, Santa’s sleigh near the driveway, an eviscerated corpse along its obvious previous travel path – Santa ran over a neighbor!

    Third option, two demons kneeling around a manger, with an imp within it and three of the nastiest demon figures imaginable presenting gifts of human ears, hands and heads.

    Get another letter, next year’s display would be a scale model of the local sewage treatment plant – complete with real excrement and urine being treated and composted.
    By then, I’d have set ZoneMinder up to record alarm events and have the SOB’s image, when delivering the letter.
    Then that sewage treatment plant would be in their front yard, with extra flashy lights, just to make them feel better when seeing composting shit well lit.**

    Believe it or not, I’m actually a very good neighbor. I just have a very low tolerance for fools and pricks.
    A good enough of a neighbor, I’d probably record that letter being delivered, along with the license plates on the idiot’s vehicle.
    Topped with freshly made pasta e fagioli and homemade bread, although for vegetarians, I’d have to make my lentil soup. Shit! Just realized, I have to order some sumac, it totally makes the lentil soup.
    I just put that onto tomorrow’s to-do list. Along with a note to order a bunch of sandbags.*

    *Sandbags have multiple uses, from being a bag to hold sand for a barrier, through holding plumbing supplies or even covering the unsightly mess when one causes a Jehovah Witness’ head explode.

    **Yes, I really am that vindictive, when aroused. Fortunately, I’m not so trivially irritated.
    So, more likely, have a mannequin of a service member in a sandbagged position sleeping, Santa watching and a fine example of a service member’s Christmas poem.
    At least they did better due diligence as to originated the poem.