Richmond goes all out with Christmas lights. Someone compiles the most extravagant displays online as the Tacky Light Tour . Those who deck their lawns like this willingly submit their homes to tour buses of twenty-somethings who have had a little too much to drink and caravans of young families. I went Saturday night with three friends (sober) expecting pretty lights. Little did I know I would also see hot chocolate stands, side-of-the-road Grinches, and donation boxes for charitable causes.
One display–a collaboration between neighbors–featured a scavenger hunt. You could find not one, but two, E.T.s, an ostrich, even a SpongeBob. One house had filled a sunroom with dozens of animatronic dolls. I looked at a grey cat wandering through the lanes of glow-in-the-dark gas pumps and multi-ethnic manger scenes and wondered what the whole thing looked like from his perspective.
Something about seeing a smorgasbord of utilitarian and commercial objects spread across a snowy lawn, with little regard for scale or significance, rewarded further looking. I never knew what to expect next. This is postmodernism: Everything is lit. The homeowners could comfortably place menorahs, Irish pride signs, and statues of Mary next to a flock of light-up flamingos. I love how the postmodern attitude puts different cultural backgrounds on a more even playing field. When I see a statue of Santa robbing the manger, though, I wonder: what does it look like to hold a love for created things loosely while recognizing that Jesus is especially worthy to be lit?