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The Hanging Santa


  Christmas tradition is important in our household and each year we attempt to drive around town to see the holiday lights.  I often fail at doing this in a timely manner and on New Year's Eve, the last night of the local park's "Tour of Lights", my children and I are known to fly into the park, right at closing time, in one final attempt to capture a look at the elaborate light displays. As we are driving past, in a last minute holiday panic, the lights are going out and stakes are being pulled up as it is long past time to go home.  I feel successful if I can stay just two or three lights ahead of the crew breaking down the holiday display.  In my rush, I always forget about the volunteer at the end of the tunnel of lights who is waiting with a festive bucket, in hand, to collect donations to support this attraction.  It never fails that there are no one dollar bills in my purse and I'm forced to decide between a twenty dollar bill, a box of Altoids, or a prescription for some pain killer that I never filled.   While I personally would prefer the latter, I reluctantly hand over my twenty dollar bill and drive out of the impending darkness that is quickly closing in on us.  

  The Christmas display, however, that my children and I love the best is the Hanging Santa in a very upscale neighborhood.  It is a marker of the holiday and Christmas would not be complete without it.  In a beautiful two story home, the owners have proudly displayed a life-size Santa Claus in their upstairs window.  The problem is the fact that Santa's head is cocked over to the side and if you are positioned just right on the street below, a light fixture behind Santa creates the illusion of something rising up from his head, or possibly neck, creating a disturbing image of a hanging icon.  But because we have a twisted sense of humor and we know this is not intentional, we love the Hanging Santa and look forward to his arrival every year.  I do hope they don't ever forget to display him at Christmas.  It's better than the "Tour of Lights" and brings smiles to everyone in my vehicle and those hanging out of the sunroof, trying to capture photos of this jolly elf.  

  The grand prize for holiday decorations, however, goes to a small tattered home off the main highway.  It sits in the middle of a row of forgotten houses, some condemned and some simply still trying to provide refuge to any family that lands on its doorstep.  A strand of garland has been draped over a chain link fence and a string of lights lays across the front steps.  A cardboard nativity scene has been placed in the back yard clearly telling all that this family still believes in a higher power when material goods are few and far between here and blessings may be harder to understand.   It just goes to show you that joy can be found in the most unlikely of places.  Sometimes, you have to simply open your eyes and look for it.   While the path to happiness is not always marked with a string of lights or flashing arrows, the path is there and some times we all need to set down our burdens for a minute and enjoy the view.  




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