¡Feliz Navidad!

Christmas in Southern California is always a tricky thing. I want to feel the holiday spirit, but I just don’t think it quite gets cold and rainy enough for it to feel right. I shouldn’t be able to wear flip-flops to the grocery store in December, and yet…

I get the feeling our neighbors struggle with this, too. Whereas I let Christmas sneak up on me without the slightest thought, they’re much more proactive. The day after Thanksgiving, houses up and down the street started lighting up the night sky.

We live in a, shall we say, fairly Hispanic neighborhood. I was expecting quite a few nativity scenes. There are a couple, but they ended up being not as pervasive as I had assumed. However, they definitely don’t mess around when it comes to Christmas.

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You can’t see it in this picture, but this house has their lights on a seizure-inducing blinking pattern, but not in sync.

You might look at these and think, “Hey, that’s not all that impressive.” Back in the Northwest, it always seemed to me that people put a lot of planning and creativity into their lights, hanging them to complement the lines of their house and front yard.

Then you had the crazy synced-to-music yuletide monstrosities – I mean that in a complimentary way – that pop up on youtube this time of year.

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These folks have a four-seat merry-go-round that didn’t survive the rain.

On the surface ours may seem haphazard by comparison, and it is. Our neighbors’ approach seems to be to buy two of the biggest Christmas-themed ornaments they sell at RiteAid. Over time, you build up your collection until you’re able to play with the big boys.

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Candy-canes hung on the chain-link fence without care… (no really, they’re all facing the same way, except one.

There’s your usual collection of Santa in a plastic air bubble with ping-pong balls bouncing around as “snow.” There’s bowing light-up reindeer. Amateurs, that is so last year. One neighbor has an eight-foot-tall inflatable Frosty on his roof. Another has a four-place plastic merry-go-round large enough for children to ride.

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This guy has Rudolph hugging what is either a cactus, or Gumby.

You have to admit, the commitment to the cause is definitely at a similar level. These folks have covered every square foot of their yard with hokey Christmas decorations.

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Some of the most impressive attractions are no longer working, sadly. We’ve had rain the past few days, which I think few were prepared for, so many of those blow-up Santa snowglobes and elf merry-go-rounds have shorted out. Or maybe the overall RiteAid-ness won out, and the unwelcome guest – planned obsolescence – struck in the night. Either way, what remains is merely a subset of what our neighborhood had to offer.

Merry Christmas from Barrio Griswold.

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