Ho Ho Holiday Tackiness

This year, December in Montreal has been distinctly green, with few flakes to be seen, especially not on the twenty-fifth day of the month. It wasn’t much of a surprise, then, when I came across a snowman who was absolutely devastated by the lack of snow.

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Montrealers have a particular fondness for tacky Christmas decorations: blinking lights, plastic raindeers, inflatable Santa Clauses that lord threateningly over the street from their third-floor perches. One evening I came across a reindeer doing things to a freakishly skinny Santa that are normally done behind closed doors. It’s like something you would find in a working-class suburb of Buffalo (or, at least, my own image of Buffalo, since I’ve never actually been there), except transplanted to a city where people have balconies, not front yards, which results in particularly dense and outrageous phantasmagoria.

The tacky holiday decorations even extend to Hanukkah: witness the menorah-mobile, which was parked on Park Avenue for all eight days.

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Holiday decorations in a forgotten corner of Verdun

The most excessive holiday decorations tend to be found in blue-collar neighbourhoods like Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and Verdun. Maybe it’s a way to compensate for the dreariness of the rest of the year; who knows. But I couldn’t help but think of these seasonal orgies when I read Raf Katigbak’s column in this week’s Mirror:

In the picturesque and well-manicured West Island neighbourhood of my youth, my house was probably the closest thing to living in a trailer park. While my sisters might argue that it was only because we were the last house on the street before a creepy dead end, I like to think it had something to do with the rusted car we had up on cinderblocks in our driveway, the squirrel that had made its home in our roof after tearing an entrance into our aluminum siding, and the fact that we had kept Christmas lights on all year round.

While I liked to explain to my high school friends that the reason for the latter, why my father kept half-burnt-out yellow, red and blue bulbs lit up on our maple tree all day, every day, for the entire year, was—as the fortune cookie suggested—“because he wanted to feel the Christmas spirit all year,” I knew in my heart that it was just plain old laziness. I tried to sell my father as “a fun-loving guy who just wanted to keep the party going,” but I knew my friends weren’t buying it.

And I don’t blame them. It wasn’t just the Christmas lights; there was a tattered plastic Santa on the roof, a sun-bleached plastic cutout Halloween witch in the window, a few deflated pink and blue “Happy Birthday” balloons from my brothers seventh birthday ribboned to the fire hydrant out front (he was 14 by then), and probably about half-a-dozen rotten Easter eggs lying undiscovered in the Boxwood bushes that surrounded our house. In the end, what could have been a cute little red and white split-level suburban home ended up looking like the discount decoration bin at Jean Coutu had been invaded by a family of Filipinos, and then exploded.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

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A Park Avenue snowman in happier, snowier times

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Where do they keep it the rest of the year?

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It is obvious that this display is a reenactment of a little-known James Bond film in which the evil Nutcracker and his Imposter Santa have emprisoned the real Santa Claus, along with his polar bear friend, in a glass bubble. Bond must save Santa and confront the Nutcracker but, to do so, he must first get past the penguin guards and their lethal oversized candy canes

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Monday December 25 2006at 07:12 pm , filed under Art and Design, Canada, Society and Culture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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