Holiday Spirit Still Sparkles

I showed up at Avogadro's Number for the Wednesday jam about ten o'clock. There were plenty of pickers already performing "Away in a Manger" so I walked to a booth in the back where Seymour Sharpe sat talking with Tanya Hide. She was holding a bow and a regular acoustic handsaw.

"Hey Tanya," I asked as I sat down. "What happened to your chainsaw? Carburetor problems?"

She shook her head. "It doesn't seem mellow enough for Christmas." She raised her bow and began playing "Greensleeves," although this time of year I guess the melody is more appropriately called "What Child Is This?"

"I know what you mean," I said as I pulled out my banjo. "Just seeing all the lights while driving in puts me in a different frame of mind." I checked the tuning quietly, trying not to intrude on her song which she played softly so as not to intrude on the jammers. Tanya just nodded, lost in the music.

Seymour blew the mood. "I can't believe you like that phenomenal waste of electricity."

"It's pretty," I said rather startled. "My favorites are the homes outlined in lights. They look like dream houses built out of colored stars." He glared so I agreed a little. "Of course, some of the stuff is wastefully garish: hundreds of strands of lights or a Santa sleigh and reindeer with a thousand watt nose on Rudolph.

"You sound like you're apologizing." Seymour sneered at me. "Oh wait, don't tell me. I'll bet you have lights on your house."

I smiled. "I have a very tasteful display. White lights around the playhouse and a few strings of colored ones along the eaves." The jammers stopped and Tanya's saw filled the room with a lonely sound, but Seymour couldn't appreciate it.

"How can anyone with your "simple living" tendencies justify participating in this yearly waste of energy?" he said a bit too loud causing everyone to look at us.

I was peeved. "I never much thought about it but I suppose I'd make the argument that any use of electricity is a waste. I mean, do we really NEED refrigerators or indoor lights?"

"Those things are useful, not arrogant displays of vanity."

I shrugged. "How about if I only have a refrigerator full of beer and after I've gotten good and blurry-eyed drunk, I need the lights to beat my kids more accurately? That's not a good use. Christmas lights are a more aesthetic extravagance."

"It's still a waste of resources."

"You're a waste of resources."

Tanya stopped playing abruptly. "Now boys," she said. "Calm down. I see the decorations as a gift. Each person is providing a wondrous light to all the passersby, brightening the dark night with a festive radiance, giving the glow of Christmas that provides peace and contentment."

"Wow, I didn't know you were such a poet," said Seymour.

She smiled at him. "The lights put me in the mood. Youse guys need to relax and enjoy the evening." She stood up and walked into the jam and started playing and singing "Star of Bethlehem."

Seymour shook his head. "Is that the same girl who threatened to saw your banjo in half if you ever played "Locomotive Breath" again when the train chugged down Mason Street?"

"Yeah, and she was in a good mood that night. Must be the magic of Christmas." I set the banjo back in its case. "Buy you a beer?" He nodded.

We walked into Avo's bar as all the pickers joined in on the final refrain: "Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem, shine on."