This week, as people festoon their houses, lawns and embarrassed household pets and semi-immobile grandparents, we've been taking in and enjoying all the glorious decorations that are so truly unique to America.
While you might occasionally see an understated string of lights around a bush in the front garden of a British home, or a desultory Santa Claus taped to the front door, you'd never see individual homes lit up with enough lights and animatronic displays of holiday cheer to plunge a single family into violation of the Kyoto protocols on energy reduction.
I love this country.
(*actually, after writing that, I found these two articles about crazy Brits and their light displays. One of which included Homer Simpson. How's that for cross-Atlantic contamination? All I can say is that we never saw anything resembling this up Cheshire way, more's the pity...)
On our way through Concord, we passed (at least) one church with a nativity scene up, lit up with klieg tungsten-halogen arc flood lamps to make sure that the manger scene is burned into the retinas of anyone passing within a square mile.
The Critter piped up from the back seat, fascinated with the diorama glistening in holy plastic. "Hey! There were camels and sheep there!"
"And a king! He had a big crown!"
"And baby Jesus! He was as big as a baby bear!"
Baby bear? Mind you, her own baby brother was sitting less than 18 inches away from her, and "baby bear-Jesus" is the first analogy that popped into her head? Did I miss the bared teeth and coarse fur poking out of the manger? Did the king with the myrrh pull back a bloody stub where his hand used to be after offering his token of esteem?
I swear we've had her in Sunday school since getting back to the US. Maybe we should be checking the curriculum a little closer.
Before we have to explain to her that the 4 gospels were not, in fact, written by Fozzie, Yogi, Boo-boo and Gentle Ben.