Leo: A Christmas Story
by TB McGlone
I live in a small upstate town that borders Connecticut. With the shopping days of December breathing down our necks like the foreboding chill of a hyped-up Nor’easter, combined with the imagined obligation of our civic leaders to justify their collective suckling of the taxpayer teat, the town has recently taken to decorating the streets with columns of pint-sized Christmas trees. I have to think this is a not-so-subtle attempt to mirror what has been going on for decades in the neighboring, decidedly more “toney” town, just over the state line. One difference: our town fathers decided to stray from the classically simple, traditionally virginal white lights – like those adorning the evergreens of their Connecticut counterparts – in favor of crimson red. It was a bold choice, to be sure, and certainly sets us apart from those highbrow New Englanders. No cookie-cutter Rockwellian picture postcard for us. As you approach the center of town, the presentation is startlingly ominous, like the prelude to a nightmare. Turning onto Main Street, dozens of these sinister hell-trees, staked in front of darkened realty offices, shuttered campaign posts, and assorted pizza joints, herald the coming of something…something, yes, but exactly what? To me, the message screams gruesome tidings with just a dash of cherry flavoring. Our own brand of seasonal profligacy. The perverse bleeding even extends to the local elementary school, hemorrhaging with strings of those bloody red bulbs along the sidewalk out front. It feels downright ghoulish.
And this is where we educate our zombie children, the realtor gushes with pride.
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