I live in a nice apartment complex in a once-bohemian suburb that is now a NY commuter enclave. Some of the old spirit still remains, though on cozy Church Street you will encounter old men driving their Lamborghinis at 5mph so you can see the wealth they’ve accumulated, and be assaulted by twin strollers as moms kamikaze their way to cut in line at your favorite diner. But it’s still nice to live there, and our building has a friendly community of artists, teachers, writers, child caregivers, psychologists, newspaper editors, office workers, a woman who runs a handmade clothing shop, construction workers, and so on. The building holds two parties a year, one in summer and another during the holidays. We have a pool, and community barbecue pits, and the management puts up a bouncy house for the kids. My friend Anie collected a bunch of planters and lets residents sign up to plant their own herb and flower gardens. It’s pretty cool. Not perfect, but I really like living here. And every year, Mary the building manager puts up holiday decorations in the lobby.
This year, that was too much for one anonymous resident, who took umbrage at how early the decorations went up. Never mind that Thanksgiving is a week later this year. This outrage called for that most gutless of protests, the anonymous public note:
I love the high drama the writer conjures. Spare us THE TORTURE. Now, I’m a bit of a Scrooge myself. I preferred when Christmas wasn’t mentioned until the turkey was fully digested. I worked retail for ten years in a neighborhood gift shop, and I can wrap presents faster than shit through a Christmas goose about to meet the chopping block. I can sing most carols including the Christmas version of Snoopy vs. the Red Baron by the Royal Guardsmen, because it has seeped into my very flesh. I’ve mopped up kid puke while Sinatra sang “O Tannenbaum.” Yet my spirit for the holiday season never falters, as the year dies and we gather to warm away the creeping sense of mortality, rekindling friendships and bonds that counter the chilling sadness brought on by the icy winds and dead branches.
I wish I’d included a photo of the decorations. They are confined to one corner of the lobby, but you see them when the elevator doors open. There is no music playing. The doormen are not humiliated into wearing Santa hats or saying “happy holidays” to everyone. I commiserate with the letter-writer, but find that we waste our energy on such petty things. We can’t look away from something as silly as this, but we can tolerate atrocity in our midst, when doing something about it requires more than an anonymous letter. I love that fellow residents came to Mary’s defense. I need to see what got blacked out. I’m sure it’s juicy.