In some cities, you feel like a number, lost in the crowd. In a smaller city or town you sometimes get to be involved as a volunteer, make people feel a little better, and see some interesting things.
Wilton Manors is a surprisingly "Small Town" at times. I had the pleasure of driving around the city this year this week looking at the neighbors houses. Or rather not specifically at the houses but the holiday decorations. I did get to see about a half of the city, every single street of it, every single home in the western third of the city.
I didn't see too many homes of the sort you get to see when you are sitting there at your email and get spam from friends and family with the "Ditto" next door. On the other hand, some people are still decorating so I may still. There were some folks that had put up just the same as they did last year. There were ones where every light in the yard blinked in unison to some unheard piece of music coming out of a too small speaker stashed under a rock somewhere.
My personal favorites weren't the micromanaged and perfectly manicured homes that look manufactured and planned within an inch. I liked the oddball homes with quirky displays. The one that never fails to bring a smile to my face was the one that we all call "Inflat-o-land" because they put up this year about 25 inflatable figures of all sorts in a giant cluster, all on platforms. It looks silly, just like the idea of celebrating the birth of Jesus by burning fossil fuels to power electric lights is to me. So why not go outrageous? I know I'm the odd man out but there's something amusing about seeing Snoopy and the Red Baron 10 feet in the air, flying over a tropical hedge coming very close to Santa Claus.
Another one that I spotted was a complete riot of lights. There was absolutely no theme just more lights than you could possibly count in a small front yard. Lights on the palm tree trunks. Lights climbing the trees. Lights on the grass. The owner of the property was climbing the tree tying down more lights to the thing. It truly looked like a lighting store vomited all over the yard, in a gloriously garish and bright display.
I loved them both for their strangeness and incongruity and sheer expression of joy.
Austin Texas has a slogan on many a bumper sticker that says "Keep Austin Weird". Looking at these homes makes me think "Keep Christmas Weird!". It is an expression of individuality that always serves to please.