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December 9, 2012 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Boxed in. Strung out.


No nice way to say it.

Sarah Bernhardt, N. Sarony. 1890 (US public domain. expired

The holiday season always brings it on.

Strung out.

Facing a darkness.

It’s all the pressure.

Sara Bernhardt by Nadar, 1820-1910 (US public domain. life of artist+100 yrs/

While the season electrifies some, it presents challenges to other.

Some are brighter than others.

There shouldn’t be any ruthless competition – but there always it.

It’s a human thing?

With all the concerns about bullying, how odd those who decide to sit it out are scorned.

Those who are hesitant to get high or wired.

Sigh. But there it is.

Sarah Bernhardt by Sarony, 1891 (Public domain:expired

A short trip was scheduled to see just how bad it was – and what actions would be necessary.

Like shadows, we slipped down streets –

Taking silent dog with sharp teeth along.

(She’ll jump and maul anything – even without command)

Sort of a cover story – people have to walk dogs, right?

Cover for the small camera set for night shots as well as the iPhone – just in case.


It’s the new stuff that’s available now: stronger – more intense.


Addictive, obviously.

Evidence was there right there.

Make it stop. Make it stop. The flashing. The flashing. Feeling so buzzed.

Make it stop. Make it stop. The flashing. The flashing. Feeling so buzzed.

Enough ultra blue eye-searing lights to summon Elvis. The dancing reindeer so jazzy, he couldn’t be blue.

Close by, swarms of nervous bee-size candy-colored twinklers whose owners haven’t quite figured out the on-off pacing.

Or are those are actually genetically altered radioactive hornets relocating for the winter?

Bugs me.

Just too jittery to live by.

One mystery was solved: all the Life Flight and Coast Guard helicopters looping overhead recently.

Enough LED searchlight-bright red and white bulbs down the block that it could be mistaken their landing pad.

All the kids are thrilled – it’s like summering in Alaska when the sun never sets.

Chastened, we slunked down the walks.

Past display after display

Even inflatable Santas and reindeer are more puffed up this year with voices, nods, and holiday waves. (Elaborate attempts to excuse their limp morning laundry reposes?)

Look, German. It's looking for you!

Homeward, we muttered. There’s a reputation to uphold.

I did earn a living doing Christmas Wonderlands.

Well, it was sort of a living, meager – but paid rent and the bills

And just how did we live without plastic? Was it living?

And just how did we live without plastic? Was it even living?

Each year I threaten to do an “Emperor’s New Clothes” thing

Toss a huge tangle of lights out on the lawn between the trees

It’s art!

Contemporary Christmas.


Auntie Mame would be proud.

Life was exciting with eccentric Auntie Mame! (Image: 2002 Auntie Mame DVD cover. Amazon.com_

Life was exciting with eccentric Auntie Mame! (Image: 2002 Auntie Mame DVD cover. Amazon.com_

But not this year.

Can’t embarrass the kid.

Who wants a “Perfect Christmas” this year.

For enchanting memories.

Already the giant glorious tree decked in heritage ornaments is to be replaced with a medium-size one high on a table dressed with low-value ornaments the dog is already eyeing.

About those memories….no doubt they will be special.

How did we live before plastic? Was that even living?

I’m gonna do it. I swear. I gonna do it.

So scheduled blog time shoved over.

Tangled for real in electric efforts.

Worse, even when that’s done – there’s still potential of seasonal peril.

Bound to get carded!

(Can’t stamp that out.)

Plugged into the season’s warmth (What’s a scorched finger or two?)

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Related Christmas posts: 

“Best Job Ever: August’s Christmas” Who knew Christmas was a career choice?

“A German Waits for Christmas.” Part of the German Shepherd Saga. What is it about kneeling Santa?

“Christmas Decorations Bounce and Rebound. Delighted” Inflatables invade the neighborhood, 2010

“Christmas Lights Whacked by Rabbit”

Painting by Egg, 1862 (US public domain. life of author+ 100 yrs.

Exhausted thinking about it.


  1. Eagle-Eyed Editor / Dec 9 2012 6:05 pm

    I love your use of older images to make your points. Perfect.

    Yep, the whole Christmas thing gets out of control sometimes. The key, I think, is to take a little break, sit down, put one’s feet and just enjoy the beauty.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2012 8:21 pm

      Christmas is great – but it also amuses me greatly.
      I used to have all the shopping done before Halloween so there was more stress-free time to enjoy it. (Internet shopping makes that deadline slid a bit now). Hey, which Christmas song would you like…I’ve records, tapes, CDs, downloads..Yeah working Display with Christmas starting in August was perfect.
      Thanks for caroling along.


  2. JackieP / Dec 9 2012 6:08 pm

    Yeah, I’m exhausted and I haven’t done a thing yet. I always enjoy reading your posts. 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2012 8:25 pm

      It would greatly help if it wasn’t 80 degrees…the yard plants keep growing and I had to do massive trimming of hedges and general yard clean-up first…at least the grass is mowed every other week now. Promising front coming in tonight. Hoping for merry for you. Thanks for wrapping up a comment to deliver here!


      • JackieP / Dec 9 2012 9:16 pm

        It’s about 15F here right now. So all ready to get merry. Should be getting a bit more snow for Santa soon. Have a great Merry also!


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2012 3:39 pm

          Expecting frost tonight – and blustery cold winds today – Molly the dog is more than merry…manically it does seem more like Christmas!


  3. katecrimmins / Dec 9 2012 6:22 pm

    Our three cats are already fighting for the real estate under the Christmas tree. Location, location, location!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2012 8:29 pm

      Oh, the relocation of cat domains! Granny and Olde Tiger used to love to view the world from under the tree. (Still have some of their signature cat hairs I cannot for the life of me get off the felt Christmas tree skirt….guess it just adds heritage?) RC prefers a fluffy winter perch elevated on the couch: commanding a regal view…not sure if that will work this year.
      Let the merry making begin. Thanks for hanging a comment in the tree here


  4. RAB / Dec 9 2012 6:46 pm

    In the township where I grew up there were, by the ’70s, neighborhoods that could be located by the glow in the sky at Christmas time. I see by television shows over the past few years that this trend has mushroomed (hallucigenically!). Snow-global warming! (And I love your laundry image. Yes, those blow-up things, creepy as many seem at night, turn into laundry-on-the-lawn lumps by day. Looks as if someone’s been thrown out of the house!)


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2012 7:58 pm

      There’s a couple of subdivisions that work as holiday units: each street has a different holiday theme. Cars line up for hours (and miles along the side of the major road) to tour each year (maps furnished – all streets one way). Mandatory decorating and cooperation is in their deed restrictions/sales contracts. Displays are handed over to new owners when houses sell. Holiday decorating is serious to those guys….we did not buy there…but do know the unpublished entrances to get in and out quickly. We used to take out of town visitors – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Prestonwood Christmas…Griswolds would be jealous.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 9 2012 8:31 pm

      The German Shepherd who stayed with us hated the inflatables…can’t imagine what’s she’d do with the ones who sing and move heads and arms. She’d probably refuse to walk down the block.
      Thanks for gifting us with a visit


      • RAB / Dec 9 2012 9:17 pm

        As a German myself (well, German-American), I will stand in solidarity with The German on this one!


      • PiedType / Dec 10 2012 6:48 pm

        I hate them too. They look great for a few hours each evening, but like a bag of trash for the entire day. I say keep them inflated 24/7 or don’t used them at all.


  5. RAB / Dec 9 2012 6:47 pm

    God, can’t believe I can’t spell “hallucinogenically”! I’m a scandal to my generation!


  6. jmmcdowell / Dec 9 2012 11:24 pm

    When I was growing up, there was one house in the neighborhood that overdid, er, went all out with the decorations. It seemed special. Now, with entire neighborhoods competing to out-do one another, to me it becomes noise, not a representation of the meaning of the season. Each year, we seem to simplify the decorations—not elaborate on them. And I think I’m calmer and better tuned to the spirit of the holidays for it. 😉


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2012 3:42 pm

      We have been doing the same simplification thing for the past few years – but I do applaud those with little kids who make it magical without going into hyperdrive…kids need a bit of silent night, too. Thanks for plugging in a comment


  7. littlesundog / Dec 10 2012 1:47 am

    Bah humbug… I have never enjoyed the hype and ridiculousness of the holiday season. I keep to myself a lot and simply enjoy the winter season here in the backwoods, feeding the critters, and I think of warm days to come. I really enjoyed this post!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2012 3:44 pm

      There’s not much more magical than Christmas in the woods – spent a lot of childhoods there. Thanks for feeding the comments


  8. dogear6 / Dec 10 2012 1:47 am

    I’ve cut way back on my Christmas activities and it’s helped a lot. With not living by family no one notices anyhow.



    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:00 pm

      Ah, now you are lucky – you get to do just the stuff you want to do. Now that’s a really nice Christmas. Thanks for hanging a comment ornament here.


      • dogear6 / Dec 11 2012 2:49 pm

        Comment ornament – that’s a good one! I have to remember to use that.


  9. Madame Weebles / Dec 10 2012 1:48 am

    I too am not a fan of Christmas hoopla. It overwhelms the actual enjoyment of the holiday season, and invariably there’s one person in the family who ends up doing most of the “hoopla-ing” and either they’re too tired/busy to enjoy, or they’re force-feeding the hoopla to everyone else. So I agree.

    Also, Auntie Mame is one of my favorite movies!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:10 pm

      Yep – one person does most of it – and the others sit back and expect/enjoy it (and notice something didn’t get done…). Growing up, I, being the youngest and the only one not working, ended up doing the decorating, wrapping – and all but the cooking (which mom actually bought from cafeteria turkey package most of the time). It was fun and kept me busy. It got to be a habit. Then actually part of seasonal work on the job. But after a while, it would be nice if others helped – so parts have been left behind through out the years. Some years we went to other places, so not so much done here. This year, we are home and will have people over, so out comes some of it. I refuse to be frazzled. You gotta shake your heads at some of the frantic people rushing through the holidays – what fun is that?
      Now, Auntie Mame – there’s a role model? great show
      THanks for decorating the comments section


  10. gingerfightback / Dec 10 2012 7:50 am

    Was one of the images Sarah Bernhardt?


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2012 3:47 pm

      Gold star! They all are. One of my favorites. Thanks for wrapping up that observation


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 2:45 pm

      Thanks for your comment – there should be “invisible” tags on each illustration which shows info about it/public domain/source – but these aren’t showing up as you roll across them – will have to check into that ( ever since WP changed the way media was added, I fear) Thanks again


  11. EllaDee / Dec 10 2012 9:33 am

    I miss having furry-ones and their take on Christmas. Mine weren’t so fussed on the tree & decorations but loved the visitors, attention & food. I have to admit to buying a kitty fishing pole gift for our neighbour’s cat who visits us, and I’m sure he’ll get his share of foodie treats 🙂
    Despite a lot of [justified] moaning about increased electricity prices, there’s been no reduction in sales or appearance of Christmas lights and display paraphenalia… My Christmas decorating is very low key but even I indulged in 2 impulse buy sets of solar power multi-colour lanterns at the hardware buying a [not Christmas gift] blower-vac for the G.O., who has rolls of rope lights in the quest for neighbourhood Christmas light dominance… but all they do is make our house look like a truck-stop 😉
    I did all my Christmas shopping, mostly online, before the end of Nov, due to pre-Christmas commitments… and was all set to enjoy the festive season until I went to my usual shopping centre for groceries… not going back again until New Year… we’re eating out of the fridge & pantry, and takeaway… the experience was quite traumatic.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:19 pm

      The fur children do find all the celebrations intriguing. RC used to climb the tree. She has particular fondness for the wooly lamb from NZ my parents brought back for my Nativity scene. She sneaks in, crosses the piano and carries it off …we started leaving the keyboard open to let us know when she hopped up for the lambnapping…it is very soft and may be close enough to mousies?
      Solar powered lights – cool! Those rope lights are winding their way into use around the neighborhood. The new high intensity bulbs/ LED lights are just so bright and colors so intense…blues and purples so strong.
      I’m staying out of stores, too. Early online buying certainly reduced that stress. Now we have time to calmly do stuff at leisure.
      Thanks for lighting up the comments section!


  12. The Hook / Dec 10 2012 1:06 pm

    This was brilliant! I’ve said this before, but you stand alone – and it shows!
    Great work. A holiday classic!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:21 pm

      Hmmm. Do you guys love or hate the holiday movies about Christmas at hotels? Holiday Inn (the old BW full length version) is one of my favorites. Thanks for decorating the comments section!


  13. Snoring Dog Studio / Dec 10 2012 1:11 pm

    I’m okay with the crazy Christmas. Done once a year, it amuses and delights a lot of us. It’s for the children mostly but even some adults love it. Many people don’t indulge for lots of reasons. But the decorating has been done for a hundred years or more – it is a tradition for many, many people. That technology has allowed for more outlandish displays is a fact of life. I live on a street that is so dark and seems almost abandoned. I’d welcome some colorful lights around me!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:29 pm

      I have always loved Christmas – but pace it carefully. It is magical and people (when not shopping/driving) are at least thinking about being nice and think about what is going on around them.
      Each year we like to walk around and see what the new decorating trends are – the younger families haven’t had time to accumulate stuff so they have the newest stuff….some really let the kids help and the yards are a total circus – how great!
      The past few years we’ve had to suddenly drive someplace for Christmas – nothing was warmer and more magical than driving down dark roads, then rounding the corner to be greeted by as few glowing lights on a house or gate.
      Hope someone on your street gets it in gear and puts up some lights! Thanks for lighting up the comment section


  14. aFrankAngle / Dec 10 2012 3:05 pm

    Gotta appreciate nice lights, holiday gatherings, and the music. Oh … your use of the old pics reminded me of one of my Christmas favs from long ago … The Homecoming …. The Waltons.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:33 pm

      Oh, the Waltons – when all the kids come back to visit? It’s bound to be on some channel this year? We love Christmas music…The Wee Sing Christmas cassette was the only way my daughter would go to sleep – all year – we went through 3 or 4 of those tapes. Thanks for jingling over


      • aFrankAngle / Dec 11 2012 2:36 pm

        I’m not sure if that was about all the kids returning to visit, because the kids were young then. Nonetheless, I recall it being a wonderful holiday story.

        Ha ha … Interestingly, you say “Thanks for jingling over” on a day I have a post about musical jingling.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:52 pm

          Bet the show had multiple Christmas shows considering how long it ran …will have to check on that…I do remember thinking the last one where John-boy is all grown up and comes home as a writer ( and with new bride, I think) wasn’t as good as when the kids were all younger on the show.
          How funny! I’m running behind, but heading over to check for bells in your blog was already on my list today! Jingle on!


          • aFrankAngle / Dec 11 2012 2:54 pm

            I think The Homecoming was a pilot/forerunner to the series.


  15. shoreacres / Dec 10 2012 3:11 pm

    I just can’t bah-humbug any of it. I’ve noticed far more lights around the apartment complex this year – I think with a lot of people feeling nervous about the new year, or taking a dark view of things, the light and color is a welcome relief.

    And the tree will go up tonight. I was going to do it yesterday, but then I realized (1) it would be cold today (how ’bout that frontal passage?!) and (2) I could listen to the Texans play New England while I sorted through the lights, since it’s a Monday night game. What’s not to like?

    I’ve even set out the bourbon-covered raisins to steep for a day. I guess tomorrow night will be cookie-making time!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 10 2012 4:46 pm

      Just wish I had more energy – maybe the winter weather will help. Need gloves and hat on dog walks now.
      The over-abundance of ultra bright lights and armies inflatables popping up this year are amazing and amusing – not all are houses with kids – Think you are right about the way people are feeling. It makes it fun to walk around at night. I’m glad people are in a decorating mood
      Sounds like you are right on schedule…and Monday night is a good plan
      Molly hasn’t pulled either tree down yet so maybe it’s time to try ornaments. (If something whacks her in the face, she tends to turn around and bite at it…bushes, small palm trees, pull chords for blinds…)
      Keep an eye on those raisins. Thanks for sorting out a comment to decorate the page here


  16. PiedType / Dec 10 2012 7:01 pm

    Gave up Christmas decorating about the time I gave up marriage. Too many years of too much stress, too much disagreement, too much money spent, too many unmet expectations, too much faux happiness and joy, too much commercialism, etc. ad nauseum. Always put on a show for the children, of course, so they’ll have wonderful childhood memories. And it’s fun and easy when it’s all at the son’s house, which I can leave behind when my meager supply of JOLLY! runs out.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:39 pm

      You have to pick and choose carefully at Christmas or it just gets too insane – and I refuse to get frazzled.
      I sometimes wonder if overdoing Christmas for kids doesn’t set them up for unreasonable expectations when they are adults..they just can’t ever seem to match the childhood experience?
      It’s nice to go to someone else’s house – less stress – and you do have the option to escape as needed. But this year it’s here. Sorry, no giant tree – the dog is fast and you can’t watch her every minute! She’d eat the coffee table given half a chance (this do was soooo not full grown like they thought)
      Thanks for hanging a comment ornament over here!


  17. Robin / Dec 10 2012 8:29 pm

    I’ll be decorating our tree this week, but I can’t help thinking life was so much easier when we had the Christmas Lava Lamp. No decorations needed because it has its own light and the dancing “lava” inside. All we had to do was arrange the presents around it. 😀 I think you should go for it — the Contemporary Christmas. See how long it takes to catch on.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:44 pm

      Lava Lamp, YES!….ours is red….if only the dog wouldn’t eat it (I am worried about the packages…Molly mauls stuff to hear the crinkling sound) Working on adaptable Christmas! Thanks for jingling along


  18. Ally Bean / Dec 10 2012 8:42 pm

    I’m not a big fan of decorating for Christmas. In our subdivision just about everyone does something to the outside of the house, but nothing coordinated by street. I’d never be able to be that cooperative with my neighbors. Around here, it is throw a couple of multi-color light nets on a few bushes– and call it job done. We’re a lazy, mellow lot, I guess.


  19. jannatwrites / Dec 11 2012 5:07 am

    I love to look at the lights, but we’ve never decorated the outside. It’s too much work! We barely got the stuff pulled out for the inside of the house. Our neighbors must feel the same way we do because out street remains dark; the scrooges of the neighborhood 🙂


  20. Kourtney Heintz / Dec 11 2012 5:08 am

    I love looking at other people’s lights. I’ll even donate canned goods. But we never string any on our house. Ladders and me don’t mesh well. 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 11 2012 2:48 pm

      One of my favorite things to do is walk/drive areas that have lots of decorations. I gave up ladders and roof peaks, too. Found these great thin metal spikes with a loop on the top for classic light bulb seats about 10 years ago. Just stab them in around the flowerbeds/drive/walk and done! Yes, I’m smug – especially watching all the ladder wobbles around. Thank for decorating the comments section


  21. Beth / Dec 12 2012 1:59 pm

    My Mom was definitely an apple, orange and nut kind of stocking filler. You’d also get a magazine (something like Tiger Beat when I was a kid). Whereas my step-mother was more of a “get the biggest stocking ever and that’s where small presents go, chocolate dipped pretzels – and things like underwear. Nothing like pulling out a wacky underwear in front of the whole family and then trying to quickly shove it under wrapping paper or back into the stocking.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2012 4:55 pm

      What a contrast there! Can identify with the shoving underwear under wrapping paper. (we were such ungrateful children). Hope there’s lots of merry around you! Thanks for decorating here with a comment



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