Christmas in New England, Christmas in The Woodlands

Insert appropriate apologies for the lack of posting here. I've been working up a larger post on television for a bit, but I haven't bothered to go ahead and finish it off yet. It's long, so it's taking a while. I'll try to throw together some shorter posts in the meantime.

I've spent the past two weeks at home, vegging out, sleeping in, seeing old friends, and meeting my niece, the cutest baby ever made. I took some pictures, I'll post one at the end here. It's been a peaceful, lazy-sunday sort of vacation, and exactly what I needed - as soon as I get back, I hit the Christmas rush again. Outside of Best Buy, nobody gets hit with the Christmas rush like a megachurch, and I have a nasty suspicion I'm going to get a phone call two hours after my plane lands saying "can you come in right now?" I'm placing 3-to-1 odds on this if you want to get in on it. 2-to-1 on my saying no.

That being said, I adore the Christmas nonsense our town (and yes, our church) has every year, with musicals and kids' shows and garish decorations and flocks of sheep and herds of camels (we have a Christmas petting zoo/cultural exibit/camel ride station at our church. Really.) and other idiosyncracies too numerous to recount. The bombast of Christmas as a spectacle appeals deeply to me. People in the area know that it's silly and frivolous and enjoy it anyway, whereas I enjoy it because it's sillier than even they know. Growing up in megachurch culture desensitizes you to it, but the spectacle of all of this seems all the sillier in comparison to New England restraint.

I went downtown the other night with my mum in order to see the tree-lighting ceremony in the town square, which was named the Christmas Stroll or something similarly sedate. There was a countdown yelled into a cheap audio system, followed by scattered applause as about thirty-seven little bulbs lit up on the big tree. A girl scout troop sang some carols, someone had brought down a horse-and-cart and was giving out hay rides, and Mum and I helped ourselves to some free hot chocolate. Then we wandered home.

To be brief, in The Woodlands, the tree-lighting ceremony (one of three separate lighting ceremonies that they hold) involved a gigantic fake tree built on a steel frame, a little girl hitting a button that sets off the lighting display, a bevy of fireworks, and massive pyrotechnics. And that's the smaller lighting that fewer people go to. In fact, there might have been much more than that going on. I only happened to know about the pyrotechnics from wandering by as a crew of workers set everything up. I didn't stop to ask questions because, hey, that's a day in The Woodlands. For all I know, they could've sacrificed a panda to St. Nicholas that night. If anyone's up for gambling, I might even give odds on that.

So to finally reach my point: I'm excited to go back. There's bound to be chaos and spectacle every night of the week, and I promise you at least one story from the Christmas musical this year. It's destined to be memorable.

It's going to snow tonight, my last chance to see it again before I leave. Can't wait.

Alright, just as I promised you, here's that pic: