Christmas has an interesting effect on people. I’m not talking about how much more cheerful people are or a sudden love of holiday sweaters. The effect I’m talking about is how the season has a tendency to turn otherwise non-artistic people into full-blown artists.
All you have to do is walk outside and take a look around your own neighbourhood to see what I’m talking about. Now that you’ve got out and had a look outside, you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s kind of hard to miss, especially as you cruise around the streets of Summerland doing whatever errands keep you busy. I’m talking about the light displays that spring up all over not just Summerland, but most of North America this time of year like little green vines covered with glowing berries.
You might not think of something like this as an artistic endeavour—and that’s fine, art is a very subjective thing—but to me, there’s no denying the talent and thought that is required to put some of these displays together.
It takes a certain kind of eye to look at several hundred light bulbs of varying colours and to be able to pair them with another several hundred light bulbs of a different set of varying colours and then deciding what the best way to arrange all of that around a garage, two sets of shrubs and the front windows of your house. It’s no different than staring at a blank canvas, looking down at some of the colours you have to paint with and turning it all into a landscape painting or a duck or something to that nature. It’s just painting with light instead of paint.
I mention this because I love seeing the somewhat hidden talents of people on display at this time of year—I love hidden talents at any time of year, really, but they’re more often on display at Christmas. It’s incredible to see what people come up with especially, when you think about it, considering that everybody is essentially digging around in the same tool box to put together their creations. That there can be so much variety from all those strands of lights says a lot about the different ways people view, celebrate and interpret the holiday season.
The best part about all of this is that all these displays are put out for all the world to see and there are probably as many people who have formed traditions around viewing these temporary displays of art as there are those whose traditions involve creating them. I know I’ve certainly altered some usual routes a little bit in the last few weeks to check out these displays and I encourage everyone who hasn’t yet taken the time to see them, to get out and just have a look at what Summerland is creating these days.
Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.