A Dickensian Christmas, a white Christmas—we have them both.

“The Christmas House on Lexington Street” amazed us for 38 years.

Since 1978 the owner, Rita Giancola, had authorized and overseen the decorating, opening the house to the public for about a week prior to Christmas. Giancola died in August, 2016, but asked as a final wish that the house be decorated once more. That was a year ago: this year it lies dark.

In all that time Rita Giancola asked only one courtesy of people who wandered about inside the dazzling interior: that they contribute either a non-perishable food item or money to purchase turkeys and hams. Every year local charitable organizations benefited.

Most visitors only drove by—and the exterior was impressive—but it was inside where the splendor existed. You can see for yourself.

Years—decades before, when I was growing up there was a house “over by the college” that my parents—and I—thought was pretty impressive too. In fact we all have memories of similar holiday displays, but only now do they seem tied to charities—only now do they signal a country in need.

I’m not a historian, and this is not a history blog; furthermore, I could be completely wrong. (Is that enough stipulations?) But two generations ago, we seem to have had fewer hungry people. Remember, the adults in the 50s and 60s had endured the deprivation of the Great Depression and the dismal heartbreak of war. Maybe those who had survived such misery looked out for each more, even fought for societal programs that ensured all Americans of a future free of want.

Something happened between then and now, some shift in attitude so violent that our Congress—which ostensibly represents us—appears blithely unconcerned about adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt, but cannot come up with $10 billion to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) without holding the American people hostage and demanding cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

CHIP covers nine million children: more than 20% of them will lose their insurance next month. The upshot of that is not very mysterious: when kids don’t have health insurance, their parents skip needed medical care. Children will suffer; some will die—victims of a Republican Party with blinders and a Democratic Party without a backbone.

This is “It’s a Wonderful Life” without Clarence; “A Christmas Carol” without the ghosts, “Miracle on 34th Street” without that one-dollar bill. It’s the Christmas we bought for ourselves when we elected the defender of white supremacy, Donald Trump, to be our leader. And what’s in our stocking? The right to say Merry Christmas wherever and whenever we feel like it because that’s what white Christians say…while the other white Christians are busy removing all the reasons we would want to say it in the first place.

 

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

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