There are things I don’t understand about Christmas, beginning with the Christmas tree. I know I’ve been on about this before, but really I do not understand this mind-boggling holiday tradition: chopping down a perfectly healthy (if perhaps force-grown) young conifer, bringing it into your home, decorating it with delicate glass ornaments and lights, then watching it die slowly, over a period of two or three weeks. I realize that this is a long-standing tradition, one whose origins may be traced back to Germany in the Middle Ages where trees were often decorated with apples to represent paradise in the story of Adam and Eve. Nice.
The tree’s auspicious and arguably divine inception notwithstanding, the modern Christmas tree is a colossal waste of money and effort. The most colossal waste of money and effort associated with Christmas, I would have argued – until last week. That’s when I saw, available for purchase, a kit that allows you to dress up your car like a reindeer.
I know, these things aren’t new, but until now it never occurred to me that these weren’t handmade by hard-core Michael’s enthusiasts, inventively and craftily figuring out how to attach hand-sewn brown felt faux antlers to the spines of discarded Canucks flags. They have got to be sharing tips and instructions on Facebook, I figured.
But no, these are just kits that you can pick up in any number of retail outlets. Wedge the antlers into the power-windows and slap the red sponge nose on your grille, and you’re good to go.
Buying one says a lot about you.
It might say: I am so overcome, so brimming with Christmas spirit, that it can no longer be contained to just the interior and exterior of my home, my front lawn, all plantings and my office cubical. I must also express my love for Christmas while I am driving.
It might say: These are amusing accessories that will put a smile on the faces of my fellow commuters, which would be lovely if it were true.
It might say: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is my children’s favourite Christmas story and I did it for them. Isn’t it fun?
Or it might say: Someone, for some incomprehensible reason, got this kit for me as a gift, and after enduring several rounds of questioning about its whereabouts, I felt compelled to install it.
It might also say: I am a hipster and my friends will appreciate the irony of this installed on my already ironic car, especially since I have also fashioned eyes from Pabst Blue Ribbon cans.
But you would be wrong.
No, buying and installing a car-to-reindeer kit says: I have totally and officially run out of inconceivably useless crap to spend money on this Christmas and, as such, was compelled to dress up my car like a reindeer.
I get the love-of-accessories thing when it comes to cars. And by “get it” I don’t mean I agree with it, but rather I know that it exists. How else could you explain $5,000 worth of spoilers and cowling on a 1996 Chevy Cavalier? Doesn’t make any sense.
Fuzzy dice, dingle balls, bobble-heads, all manner of bumper stickers – people love to decorate their cars. Even Trucksticles™ which I won’t get into here because, they are, as we say, “before the courts” in some jurisdictions.
So combining Christmas and car adornment is a natural. Let’s take two things that people are obsessive about and put them together.
Genius to be sure, but I’m surprised it hasn’t gone further.
Why not use electrical tape to make your windshield look like old-fashioned panes of glass, then spray each with fake snow so it looks wind-driven?
Or turn that vast expanse of modern dashboard into a cotton-ball winter wonderland with icing-covered graham-cracker houses and candy-cane fences?
Or cut an old phonebook into the shape of a bell, spray-paint it silver and hang it from your rearview mirror.
Are there not 12-volt Christmas lights that you can plug into the cigarette lighter?
Why not gift-wrap your entire car?
Seriously, there has to be more you can do. You need to try harder.
Maybe you just don’t love Christmas enough.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver.