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A Very Pop Culture Christmas

December 3rd, 2004

Last night, we finally got our Christmas tree set up. Vic would just as soon do without the hassle of decorating for the holiday, though she seems to enjoy the display once it’s done. As for me, it’s one area in which I’m not willing to compromise.

The funny thing is that this year I didn’t decorate at all for Halloween, a holiday I actually prefer to the Yuletide. In that case, my usual zeal for turning my front yard into a graveyard was dampened two years ago when some of my decorations were stolen, and even more so last year when we only got a handful of trick-or-treaters. This Halloween, the kid count was a good bit higher, but it was too late and I felt that I’d let myself down. Therefore, Christmas is where I draw the line. I want a big (artificial) tree in my living room, no matter how much of a pain in the ass it is to set up.

Of course, my desire for a decorated Christmas is even more ironic given that I consider myself agnostic. I acknowledge that Christmas is ostensibly about Christ, and I wouldn’t object to setting up a manger scene if I had one, but you’d be hard-pressed to find “the reason for the season” in my living room. He might be in there somewhere, but he’d be hard to find amidst the secular trappings.

It amazes even me just how much of my Christmas holiday is built around the accumulated pop culture of the last century. In addition to the various Santas and the army of snowmen, our display includes a wide variety of characters from the Rankin-Bass animated TV specials, including Rudolph, Herbie the Elf Dentist, the Bumble, Fred Astaire, the Winter Warlock and the Heat and Cold Misers.

Add to that several Grinches; Charlie Brown and Snoopy; and, in the window, a small version of the “leg lamp” from that modern film classic A Christmas Story. And we haven’t even come to the tree itself!

You see, about the time that Vic and I were first dating, Hallmark began in earnest to tap into boomers and their pop culture interests. She got me the very first–and arguably still the best–of their now-annual Star Trek starship ornaments, the original U.S.S. Enterprise with blinking red-and-green lights. Since then, I’ve added an entire fleet to the tree:

  • Galileo Shuttlecraft
  • U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-D
  • U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-E
  • U.S.S. Enterprise NX-01
  • Romulan Warbird
  • Klingon Bird of Prey
  • Borg Cube (“Enjoy your holidays. Resistance is futile.”)
  • Scorpion Shuttlecraft
  • Deep Space Nice
  • Runabout
  • U.S.S. Defiant
  • U.S.S. Voyager
  • Delta Flyer

Add to that the Death Star from Star Wars, and I’ve got the best-defended Christmas tree in Champaign-Urbana.

Amusingly, several of them feature voice clips which activate when the power first comes on. Whenever I plug in the tree, Capt. Janeway, Worf, the Borg and Emperor Palpatine all start shouting in an incoherent babble of warm holiday greetings and/or galactic warmongering.

As for the rest of the tree, here is an incomplete list of the other pop culture characters to be found:

  • Superheroes: Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and the Batmobile
  • Star Trek: Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Quark, Seven of Nine
  • Movies and TV shows: Princess Leia, (I Dream Of) Jeannie
  • Cartoon Characters: Scooby Doo, Snoopy, Lucy Van Pelt, The Grinch, Mickey Mouse, Tigger, Marvin the Martian and the Yellow Submarine
  • Other: The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile (nothing says Christmas like a hot dog-shaped car)

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas?

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