Each year, families across the U.S. drive through neighborhoods to admire the festive, extravagant, and sometimes tasteless lights adorning community homes. While this is considered a traditional aspect of the holiday among the majority of Americans, including those who do not celebrate the religious aspect of the season, some people are determined to address such displays as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge.
One such grouch lives in the same Newtown, Mass. community as a family dedicated to preserving a longstanding tradition of elaborate outdoor Christmas decorations. When the Hunter family checked their mail recently, they received a heartless greeting from one of their neighbors.
The author, who claimed to speak for the family’s “neighbors,” wrote that “we have held our peace in years past” but “have decided that we cannot let another holiday season go by without bringing a few things to your attention….”
From there, the letter becomes a strongly worded indictment of the family’s tradition, which was cemented after the death of one of its members.
According to the note, the neighborhood is occupied by a number of non-Christians who “do not wish to see such a flagrant display of your beliefs.”
While the Hunters – and virtually all other passersby – might view the decorations as “harmless fun,” the intolerant writer concludes they need to “realize that your beliefs are in direct contradiction with those of others.”
Of course, even conceding the point does not provide any basis for demanding the family remove the seasonal adornments placed on their private property. The author asks the Hunter family to “[i]magine how you would feel if you had to drive past an anti-Christian lawn display every day!”
That intellectually dishonest argument, however, is a nonstarter. Decorations affirming the family’s belief in the true meaning of Christmas are not belittling anyone else’s faith; so comparing it to “anti-Christian” propaganda is completely baseless.
The anonymous bully does not limit the criticism to an argument of faith, however. The letter calls the decorations “beyond tasteless.”
Kelly and Kristen Hunter, daughters of the deceased William, said they receive overwhelmingly supportive comments regarding their yearly display.
“I don’t see the problem,” Kelly said. “You can be whatever you want to be and celebrate it. However, you want to be proud of what you are. We are not bashing anybody for being anything.”
The majority of the community seems to agree. A group of carolers plan to sing seasonal songs at the residence this weekend; and one neighbor said he and his family “love it.”
Rick Arnold conceded “I don’t have to do my house because everybody looks at their house.”
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo Credit: George Eastman House (Creative Commons)