Google Maps gave me driving directions around the worst of my evening commute tonight that inspired this blog post. While I have made prior references to driving through San Diego at rush hour, it is pointless to meander along that sordid topic – it is only going to get worse and not better. However, I can use the time to make some observations about some of my fellow Southern Californians.
Driving through an obviously middle class neighborhood in suburban San Diego this late afternoon, two weeks prior to the Christmas holiday, I was intrigued that no more than perhaps one in forty homes displayed Christmas decorations or lights of any kind. This was not a section of the city that appeared bound by any homeowners association prohibition, nor a singularly Muslim area or commune of Ascetic monks, It was a single-family style, $600, 000-average price neighborhood (for California, a little more than the median price for 2017.)
I am not denigrating anyone for NOT displaying Christmas decorations, and I in no way attribute Santa Claus, decorated trees, inflatable Minion or Harley-riding Santa Claus to the Birth of Jesus. But I find it very “unusual”. For a nation that spends a lot on holiday cheer regardless of their spiritual aspirations, (a retail survey calculated that Americans spent $3.2 Billion on decorations, lights, trees and so forth in 2015) I found it unusual. In neighborhoods that become a festive attraction for the surrounding communities, band saws in garages start going in September, and decorations start being put up on the Black Friday shopping day. I thought I would look up the relationship between decorations and personality. One article was particularly interesting in perceptions. An experiment was conducted on observers perceptions using pictures of groups of more socially-engaged neighbors, not socially-engaged (keep-to-themselves sort), each with decorated and not-decorated homes. People who were generally unable to distinguish between social traits for decorated homes, could generally determine the level of social interaction of people with non-decorated homes. People can tell what you are like by the stuff in your environment.
Next post, I may discuss why some late-middle-age men like to tootle around town in a fire-engine red, convertible Porsche Carrera, and why some young people driving Civics, or BMW 3-series, or a 3-cylinder Prius, feel the need to be the most ignorant drivers on the road.