The bodies electric

 It Can't Happen Here
 Santa Claus waves to passing motorists.Santa Claus gives candy to children.Santa's front lawn

With only a few days to spare before their final appearance of the season, J. Michael Craig and I traveled to Pelzer this week to see The Light People … a family of Pelzerites who stand at the edge of their gaily-lit lawn dressed head-to-toe in 120-volt Chrismas tree lights. Orange extension cords trailing behind them, openly indifferent to the possibility of sudden, spectacular death, the Light People issue candy and greetings to passers-by. And they’re pleased to accept donations, thank you. Loose change mostly, dropped from car windows into the candy bucket. It takes a lot of electricity to do what they do and electricity costs money.

Nearby, we met a man dressed in a Santa suit who told us that he “and another guy” spend nine solid days each December decorating his front and back yards, as well as the roofs and exterior walls of his modest two-story home and outbuildings. That’s down from the four weeks he says it used to take him when he was still working and could attend to the decorations on only a part-time basis. Santa’s sleigh, parked behind him at the end of his drive, was a two-tiered utility cart laden with tubs of assorted sweets.

The Pelzer light show stretches several blocks from Santa Land to where the Light People live and cars move in slow procession along the narrow residential road that connects them. Some windows stay up. Others roll down. Candy goes out, coins come in. Strangers in cars shout “Merry Christmas” to strangers on foot.

As they were after my visit last year to the rather creepy Tiny Town display near Easley (Dec. 6, 2008 blog entry), my feelings about Pelzer’s contribution to the general welfare are mixed. It grates to equate such rampant garishness with good will toward anybody or anything except Wal-mart, but that does seem to be the sum of the parts. Good will. Yes, I take exception to most of the artistic choices they’ve made, but Santa Claus and The Light People and all the people inbetween have gone to extraordinary lengths to make us merry … and at some personal expense. We should be grateful. We should acknowledge. We should not, however, under any circumstances, respond in kind.

Light People video posted here.