Ruby Bayan is a freelance writer who likes to share her simple joys.

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Christmas Lights -- the Brighter, the Merrier!
by Ruby Bayan

Christmas LightsI would like to invite the gentleman who wrote the "My Word" column Sunday, stating that the tacky Christmas lights in Florida are a turnoff, to a holiday spree in Singapore. The island is so lit up you would swear you could hear the lights blink.

This is my first time to spend this festive season in Florida. Asia had been my home for more than 40 years. In Asia, there's no winter to signal the start of Christmas shopping, no chimneys for Santa to slide through. Snowmen are paper cutouts propped up in store windows, and Christmas trees are plastic replicas with easy-to-assemble instructions. Pine scent comes in aerosol cans and what's a mistletoe? And the only real "dashing through" is when you need to wake up early to beat the holiday traffic.

But Christmastime in the land of palm trees, mangoes, and 100% humidity, is as joyful and meaningful as anywhere else in the world. Generous gift-giving, tearful family reunions, riotous parties, and charming home decorations remind everyone of the true spirit of the season. And in a place where nature doesn't do much to contribute to the holiday mood, the people become truly creative -- yes, with lights, with millions of blinking rainbow lights. From 50-watt bulbs hanging like luminescent fruits from acacia trees to masses of twinklers shaped like glow-in-the-dark reindeer frolicking on the front yard, these lights become veritable beacons visible a couple of miles away.

This year I'm in Florida. Christmas Eve is just a few nights away. Anyone who's celebrating it at all must have put up all his or her decorations by now. And as I look around the malls, the office buildings and the residential areas, I think to myself, "They're not too hot about Christmas here". Sure, the decorations are beautiful and you would think some resident probably got a killer discount with the dense blinkers he had put up in his apartment porch, but, is that it?

Some have twirled lights all around the palm-tree trunks. What about the leaves? It would be spectacular if they lit up the leaves, too. And regarding the colorful bulbs that seem haplessly strewn in the hedges by six monkeys, the decorators should have gotten more monkeys for a totally dazzling effect. How come nobody spruced up the lampposts? And the lawns?

Come on, the brighter, the merrier! It's Christmas!

So are we compensating for the absence of snow in Florida?

Of course, we are. In a most glistening, most kaleidoscopic sort of way. Those who absolutely need to have a white Christmas should go visit folks up north. Those of us happy to spend the yuletide season where the climate is far from being a winter wonderland, will be more than delighted to help Santa untangle his sleigh from the crisscrossing strands of blinking lights.

Merry Christmas, Floridians!

Ruby Gagelonia is a freelance writer in Orlando.

Published in the "My Word" column of the The Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 22, 1998.

Christmas lights

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