Let’s be honest, it ain’t exactly Rockefeller Center.
Even after they add and fire up the lights, the Christmas tree set up in Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square will be a dim cousin to the spectacular conifer that graces one of Manhattan’s most iconic venues. And while the center city fir is routinely one of the largest such displays in our area, it is a runt compared to the granddaddy that graces New York, New York.
And if you are grumbling that it’s too (insert favorite cuss word here) early for a Christmas tree to dominate any locale, well, you’re right. You are also living in an olden age of distinct holidays, when Halloween absolutely had to be over before any Turkey Day talk, and the absolute earliest anyone should mention Dec. 25 was at the very end of a Thanksgiving Day parade, and then only in brief hushes as maybe a Santa Clause sleigh rolled by.
But that age, is like oil lamps and wheelwrights, a quaint memory preserved in small enclaves and wistful memories. We live in the era of blurred holiday borders. And frankly, getting crotchety over it all may help satisfy the purist in us all, but it also risks depriving us of the joy of said holidays lasting a little longer. And is that really so bad?
So a tree rises in Public Square, and Christmas-themed art gets painted on downtown store windows, and sales displays sport reindeer and sparkling balls and bells, and green wreaths grace windows and doorways — all of it emerging weeks before the carving of the turkey.
If we have lost the battle to keep our holidays distinct, it’s not so hard to accept. There are things we could lose that would be much, much harder to live without.
But every Christmas the question can creep in: Is our seasonal decor as good as it could be? Are we merely doing a serviceable job, when a little extra effort could draw more people to our locale?
Do we suffer from tree envy?
It’s not a moot question. Clever, compelling or distinctive decoration can make a downtown a destination point. Millions go to Rockefeller Center just to bask in the glory of the magnificent tree.
Closer to home, Berwick’s Christmas Boulevard creates long lines of leisure drivers trying to catch every nuance or favorite cartoon character in the displays.
Jim Thorpe can look positively Dickensian, in the best sense. Not grimy orphans-eating-gruel Dickens, but Scrooge-waking-up-gleeful Dickens.
You can “bah, humbug” the early onset of yule time if you must; it’s your right, and there is some right in the criticism.
And pooh-pooh the provincialism of our many municipal decorative efforts if you feel they don’t go far enough (or go too far). No one is likely to mistake Public Square for any major metropolitan Christmas Plaza.
But consider the alternative. Enjoy the extended season of upbeat sentiments, and smile at the colorful lights and holiday accoutrements in places like the county courthouse rotunda and the diamond in Wilkes-Barre’s Square. It is local spirit rising, and that’s a good thing.