Friday, December 13, 2013

Key West, The Freedom of Christmas Lights

It is said Cuba and Key West have strong historical ties, and it is true, yet over the past half century those ties have loosened somewhat, forced apart by the continuing embargo against free travel from the land of the free to the godless Communists, never mind vice versa. We are free to eat fast food drive large cars and have our phones tapped with less protest than Cubans struggle against their obvious indignities.

I think of that separation often, ironic as it is when we are forbidden to be free, and especially when I listen to Radio Rebelde (620am) and all their serious posturing at "round tables" when they talk about the issues of the day affecting Cuba. They tend to be as boring and unmemorable as the parrots of our free and soulless press. I went to see "Twelve Years a Slave" the true story, accurately told and rendered into a movie historians tell us, of a free black man tricked into slavery and who, able to read and write could tell in painful detail of his appalling captivity. The film highlighted for me the helplessness of one and all, everyone made less by slavery, slaves, owners, and above all the bystanders of good will, those we white people of the audience imagined ourselves to be. Watching Benedict Cumberbatch save Platt's life and then apologize for selling him to a brutal owner as no one else would pay the mortgage he owed on Platt's life, I knew that we all fall together under the wheels of brutality and inhumanity as society demands of us. Even today President Obama's many political shortcomings pale in the face of his unspoken shortcoming that affronts so many of his white opponents. I voted for him three times and though he has not delivered on his promises, which politician does? I am glad I was one among millions that put a black man in the white man's house for the first time. It annoys the shit out of his enemies who are without doubt less likely to do good by commission than President Obama will do ill by omission.

Cuba was deprived of Christmas for almost three decades on the spurious grounds that the holiday interfered with the sugar harvest. Our political friends in Saudi Arabia absolutely forbid any Christmas displays, but our enemy the godless Cubans now get to celebrate the almost universal holiday. Not as extravagantly as we do:

The home above in New Town was facing a portion of flooded street, giving it the appearance of being on a lake. Below a neighbor looked like an enchanted forest. After the movie my wife asked that I drive us up Staples Avenue to see what we might see.

Old Town wooden homes get the attention this time of year but I, like my wife, enjoy the quiet streets away from the bars, the family homes decorated in traditional style, as irrelevant as it may be to our lack of Nordic hardiness.

The decorations coming as they do for only one month out of the year, do actually serve that original purpose of lighting the darkest season of the year.

Things at 24 degrees North Latitude don't get terribly extreme. It is warmer than it might be thanks to the Gulf Stream nearby, and winters are correondingly mild but daylight and night time doesn't get terribly out of whack summer or winter thanks to the position of these islands relatively close to the Equator. Were it not for summer time which permits the sun to set close to 8:30pm, daylight year round would vary by perhaps an hour from six o'clock. As it is we are now getting dark at six on winter time.

In Alaska our compatriots get not much sun at all this week, and the ones at the top none at all. So Christmas lights for them might really represent a valuable Yule log burning brightly to keep the impenetrable darkness at bay. In Key West Christmas lights are a lovely burst of color.

I don't find many singularly religious representations in these lights that are symbols to actually celebrate a religious holiday. They are lovely but they don't seem terribly Christian to me, and I'm not religious, by any stretch. So this year I am working the night of the lighted boat parade so these lights will have to do.

We see stars and icicles and lots of lovely colors, there are a few manger scenes celebrating the historically inaccurate notion that Rome would have held a census in mid winter, but though I looked for them I didn't find them this time out. Festival of Lights is enough I suppose.

And in the end, next month we will be back to this. Which I like just fine the other eleven months of the year.

Simplicity: who will trumpet thy virtues?


Martha said...

Lovely Christmas lights photos. I always see holiday lights as winter lights. Something to brighten the deep gloom. I think it's sort of sad to see houses go dark right after Christmas.

Trobairitz said...

Quite the festive light displays.

I want to see 12 Years a Slave, but at the same time I think it will be so heart wrenching. Just the sadness, pain, and atrocities that this country inflicted on people because of the color of their skin sickens me. USA does not have a very noble history.

I too voted for Obama and like you said, he may not have done as much as I'd hoped, but I too am still proud to put him in the White House.

RichardM said...

Yes, here in the frozen north, the lights do a lot to brighten things up. Though in these days of LEDs, do little to add any warmth...

I like the pictured displays.

Anonymous said...

Wow- even though Obama has not lived up to his promises you are " glad" to have put him in office. I infere from your comments that this is based solely on the color of his skin. I am a regular reader and disappointed in your comment as I have come to expect more from you and your enlighted social values.

Unknown said...

Great photos of the lights. They do add color to the night. To me being up in frigid New York, it is strange to see Christmas lights on a palm tree.

Conchscooter said...

I am glad I had the opportunity to vote for a black man to be president. Had he been a Republican that would not have been possible for me. That he would disappoint me once in office was not obvious to me when I voted for him in the primary or the general elections. The second time around my vote for him was as the lesser of two evils, a position I keep telling myself I will not take but my sense of civic duty ends up overriding my irritation when I am in the booth.
I look forward to voting for Hilary Clinton soon and putting the first woman in the office (with my solitary vote!).
I suppose its safe to assume she too will toe the corporate line once elected. Oh well. You can't deny I have some of the optimist within my bleak and scarred soul?