At this most festive time of the year, the English Department of the George Washington University celebrates the looming solstice through an annual display of kitschy gaudity.
At its center is a Nondenominational Festivus Sprig, a vaguely pine tree-ish creation about two feet high. The Sprig changes color every few seconds via fiber optic wizardry: glaring green, ribald red, awful orange, baleful blue, yipes-it's-yellow, and so on. We also hang the thing's branches with shiny pink, aquamarine, and teal orbs, thus heightening its pleasing aesthetic effect.
The office itself is strung with Hanukkah-colored garlands (blue and silver). At random intervals we have suspended small round ornaments from the ceiling, typically on strings that are too long. The effect of these Tiny Orbs of Menace is to turn the office into an obstacle course. Their thoughts turned to Milton and Woolf and Said, scholars on their way to the copy machine run into the inconveniently suspended objects, giving us a seasonal soundtrack of "Oh!" and "Oops!" and "Ouch!" that plays all the day long.
It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
[photo credit: the view from my office. Only the most agile can enter without touching the dangling orb. It's amazing how few people stop by anymore.]