As we wait for the first snowfall, Rhode Islanders are comforted by certain sights that kindle the spirit of the winter holidays, from the tree lightings and Main Street ornamentation that give each town and village its distinctive seasonal look to the backyard glowing-bulb narratives of nativities, winter wonderlands and Santa’s workshops.
Each day my commute passes Santa on a forklift along I95 South and every evening I return home to the sight of New England Pest Control’s giant termite, wearing lighted antlers, a blinking red nose and blue illumination on its thorax and abdomen. But Rhody’s Big Blue (Christmas) Bug isn’t the only yuletide roadside ritual.
Trips to Tiverton are marked by the homeless nativity scene at Amicable Congregational Church, where about a dozen years ago Pastor William Sterrett and local chainsaw artist Michael Higgins teamed up to present a modern version of the First Noel. The scene features Jose, an unemployed migrant farm worker; Maura, a pregnant runaway; Hope, their newborn daughter; Gabe, an African American angel; David, a Native American working at Walgreens; Anna, a battered woman working the night shift at a medical center; a shopping cart; and an oil drum providing heat.
Another sign of the season is the holiday press release. Every year companies pitch various holiday-survey stories to newspapers to keep their products in the public eye during the Christmas blitz. Last week we received one from Dunkin’ Donuts asking the question: “Which part of the gingerbread man cookie do you eat first?” Turns out that 64 percent start with the head (my choice), while 20 percent go for the legs and only 16 percent begin at the arms. Left unsaid is that gingerbread men occupy the same diminished land of extremities as Oscar statuettes and harem guards, but since this is a family-friendly blog, we’ll leave our exploration of this topic right there.
Except to add that a town council in England recently voted to change the name of gingerbread men to gingerbread persons, only to reverse course after people not made of gingerbread complained that it was a plan that could only have been dreamed up by a fruitcake.
What is your favorite sign of the winter holidays in Rhode Island?