Ethics Observations On The Annoying Case Of The Lingering Christmas Decorations

Xmas lights-letter

Full disclosure: The Marshall Christmas tree is still up, though absent an unforeseen intervening event, today will be its last.

Long Island resident Sara Pascucci received a typed, anonymous letter a week ago reading: “Take your Christmas lights down! Its Valentines Day!!!!!!”

Her relatively elaborate decorations can be seen above, along with the obnoxious missive. As the Washington Post tells the story, Pascucci was especially upset by the letter because she had lost both her father and aunt in January “to” the Wuhan virus. We now know (or should know) that they may have died of something else entirely but with the virus rather than from or of the virus and would still be listed as pandemic casualties because the idea is to keep the public as terrified and malleable as possible. This is irrelevant to the story, but it drives me crazy. What the father and aunt died of is also irrelevant to the story, and in fact I don’t see any justification for including the information at all except as more pandemic-panic propaganda, which has been the news media’s mission for a year. If Pascucci’s father had died of complications following a stroke and her aunt was 105 and had died of an allergic reaction to peanut oil, do you really think that would have been included in the story?

But I digress…

Pascucci’s father, who had lived with her, put up Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving every year. In the weeks following his death in mid-January, Pascucci couldn’t bring herself to take the decorations down. That’s absolutely understandable, not that she needs an excuse for leaving them up. My wife wouldn’t allow us to remove all of Rugby’s toys from sight after our beloved Jack Russell died in July of 2019: she said, it felt like erasing his memory. But no neighbor sent us an anonymous letter saying, “Bring in that dog lead in front of your house! Your dog’s been DEAD for months!” As for lingering Christmas lights, in my Alexandria , VA. neighborhood about ten homes still have their lawn decorations up, presumably for the same reason our tree is still standing. They look festive, and they make the homes’ residents, and maybe the neighbors too, feel good. I know I like seeing them. And it’s nobody else’s damn business.

Sorry. Digressing again.

Pascucci says that receiving the letter was “a major blow to the heart.” Oh, please. Let’s not go overboard here. All the letter means is that one of her neighbors is a cowardly, inter-meddling asshole. It should make her angry, as it would me, but “major blow to the heart“?

She shared the offensive letter in the Long Island Moms Facebook group and explained why she found it particularly painful, in the hopes that the anonymous sender might see her post. “For anyone in the Bethpage area — if you know of a person who would do something so insensitive like this please pass along my message,” Pascucci wrote. The message included all of the irrelevant and perhaps misleading details about the deaths of her father and aunt, thus implicitly explaining to the unnamed jerk why her decorations were still up. This approach thus accepts the letter-writer’s presumption that an explanation and justification is necessary, and it’s not. My message would have been along the lines of:

“To the craven ass who sent me this anonymous letter, my message is “Bite me.” It is none of your business how long I or anyone else leaves Christmas decorations up, and sending anonymous complaints reveals the character of a slug. Just for you, I will be adding some lights this week, and they will all stay up longer than they would have had you not thrown your anonymous hat in the ring to be elected Bad Neighbor of the Year. Merry Christmas!”

Heart-wounded Sara, in contrast, after she had needlessly detailed why her father put up the lights every year, ended her post with “Be kind to people because you never know what they are going through.” No, be kind to people because that’s how we should treat each other whether we know what they are “going through” or not. Everyone has problems, but that is not why we shouldn’t send stupid anonymous letters harassing neighbors. Being kind makes society work and life more pleasant. Besides, this episode isn’t about a neighbor not being sufficiently kind. It’s about a neighbor behaving terribly for no reason, because the neighbor is terrible. Not “unkind.” Terrible.

“I didn’t post it looking for pity,” Pascucci told the Post. <cough>”But people should think before doing things like this, especially right now with everything going on in the world.”

Ugh! More “In these very special times…” virtue signalling! I’m this close to telling Sarah to bite me. It would be just as wrong for a neighbor to send an anonymous letter ordering her to take down her decorations if greenbacks were raining down from the sky, John Lennon’s dreams had all come true, her father and aunt had swum in the magic pool from “Cocoon” and hunger, pestilence and death had been ended by heavenly fiat.

And people should think before doing anything.

But playing the victim to the hilt has payed off for Sarah: the good neighbors have sent the Pascucci family cards, flowers and meals, and a GoFundMe page was created to help cover the family’s mortgage payments and funeral costs, as they all try to prove that they weren’t the ones who sent the letter.

Of course, if the letter-writer is smart, he or she will send a casserole.

21 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Annoying Case Of The Lingering Christmas Decorations

  1. Pascucci says that receiving the letter was “a major blow to the heart.” Oh, please. Let’s not go overboard here. All the letter means is that one of her neighbors is a cowardly, inter-meddling asshole. It should make her angry, as it would me, but “major blow to the heart“?

    I was all sympathetic to Pasucci until I read this. Does everything these days have to be an emotional calamity and couched in hyperbole? I know it’s the Facebook and Twitter way, but it seems to have infected our entire culture. Anyone who describes their feelings in Apocalyptic terms need not direct their missive to me — I am deaf to them.

    Disgusting.

    Ugh! More “In these very special times…” virtue signalling! I’m this close to telling Sarah to bite me.

    I’ll spare you the trouble — Bite me, Sarah. Grow a spine, and invest in some psychotherapy, because apparently you’re too emotionally insecure to survive even this “safety at the expense of anything” time. And thanks for showing me once again why I loathe snowflakes who melt at the least hint of unkindness and don’t have the wit or fortitude to stand up to it in any way other than a plea for sympathy.

    But playing the victim to the hilt has payed off for Sarah: the good neighbors have sent the Pascucci family cards, flowers and meals, and a GoFundMe page was created to help cover the family’s mortgage payments and funeral costs, as they all try to prove that they weren’t the ones who sent the letter.

    I guess she’s crazy like a fox. Debase yourself enough with emotional gobbledygook an virtue-signaling, and people will throw money your way.

    This is what America, land of the free and home of the brave, has come to — land of the emo ninny and home of the snowflake. No wonder France is afraid they’ll catch our psychic malaise.

    • I got such a kick out of France being upset about things like critical race theory coming to their shores when it was all the post war French intellectuals and post modernists (ever heard of Michel Foucault, Frenchy?) who started all the bad thinking in the American academy. I hate sounding as if I’m a four year old in a sand box, but I think the appropriate response to Macron et al. would be a simple “You started it!”

      Great rant by the way, Glenn. No wonder people can’t pay off their student loans. They’re all too busy being hurt all the time to get anything profitable done.

  2. “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” Therefore, “Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine!”

  3. Poor Sarah missed the posts from Frank the Christmas Gargoyle on FB. In my humble opinion, that’s a much better way to handle obnoxious neighbors.

  4. Boy, I didn’t take mine down until late January because the doctors wouldn’t let me do it until then. Nobody sent me a note, but I just would have said “I will take them down as soon as I am able to, the doctors won’t let me climb ladders yet”. Likewise, this person could have just said “I am leaving them up for awhile in my father’s memory”. I guess they wouldn’t have gotten a GoFundMe page then.

  5. I always heard that it was irreverent to leave decorations up after twelfth night, as it would take away from marking the season as special.

    About that dog leash, you could make a film reference by tying it to your car. That would really do the “epater les bourgeois” thing to nosy parkers who thought you really had had a dog tied there, as in the film. You would have “payed” them back.

  6. Jack, THANK YOU for your full disclosure about leaving your tree up. Some of us need validation. That “some” would include me. I told the wife, after all the visits with kids and grandkids, and after all the great food and drink that accompanies the season, and because year 2020 sucked so bad, I want to leave our tree up for all of January. She didn’t even flinch with objection. That was most unexpected. But then, Christmas 2019, I was in the hospital, so maybe that factored into her non-flinching.

    We removed the most delicate ornaments just yesterday and re-wrapped them for safe keeping till next Christmas. The tree is now down. Of course, our lawn decorations were down by around the turn of the new year. Neighborhood covenants. I am not a lawyer, so I would not challenge those covenants, let alone defy them. All the neighbors are similarly “in synch” with us, so the usual nighttime darkness-of-lawns-and-houses all down the street resumed at about the same time.

    If ever we get a letter like the one that lady got, our response will be like yours, Jack.

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