Nearsighted at Christmastime


When I was just a kid, and my nearsightedness had just manifested itself (I had German measles around the age of eight, which apparently damaged my eyesight), Christmas was wonderful.  The lights on the Christmas tree were dazzling: swirled together and blurred slightly, as if filmed through a Vaseline-coated lens.  It made “Christmas magic” seem like a real thing.



I haven’t thought of that in years.  Except:



The tradition of Christmas lights has never really died here in Rhode Island.  Some communities – East Providence, for example – have whole neighborhoods that blaze with huge displays: reindeer, multiple Santas, wise men, polar bears, penguins, the Virgin Mary, all in multicolored lights.  It is a wonder and a miracle.



I noticed last year, and even more so this year, that this seems to be growing more widespread.  For a while, the more staid communities only had white lights, or blue, or none at all.  Now people are using those wonderful big multicolored lights that we had when I was a kid, and they’re beautiful.



Hey! I thought last evening, while walking through the neighborhood and admiring the neighbors’ lights.  I bet, if I take my glasses off, they’ll be so much prettier.  Just like when I was a kid.



Well, like so many other things, this little morsel of Christmas magic has been taken from me.



My eyesight has worsened considerably since my childhood.  I knew this, of course, but I figured it would make the swirl of multicolored lights even more interesting.  Trust me: it did not.  It made them sickeningly awful.  White lights turned into a nebulous blur; blue lights were nightmarish.  Multicolored lights were dominated by red and orange tones, and looked like bloated dying masses of stars, pulsing and heaving inward and outward.



Man, I put my glasses back on real fast after that.



There must be a moral in this somewhere, I suppose.



Happy Christmas season, kids!





About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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