There is a camellia bush outside my kitchen window. On the north side. That’s where the sidewalk licks one side of the house. The camellia bush is thick and oval-shaped like an oversized green egg. Perfect to drape some Christmas lights around. Which I did, on December 1st. They looked pretty until today when someone ripped them off and threw some in the middle of the road. I found them in shape of Christmas lights roadkill. I was not sure whether to feel sad or angry. Actually I did, I felt angry. Why would someone do that? When our Thanksgiving pumpkin was stolen I assumed it was a joke. A bad one, but still, I offered the benefit of doubt. Now it’s the lights. The boys kept asking me why and I had no better answer than “because someone felt like it.” They both concluded that the people who did it were “mean idiots” and I could not bring myself to be socially meek and reprimand their judgmental attitude.

So much for the Christmas spirit, you’ll say. Well, mine is just temporarily dampened, but it’ll be back up by tomorrow morning. I fixed the remaining lights, will go get some more to replace the ones that got destroyed, but the worst of this whole thing is that I lost the safe feeling I had all along since moving to this neighborhood. As a recovering nictophobic – afraid of darkness and all that’s encompassed by it – well, it’s not easy. It took me years – not a figure of speech at all – to convince myself that taking the garbage out is not a deadly deed and people actually live to tell the story. If you’ve never lived through fear like that smile away. It’s not pretty. Invisible meanness and the concealing darkness as a perfect accomplice gnawing at my innocent Christmas lights made me both fearful and angry and brought back some shards of that old stiff-like-ice fear feeling.Threw them out with the rest of the garbage tonight though. Because I have choices, you see. To yield or not. I choose not to.

I will continue to assume that people are good, most of them anyway. The ones who show meanness will only reinforce the belief that we don’t live in a perfect world and that’s that. That’s one of the reasons why I could never approve of those children’s books where all characters are good and noble and loving without an ounce of malice. They ain’t real. They’re not telling of the real world and are therefore bound to build a bubble that will burst eventually. And when it does it’s both noisy and stinky. Been there done that so I can talk about it. Yeah, it was before the Christmas lights got smoked, no pun intended.

The boys will ask about it for a while, I’m sure of it, trying to understand why. They never will, because there is no good enough answer. I cannot explain meanness. But I’ll tell them the good news, and that is that we have choices, always. Even in the dark.