Sunday, January 07, 2007

Post Holiday Blues

It is hard to avoid. At least for me. The end of the holidays and the resulting melancholy.

Be it Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice, the wonderful thing about this time of the year is, at least for me, the focus on celebration, on joy, on giving. It is a time of year when, for moments, the world seems a bit less divided.

The holidays never feel complete without the decorations that make there way out of dusty boxes and hidden attics, the lights that appear on street lamps and hung across city centers around the world. And while inevitable extremes (i.e. the need for 20 foot inflatable reindeer) can lend an air of cheesiness to the holiday cheer spreading across the world, it all contributes to a feeling that a certain magic has settled upon us, if only for fleeting moments.

A transformation occurs when a noble fir finds its way into our living room; it’s a family tradition, which, without fail, requires a bit of muscle, a little ingenuity and lots of patience. Oh, and a plastic tarp for insurance. But, the results are always worth it. The smell of pine wafting through the halls, the sparkle of lights which tease the eye once the sun goes down. Everything seems wrapped in a blanket of enchanted beauty. Like the moments after a heavy snowfall, when the world is silent in soft pelt of fluffy white.

The buzzwords nowadays are adaptable architecture, responsive architecture, architecture ready to meet the needs of its occupants. We dream of places that change and transform and reconfigure. And we design complex systems in order to accomplish such feats.

But, for all the accomplishment, technological glory, I still wonder at the impact, the ultimate effect, of such wizardry. Perhaps it might make life a bit simpler, a little more efficient. But, at the end of the day, will it ever create ephemeral delights matching that of a tree, lights, and ribbon? Will it accomplish what, to me, is the magic of architecture – the ability to move people in unexplainable ways.

So, as the decorations come down, the ornaments of years gone by wrapped into tissue paper and plastic bags, I can’t help feel a bit remiss that things can not stay exactly the way they are. Then again, if they were, that moment when the tree is finally done, glimmering with the happiness and expectation of a new holiday season, would be lost. So, until next year, when the time comes to once again transform our living room, I will hold to the memories of this year, and anticipate the pleasure of a season yet to come.


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