Maybe it's a regional thing or a cultural thing but I've never experienced holidays quite the way I've experienced them since I moved to New Jersey. They really take their holidays seriously around here. Perhaps things have changed out on Long Island as time has passed. I don't know. I do know that decorating doesn't begin and end with Christmas around here. But since it is the Christmas season (okay, holiday season), let's focus on that.
If you were in the vicinity of Lincoln Park, New Jersey, on Saturday the 16th and you needed emergency assistance, your call to 911 may have gone something like this:
Operator: Season greetings and thank you for calling 911. All operators are busy assisting other customers. Please hold and your call will be accepted by the next available operator.
You: (exasperated sigh followed by 2 choruses of "Silent Night.")
Operator: Thank you for holding, this is Liz. How may I...
You: I've been in an accident! I need help!
Operator: Okay, no need to interrupt me. It is the holiday season, you know.
You: I'm bleeding! I need an ambulance!
Operator: Ooh, I'm sorry. All of our ambulances are out at the moment.
You: They're out?
Operator: Yup! Fire trucks, too! They're at Shop Rite. Santa's in town!
Operator: So? We have to tell everyone! So we've dispatched all of our emergency vehicles to the parking lot of a shopping center so people and meet and greet Saint Nick.
You: What am I supposed to do?
Operator: I'm not the one who decided to have an accident on the day Santa came to Shop Rite.
And so on.
These crappy pictures don't do justice to the scene I witnessed last Saturday night (they looked so good on my camera phone). There were enough flashing lights and emergency vehicles to make one think that a major catastrophe had just occurred. But no such luck. No, it was just the town's way of bringing Santa Claus to town.
Maybe this happens near you as well. Fire trucks slowly drive through neighborhoods, sirens blaring. You run to the window to see if someone's been hurt or if some misfortune has befallen one of your neighbors. But what you see is some guy dressed as Santa Claus waving to the houses.
I suppose one benefit of living in the suburbs is the lack of multiple emergencies. So it must be okay to use a fire truck to chauffeur Santa around town. I've got to assume that there's at least one piece of emergency equipment in the garage for, you, just in case. But Lincoln Park is a small town...so small that they use the high school from a neighboring town. There had to be 3 fire trucks and 4 ambulances blocking the Shop Rite parking lot. Hey, it doesn't bother me. I'm being neither a Grinch nor a Scrooge about it. But it just seems a bit excessive, doesn't it?
If you or someone you know was badly burned and in need of emergency assistance on Saturday evening, let me know. I'm not going to do anything about it. I'm just curious.