Christmas in Carroll Gardens

Dominick and Mary, my landlords, live on the first two floors of our brownstone. Implausibly, Dominick is “in the Christmas business”. When I moved in last April, he sheepishly outlined the rules for Christmas decorations:

“Anything you want inside the apartment, but we like to hang plain green wreaths in each of the windows for outside.”

My previous landlord was an elderly Russian-Jewish Bond girl, and wouldn’t have cared if I’d hung a live nude Santa on my front door. Especially not in April.

During my Thanksgiving vacation, Dom and Mary left three messages on my cellphone to arrange when they could get into my apartment to hang wreaths on the windows. I was amazed that people could think about such a thing in November, but I’d never seen Carroll Gardens at Christmas before. Besides the wreaths in every window, they have three Christmas trees in their apartment, and not a scrap of green is visible on any of them beneath the decorations. The backyard is full of life-sized, brightly-lit angels. Not puny, dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin angels; these are each as big as a well-fed nine-year old.

On Saturday night, they thew a Christmas party. They hired a piano player and a show-tunes singer, and persuaded my upstairs neighbor, Matt, to dress up in an elaborate Santa costume. Santa sat in front of the fireplace and handed out treats to all the neighbors. Dominick took Polaroids as they balanced on his meaty knees.

“Ho ho ho,” Santa boomed, “Where’s my shrimp? I was promised shrimp! Ho ho ho!”

He fled from heat exhaustion before the last presents were distributed.

Someone hired two salsa dancers who danced wildly with blow-up doll women. The blow-up doll women chipped away further at my dancing confidence, though I now have hope that if I were actually strapped to the feet and hands of a competent lead, I might amount to something. Feminism’s loss is aesthetics’ gain.

Then everyone gathered around the piano and sang carols and standards. Dom and Mary danced cheek-to-cheek, expertly. We were all well-fed and glowing with wine and twinkly lights and good cheer. They weren’t my friends and neighbors, exactly, but I was glad to learn that the spirit of Christmas movies can be real, sometimes.

Is it wrong to love a borough this much?

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