Short of a solution for world peace...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Short of a solution for world peace this holiday season, we can offer a suggestion for reducing rancor, angst and one-upmanship: Lighten up on the holiday decorations.

Not that we're against the beauty of all the lights and ornaments on display, but the suffocating sense of style increasingly

inherent in seasonal trimmings is going to sap the fun out of it someday.

The Christmas decoration industry has been abuilding for years, but it really hit us when we saw a blurb in the New York Times a month ago about Hillary Clinton bringing in Ralph Lauren to do up the White House for Christmas. (The Washington Post later minimized that sighting: Lauren was only one among many decorating influences at the Clinton's.)

Then, we noted the unhappiness among some Baltimoreans that the city's Washington Monument and Harborplace were bedecked in colored lights rather than understated white bulbs. Mon Dieu!

We were also left agog at a recent Sunday Sun profile of Christopher Radko, the 34-year-old former mail clerk turned millionaire entrepreneur with his glass ornaments. Everyone from Gore to Demi Moore decorate with Radkos, whose pieces are hot collectibles, too. His "Partridge in a Pear Tree," priced at $38 originally, has escalated enough in price to buy five golden rings.

Even more widespread is Hallmark's empire. Its ornament line is now sold year-round and has given birth to collectors clubs and investors guides. Most horrifying, you're now most apt to find gewgaws celebrating Star Trek, Barney the dinosaur and other licensed characters that strain the most generous perceptions of Christmas.

Our solution? Return to those fat rainbow bulbs that Martha Stewart wouldn't be caught dead with. The fact is, those outrageous, pulsating, reindeer-on-the-roof yard displays in our communities -- like the 1,000-light job at the Towson home of a retired banker written up recently -- are truly the decorations that honor the season by transforming us all into children.

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