When I was a kid and my dad would ride us around town to look at the Christmas lights, the biggest, brightest, most eye-popping displays were the ones we kids loved best. We never thought about what it must be like to live next door to such a display for weeks on end. Suffice it to say, different people approach holiday decorating in different ways, and we also must consider different religions’ holidays and ways of celebrating them.
The manner in which community associations address the issue of holiday decorations can either build community spirit or put a damper on the spirit of the season. If the governing documents permit regulating holiday displays, it’s essential that the regulations be reasonable – and in writing. Although it may be personally satisfying to some people to cover every square inch of available space with decorations, it is usually not conducive to the appealing look of the community. However, rational neighbors should be able to tolerate most reasonable decorations for a short period of time. Patience wears thin, though, when the elves are still gracing the lawn in February and the icicle lights still hang from the eaves in mid-July.
Philip Reid’s small dog, Paolo, is hardly the kind of animal to strike fear in the hearts of children. Yet two African Muslim girls were anything but delighted as Reid walked the Boston terrier-pug blend on a leash at his culturally diverse, mixed income neighborhood.
“The girls were running by, and they screamed when they Saw him, and I said ‘He’s not going to hurt you'” recalls Reid. “They said it’s a religious thing, and I was kind of Shocked.”
Reid did his homework and learned, sure enough, many Muslims avoid dogs, believing them to be unclean animals. In fact, Muslims who come into contact with dog saliva are obligated to go through elaborate cleansing rituals.