D. None of the above

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

So, what was it like to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sunday during the?

For starters, employers warned their staff about heavy traffic around the Spectrum Center and about parking challenges. They suggested working from home on Friday and over the weekend, if possible, to avoid delays.

As a result, for the entire weekend, the car traffic around this manageable city seemed even lighter than usual. People couldn’t drive too close to the Spectrum Center, but it was nothing like Yankee Stadium or Citi Field before or after a game against a heated rival, or even against a middling team on a warm Saturday in July.

The city rolled out much tighter security than usual, putting up fences around a nearby bus station and restricting walking traffic into the outskirts of the stadium to ticket holders only. 

Once inside, I felt as if I had become a Lilliputian in “Gulliver’s Travels.” Men and women of all ages made 6 feet seem like a minimum height for admission. I felt like a kid who sneaks onto a ride at Disney World despite falling well below the clown’s hand that indicates “you must be this tall to enter.”

The clothing choices reflected a wide variety of fashion statements. Some had come to be seen, decked out in fine suits, flowing dresses and high-heeled shoes. Others strutted around in sweatpants and sweatsuits, donning the jerseys of their favorite players.

Celebrities walked among the commoners, much the same way they do at the U.S. Open. Several people approached a slow-moving and frail-looking Rev. Jesse Jackson to shake his hand. Jackson later received warm applause from the crowd when he appeared on the jumbotron large-screen display.

As taller teenagers, who were well over 6 1/2 feet tall, brushed past us, we wondered whether we might see any of them at this type of event in the next decade. They were probably thinking, and hoping, the same thing.

The game itself, which was supposed to start at 8 p.m., didn’t commence until close to 8:30, amid considerable pomp and circumstance.

The crowd saluted each of the players as they were introduced. The roar became considerably louder for local hero Kemba Walker, the shooting star for the Charlotte Hornets who scored 60 points in a game earlier this season.

The crowd also showered old-timers Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki with affection, saluting the end of magnificent careers that included hard-fought playoff battles and championship runs. The two elder statesmen didn’t disappoint, connecting on 3-point shots that also energized the crowd.

While the All-Star game sometimes disappoints for the token defense that enables teams to score baskets at a breakneck pace, it does give serious players a chance to lower their defenses, enjoying the opportunity to smile and play a game with the other top performers in their sport.

Wade and Nowitzki, who each have infectious smiles, grinned on the court at their teammates, competitors and fans after they sank baskets.

A first-half highlight included a bounce pass alley-oop from North Carolina native Steph Curry to team captain Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the end, Team LeBron beat Team Giannis, 178-164.

The halftime show proved an enormous success, as rapper and North Carolina product — via Germany — J. Cole performed “ATM,” “No Role Modelz,” and “Love Yourz.” The young woman sitting near us knew every word of the songs, swaying, rocking and bouncing in her seat.

I asked her if she knew Cole would be performing and she said, “Of course.” I asked her whether she liked the basketball or the halftime show better. She said she enjoyed both.

Stock photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We’ve all had moments when we wonder: Is this good enough?

The answer depends, in part, on the importance of the outcome. If we’re a cardiac surgeon and we have our hands inside the chest of someone who needs a new valve or stent, good enough doesn’t cut it. We need to make absolutely sure we’ve done everything we can because no one wants to open up someone’s chest a second time to correct a small error or to retrieve something we should have removed.

If we’re driving a car on a slippery road, a turn that’s good enough on a sunny day may not be sufficient in the rain or on ice. We may need to slow down enough that we don’t need to hit the brakes as we head into the turn.

Those are, of course, more extreme examples. Fortunately, most of us live in a world where what we do doesn’t seem so critical. We might be writing a paper about Shakespeare, filing legal briefs, collecting receipts for tax purposes or shoveling snow from our driveway. Each of those tasks, in and of themselves, may not seem to require our best because we have better things to do, we want to get through the class, or we’re tired and we need to give ourselves a rest.

Nonetheless, the smaller efforts can, and do, add up. When we’re shoveling snow, good enough might miss a slick patch of ice that our wife or best friend might slip on while they’re walking to the car. Going beyond good enough could prevent the discomfort or injury from falling.

Even an essay about Shakespeare may require us to think more deeply about what it means to be in love. Down the road, that might help when we’re considering ways to express our admiration or appreciation of a partner, giving us wisdom and words beyond our years. Great words boost the power of our sentiments, just as the sight of a whale breaching transforms a trip to the beach into a memorable outing.

Of course, operating at full strength or beyond good enough for everything may be so physically and mentally draining that we might spend too much time on activities we consider trivial, leaving us with fewer resources to tackle bigger challenges.

So, how do we determine the difference between an activity that requires us to be good enough and another responsibility that mandates something more?

For starters, we may not be capable of more than a few extraordinary efforts in a day. That may be a product of how much sleep we get, how much we can control in our day or how we feel, especially if we’re battling a head cold or some chronic condition.

Keeping ourselves healthy and making sure we have enough energy can and will give us the ability to vault us over the good-enough threshold.

Good enough can become a habit, just like so many other efforts. We can run a mile every other day or we can go a bit farther each time. We may find that good enough for others, or even for former versions of ourselves, is just a start. We may raise the bar for the expectations we set for ourselves to the point where good enough today is so much better than earlier efforts.

Routine or even mundane activities likely don’t require perfect performance. Doing them well, or even beyond “good enough,” keeps us sharp and focused for our more important tasks and also sets a good example for our children, who are watching and listening.

We can and will improve our lives when we decide to raise our own expectations for good enough.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Ah, Cinderella. The glass slipper. The handsome prince. A story that even frustrated, annoyed, irritable teenagers can love, right?

That’s what we thought when we bought the tickets. My wife and I enjoy good music, lyrical singing and creative costumes. So we figured we’d share some of that with our teenage children before we pack them up and ship them off to the next chapter of their lives.

The outing started out with such promise. I drove my teenagers to meet my wife. We connected with her outside a garage, where she used her parking pass to get us into a building several blocks from the show.

As soon as she got in the car, she could tell the mood was dark and foreboding.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Angry 1 and Angry 2 muttered in unison.

“Do you not want to see the show?”

No answer.

“Well? Would you rather go home? Dad can take you back.”

No answer.

“Can I please have my ticket?” my wife asked, sticking out her hand. “I will go alone.”

“No,” I replied. “I want to go, too.”

Walking through a city we didn’t know well, we raced to get to the theater before 7 p.m. It wasn’t easy, but we got in by 6:58 and race-walked to the door.

“You can’t come in,” the usher said.

We slumped our shoulders.

“But it’s not 7 p.m.,” my wife observed.

“Yes, but the show doesn’t start until 7:30. We’ll open the doors in a few minutes.”

Funny, right? Well, no, not in the moment.

“Wait, this starts at 7:30 p.m.?” my son asked. “How long is it?”

The usher informed us it was three 45-minute acts, with two 15-minute intermissions. That meant we’d get home around 11 p.m.

“I have so much homework,” he lamented.

We decided I would retrace our steps back to our car so he could get his backpack, order an Uber and send him on his way. I took a ticket and ran with him to the car. Fortunately, the Uber transfer went well. As I trotted back to the theater, I realized I was missing something. I called my wife.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, sensing the continuing unraveling of the evening.

“I can’t find the ticket. It must have fallen out of my pocket.”

“Oh no, how are you going to get in?”

We talked for a moment and then I realized we could show my wife’s two tickets to the usher with whom I spoke to on the way out. Our daughter could hover near the seats. Fortunately, the usher let me return.

Once the show began with frenzied music and considerable dancing, we waited. And waited. And waited. No one spoke. No one sang. It was, to the surprise of all three of us, a ballet.

Now, I know many fine people who love the ballet. Just as I know many wonderful, albeit misguided, people who love the Patriots. For the three of us, however, a ballet was not only unexpected, it was also unwelcome.

By the time intermission began, we were laughing.

“Should we stay for the second act?” my wife asked.

We stayed for another 45 minutes and left the theater.

“You know, it could have been worse,” our daughter said, as we were driving back home.

“Oh yeah, how?” my wife and I wondered, incredulous.

“All four of us could have seen it,” she said.

We chuckled as we hit every red light on the way home from the shattered glass slipper of an evening.

Daniel Dunaief

The film “Bohemian Rhapsody” is far better than the critics suggest, while “Green Book” isn’t as deep or powerful as it could be. After watching four movies recently, including “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns,” I want to share my reactions to each of these films.

Featuring my favorite superhero, “Aquaman” had the opportunity to inspire and demoralize me at the same time. The movie was going to be a CGI (computer-generated imagery) extravaganza, with numerous impossible-to-imagine scenes filmed underwater. I don’t generally crave spectacular and splashy visuals, especially if they are designed to compensate for a weak script or disappointing acting.

Unfortunately for the water hero, the CGI was considerably more polished than the script, with attempts at humorous dialogue that were so underwhelming that it was tempting to urge the actors to stop talking and continue to swim through the scenery. Nonetheless, the movie did have its escapist and captivating elements. Perhaps the best way to enjoy a movie like this is not to think too much and to appreciate the ride. The spectacular visual spectacle almost merited the effort of seeing the movie on a large screen, instead of waiting for it to appear on a movie channel in a few months time.

Making a “Mary Poppins” sequel immediately asks the film to build on its successes, while introducing something new and engaging in its own right. The film succeeded on the first front, but fell a bit short, at least for me, on the second. Emily Blunt captured Mary’s supreme self-confidence, and magic magnificently. She took an iconic character owned by Julie Andrews and made it her own. The animated sequences, which were more lavish and extended than in the original, helped the movie create its own indelible images. The lyrics to the songs, however, weren’t quite as memorable as the original, at least for me.

“Green Book” maneuvers through the societal challenges that arise from a white driver who is transporting an African-American pianist, Don Shirley, through the South for performances in 1962. The movie feels important because it addresses bias and stereotypes during a period when the struggle for Civil Rights took root. Set against racial tensions, the film addresses the developing relationship between its two stars and has moments of tenderness and transformation for the duo at the heart of the story. It also addresses the remarkable contradiction between white society eager to enjoy the talents of an African-American entertainer and the inability of that same audience to respect the person as an equal.

Still, the movie felt like it could have been so much more. The film shows details of the life story of the driver Tony Lip, played with his usual energy and passion by Viggo Mortensen. Shirley, portrayed by Mahershala Ali, tells the background of his life. The movie would have benefited from a deeper and better understanding of Shirley’s life, which, some members of his family have suggested was different from the portrayal in the film.

That leads me to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I didn’t know a great deal about the musicians or their backstory. For me, the film was an enormous hit for two reasons: Rami Malek, who played lead singer Freddie Mercury, and the music itself. Malek embodied the energy, spirit, and unique character that was Mercury, parading around the stage, commanding every scene and blending bravado with an underlying vulnerability. The story doesn’t turn Mercury into a saint but, rather, shares his complicated life.

For fans of Queen’s music, the movie is a satisfying compilation of familiar hits that allow the legend of a wildly successful group to resonate.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

We have abbreviations for laughter, LOL; for humble opinions, IMHO; and for love, ILU. We need shorthand for something that’s “not about you” (NAY).

We live complicated lives and can often travel along a superhighway of speeding emotions. When someone we know sees us, we may be reacting to something we are feeling that has nothing to do with them. We may have received an email that we got the job, that we won a contest or that our bid for a house was accepted. At the same time, we may not want to share whatever someone else sees in us. It’s why the following conversation is repeated throughout the world:

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. I’m good.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yup, thanks.”

So, maybe the conversation doesn’t track with exactly those mundane words, but the idea is the same: it’s NAY. Whatever someone is feeling in the moment, someone else appears who may have nothing to do with the arriving person. The facial expression, body language or vibe someone may have been transmitting has nothing to do with the other person.

The NAY phenomenon is a concept middle schools should teach their students. After all, most adults recognize the middle school years as among the toughest and least enjoyable periods in life, as each day is a battle to overcome fatigue, acne, self-conscious moments, and that impossible transition from adorable youth to uncomfortable adolescence. Middle school teachers work in a building that is a simmering cauldron of strongly held emotions that can and do change as rapidly as shifting winds during a storm.

After reminding students not to bully each other, to treat others the way they would like to be treated, to take responsibility for their actions and to stay ahead in their classes, schools should also encourage students to understand that snickering, laughing, eye rolling and head shaking are often NAY. If someone disapproves of something or someone, it’s quite likely that something in that person’s life is bothering him or her and that it has nothing to do with you.

When we become parents, we relive so many of the stages of our own lives vicariously, watching our children as they search for new friends, speak to their teachers, pick up a bat to hit a ball or put together the pieces of an instrument. Each step they take is their step, not ours. We can and do help and encourage them, transporting them to rehearsals, suggesting they practice singing arpeggios and providing structure for their lives. Ultimately, however, they reach their goals because of their efforts, their talents and their commitment. Our lives have become so linked to those of our children that we can feel the gut-dropping moment when the ball skids behind them into the goal, when they learn their test scores, or when their boyfriend or girlfriend ends a long-term relationship with them.

Our role, however, is not to pile our emotions on top of the teetering pile or to insert ourselves into our children’s lives. We have to step back, realize that their incredible successes or momentary setbacks are not about us, and try to figure out what they might need.

Children offer us an incredible opportunity for connection, commitment and love. They are not, however, a way to correct the slights we felt when we were young or a chance to become the winners instead of the losers. When anything or everything our children do becomes about us and not about them, then what they do is no longer for themselves, which deprives them of owning their mistakes and accomplishments. So, next time you’re drawn into their lives, make sure you remember it’s NAY.

Stock photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

From birth, hair has been a signal. I had hair when I was born, which probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to people who have known me for years.

When I was young, my haircutter used to imagine becoming wealthy by figuring out what made my hair grow so rapidly.

For those without hair, this isn’t a boast; it’s a part of a genetic heritage that cuts both ways. My hair, as it turns out, is also thick and fast growing on my eyebrows or, as people have preferred to say, eyebrow. The space between my eyebrows is just as eager to grow hair as the area just above my eyes.

In college, I tried to grow my hair longer to see how I’d look with shoulder-length hair. That was a failed experiment as my hair grew out instead of down, turning it into a heavy tangle of thick hair.

When I met my wife, I convinced her that I couldn’t disconnect the hair between my eyebrows, or I would be like Sampson and loose my strength. Amused as she was by the story, she let it slide. The afternoon of our wedding, she was stunned to see me with two eyebrows. She wanted to know what had happened and, more importantly, how I was still standing?

I told her that I went for a professional shave so that my usual facial shadow wouldn’t appear during the wedding. While I had my eyes closed, the barber removed the hair above my nose with a quick wrist flick.

Fortunately, my wife didn’t ask for ongoing removal of that hair when it returned.

As I’ve gotten older, hair has emerged from unwelcome places, making appearances from my ears and nose. Who needs hair there — and how could Charles Darwin possibly explain the presence of such unwelcome hair? Does the ear hair announce my advancing age and lower social value?

That brings us to today. As I was maneuvering through the usual deep thoughts, resolutions and promises for the start of the new year, an errant and unwanted fellow emerged from my nose. He was clearly long enough to attract attention, but what was especially surprising about “Jedediah” wasn’t just that he was long or that he seemed to rappel out of my nose. It was his color that offered such an unwelcome but realistic signal — Jedediah was gray.

Ugh! Who wants or needs a gray nose hair, not only offering the world a clue that my hair growth was out of control, but that I’m also so much older that even my nose hairs have started to show signs of aging? Do people dye their nose hairs?

Should I pluck him, trim him or wear him with pride, hoping that he distracts people from the progressively bushier pile of hair pouring out of my ears?

Wouldn’t a rugged individualist defy convention and wear the years and the hair growth with pride, despite the lack of magazine covers with contemporary studs like Hugh Jackman with hair coming out of their noses? If Hugh made gray nose hair fashionable, would I feel less self-conscious about Jedediah?

Poor Jedediah, who worked so hard to emerge from the nose cave, suffered the same fate as the errant hairs that grew out of my ears. He reluctantly left the warm comfort of my nose and was discarded into the trash.

While hair may tell a story about each person, Jedidiah will no longer be sharing mine, except for readers of this column.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I have no doubt “Alice,” which is not her real name, is a dedicated dancer. I haven’t seen her perform, I haven’t read reviews of a show or even seen a sparkling résumé with copious awards. I also have no way, just by looking at her, of recognizing whether her movements are so refined and controlled that she clearly expresses the majesty of music through movement.

How do I know about her talent? A recent family acquaintance, Alice is a senior in high school who is applying to college. When I asked about her essay, she generously shared it. As a condition for reading her work and writing about it, I agreed to allow her to remain anonymous.

The college application process forces young adults to distill their lives onto the lines of a page. They have the unenviable task of sifting through experiences, memories, hopes and aspirations as they try to figure out what to include and what to exclude.

The latter is perhaps more challenging. Most of us could tell stories about our lives, mentioning the day of the week, the time of year, the names of other people on a trip to New Zealand or the food we ate that day. Those details could be relevant if they indicate something specific about the writer, or they could provide a dense fog through which a reader struggles to find a truth, passion or personal meaning.

Tempting as it might have been for Alice to mention her dancing success or memorable performances, she excluded those details.

Alice honed in on a sensory experience linked to her practices, performances and passion for dance: the smell of her shoes. Indeed, the first line of her essay draws the reader into her world immediately, suggesting that she’s worried about the foul aroma of her shoes spreading through her car.

Beginning an essay with a sensory experience generates an immediately relatable experience, even among those of us who have never stood under hot lights on stage and contorted our bodies in carefully choreographed productions. Readers, whether they are admissions officers, high school teachers or contest judges, have all had moments when they worry a smell can give us away. It doesn’t have to be an unpleasant scent, as we may have cooked a surprise dinner for our partner and don’t want that person to know about it until mealtime.

Alice goes on to describe how the smell reflects the hard work, pain and beauty connected with her dancing. We all have seen the bright light moments when people perform, whether they’re dancing ballet, catching a ball on a Major League Baseball field or sharing a poem they’ve written.

These moments and concerns in between the performances occur more frequently and capture more about Alice’s inner thoughts and drive. The smell becomes an unpleasant but hard-earned badge of honor.

Alice goes on to describe how these shoes mirror her participation in a pursuit that requires her to reach a level of perfection she suggests the body doesn’t achieve naturally. She adds an awareness of the individual nature of the performance, coupled with the fact that she’s never alone, surrounded by others whose feet have the same smell.

Through descriptions like these, Alice is revealing fine details of what she’s doing, the by-product of the effort she exerts and the shared sense of purpose she has with her fellow dancers.

College essays require a mental perspiration akin to that which affected Alice’s shoes. Through those efforts, however, writers not only reveal more about themselves, but they also create lasting impressions for readers searching for evidence of commitment and passion.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

As we marinate in the warmth of the holidays, we have a chance to spend time with friends and family.

We’ve chosen most of our friends ourselves. OK, maybe that’s not exactly true, as we inherit friends from our parents when we’re young: “Oh, why don’t you play with Timmy, who is the son of my best friend whom I met when I was your age”; and from our children when we’re older: “Hey, dad, can you hang out with Allisa’s parents while we wander through Great Adventure theme park.”

Despite the somewhat limited pool of people from which to choose our friends, we often pick those people who share similar values, a sense of humor or a tolerance for politicians.

We don’t have the same luxury with our families. We have nutty family members who say and do all kinds of things that make us cringe, that cause us to laugh long after the events are over or who simply make us scratch our heads.

We often think it’s the other family members who are the oddballs but, in truth, we’re all pretty strange.

Long before people voted each other off shows or islands in situations that seemed completely contrived in reality TV shows, family members confronted the awkward moments when they saw each other, year after year, at holidays, birthdays, special occasions and, perhaps, uncomfortable or less-than-ideal moments.

Families provide us with opportunities to test ourselves and our theories without worrying about losing a job, losing a friend or losing our minds. We can challenge ourselves and our families with ideas percolating in our heads, but that may not be exactly what we believe.

Our families receive the best and the worst of our impulses, as we step forward to help each other, but also encourage independent growth and development.

As older members of families, we hope to lead not only by our words but by our examples. Failing that, however, we hope that our spouses, children, parents and siblings can see us for the range of our contributions to the family, and not just for that ignominious moment that we’d just as soon forget.

Families offer reality checks on the myths we create for ourselves. “No, Dan, you didn’t win that horseback-riding ribbon because you had such a great ride. You fell off the horse and the judges felt sorry for you when you landed in horse manure. Good try, though.”

These moments when families hold up mirrors to us can help ground us, keeping us from becoming too proud or mighty. On the other side, however, when we’re feeling down, families can serve as the perfect counterweight, suggesting that we have succeeded in more difficult circumstances and that they are certain of a positive outcome, even if we harbor significant doubts.

Movies about families often run the gamut of emotions, from slapstick, to comical, to serious and even bruising, as rivalries that run amok can become the origin of dysfunction even when we step away from these familial contacts.

Certainly, therapists often start and end with the family dynamic, drawing an understanding of habits we may not know we have until we look back at the lives and roles that brought us to this point.

At their best, families can inspire and encourage, while suggesting that we can and should believe in ourselves while we pursue our goals. Ultimately, families who demonstrate unconditional love and support, even if they do laugh at us periodically, set the kind of example that makes the accomplishments of the next generation possible. Here’s to everything we give, get and laugh about from the people we call family.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Old school. It’s a phrase that suggests someone, like yours truly, does something one way, even if there might be an easier, more efficient or modern alternative method for doing things.

Take reading a book. My teenage children think nothing of doing their assigned reading for classes on electronic devices.

That just doesn’t work for me. For me, reading has
always been a multisensory experience. I enjoy finishing a page and flipping to the next one, anticipating the next set of words even as I know how many pages are left in the book by the size of the stack to the left and right.

When I was young, I used to figure out the exact middle of a book. I had an understated celebration when I reached the midpoint, even though the prologue, or introduction, often tilted the balance slightly.

Of course, I could do the same thing with an electronic version of a book.

And yet it’s just not the same for me. I also liked to see the names of the people who read the book in school before me. These students had perused the same pages, found the same shocking revelations and associated with the characters as they moved through the same year in their lives.

When I reread a chapter, searched for symbols or literary devices, I could recall exactly where on a page I might have seen something.

In an e-book, every page is the same. None of the pages is slightly darker, has a bent corner where someone might have stopped, or has a slightly larger “e” or a word that’s printed above the others on a line. The virtual pages are indistinct from each other, except for the specific words on the page or the chapter numbers.

I suppose people like me are why a store like Barnes & Noble can still exist, despite the ease and low cost of uploading books. And, yes, I understand when I travel how much lighter my suitcase would be if I uploaded 100 books without lugging the weight of the paper. I also understand that e-books are more environmentally friendly. Once a paper book is produced, however, it no longer requires constant battery recharging.

Passing along books read by earlier generations connects us to our parents and grandparents. We can imagine them holding the book at a distance as their eyes started to change, falling asleep with the book in their laps, or sitting on the couch until late at night, eager to finish a book before going to bed. We can also picture them throwing a book that frustrated them across the room or out the window.

Among the many Titanic stories that sticks out for me is the tale of Harry Elkins Widener, a 27-year-old book collector who boarded the ill-fated ship with his mother and father in Cherbourg, France. Legend has it that he died with a rare 1598 book, “Essays” by Francis Bacon, that he had bought in London. Harry and his father died aboard the ship, while their mother survived the sinking. After her son perished, she donated $2 million — an enormous sum in 1912 — to Harvard to construct a
library which is still on the main campus.

While I’m sure it’s possible to pick a random section of an e-book, I have grabbed books from a shelf and leafed to a random page, trying to figure out where in the story I have landed.

I am delighted to hold children’s books, including many of the Dr. Seuss collection. Also, I remember my children searched each page of “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown for the mouse. There’s probably a mouse in the virtual version and touching it may even make the mouse grow, scurry across the virtual page or offer lessons about rhyming couplets.

Still, for my reading pleasure, I’m old school: Hand me a book and I’ll carry around a friend.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Over the years, I’ve seen many ways of decorating for Christmas although they are variations on the Rudolph, Santa, Frosty, Nativity themes.

This year, perhaps we could use some modern iconography to celebrate the themes and elements that are parts of our lives. Here are my top 10 suggestions for new Christmas iconography — without any connection to a religion:

10. Déjà Santa: Perhaps, in addition to Santa on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, eager decorators should add another Santa, pulled by a similar-looking group of reindeer behind the leader in an homage to the sequels that have become routine in our lives, from Wall Street to Main Street to “Rodeo Drive, baby” — yes, that’s a reference to the movie “Pretty Woman,” which in case you haven’t heard or seen the ubiquitous ads is now a Broadway musical. By the way, I read recently that “Dear Evan Hansen” will become a movie.

9. Cellphones: Somewhere on lawns throughout America, oversized cellphones could become a part of the decorative landscape. In addition to a mother and father cellphone, little cellphones could congregate around a cellphone Christmas tree, with little wrapped apps under the tree just waiting to integrate into the world of the little cellphones.

8. Ice-cream Cones: Ice-cream stores seem to be springing up everywhere, with the scent of malted cones wafting out of their doors and up and down streets, beckoning to those whose stomachs anticipate the inextricably intertwined link between sugar and celebrations. Let’s also celebrate all the mix-ins and candy toppings which have become the main course, pushing the ice cream deep beneath a pile of multicolored candy toppings or shoving a small melting pile to the side.

7. Gyms: Yes, I know Olivia Newton-John and her generation celebrated “getting physical,” but with the abundance of ice-cream stores, we could use more time at gyms, which are often conveniently located next door to ice-cream shops.

6. The Intrepid Weather Person: We’ve watched as weather reporters race off to find the defining images of storms of the century, which appear to rip through the country almost every year. Let’s install on our lawns a windblown weather person, holding a microphone that threatens to fly out of his or her hand.

5. A Collection of Marchers: Not since the 1970s have this many people come out with a wide range of signs in support of or in opposition to someone or something. How about some marchers with “Go Santa” or maybe just “I believe in something” signs for the modern decorated lawn?

4. The Constitution: More than ever, a document ratified 230 years ago has kept the peace. The Constitution seemed to anticipate modern imbroglios. Perhaps an enormous Constitution, or even a list of amendments, could glow on a lawn.

3. A Grand Stage: Everyone seems well aware of the cellphones pointed at them, recording their celebrations and pratfalls. People crave their five minutes of fame: Why not give them a stage on a front lawn?

2. The Driverless Car: Yes, it’s finally here, a car that drives and parks itself. A modern lawn could celebrate the long-discussed innovation with a car that pulls away from a decorated curb, circles a small block and reparks itself. I would watch the car the way I used to watch model trains.

1. The Hashtag: What was once a tic-tac-toe board or an extra button on a phone has become a calling card for self-expression. Let’s add colored lines and lights to our #moderncelebrations.      

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