Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas in Second Life is exemplified by the many visual attractions created by artists as well as the gifts they offer to visitors. An amazing number of Christmas decorations are for sale throughout the world, from virtual mistletoe that includes music and kissing poses to a multitude of Christmas trees, with or without flashing lights, stars, ornaments and ribbons. There are 'live' and artificial trees in every style imaginable, from the classical Victorian trees to ultra-modern, even futuristic Christmas trees.

Gifts vary from small to large, from trivial to majestic. There are artists who give entire outfits, collections of Christmas decorations and jewelry. Others organise treasure hunts, with gifts hidden in holly sprigs or other objects. Many sims have set up skating rinks with free skates for visitors. Snow can be acquired in a number of different ways to be made to fall on land or to carry on your person so that you are surrounded by a flurry of snowflakes wherever you walk. One clever artist has designed Christmas fur-topped boots that leave an image of candy canes on the ground in lieu of footprints. The same artist created a truly adorable pair of 'pumpkin' shoes for Hallowe'en.

Decorating land for the Christmas holidays in Second Life is as fun and satisfying as decorating a Christmas tree in the 'real world'. Trying to balance time and energy in both worlds during the holiday season can be a challenge for those who are seduced by the creative potential in Second Life.

After all, any one who is drawn to magic can find it in operation in the virtual world and there is no distinction between adulthood and childhood in the world of the imagination. Every resident in Second Life is free to embrace the unbridled magic and enthusiasm of childhood... and this is particularly attractive at Christmas, a time filled with magical traditions.

My first holiday task in Second Life was to decorate the land. I created a little corner where snow lay thick on the ground and fell from the skies. Evergreens decorated with lights as well as snowdrops furthered the atmosphere of Winter. When I found a delightful Christmas Cabin created by Darks Adria, I realised it would provide the perfect Christmas haven for this little Winter Wonderland.

A reindeer created by Deborah Defarge soon joined the Cabin and an existing mountain lion who had basked on top of a rock in the sunshine during the Summer and Autumn seasons.

I waited until Christmas Eve to place a fully decorated Christmas tree in front of the Cabin. Christmas Trees in Second Life are not as expensive as those in this world and they require neither time nor energy to decorate as they usually are fully decorated at the time of purchase. I therefore was able to set a Christmas tree in each one of my castles in Second Life. My virtual cat seemed to be fascinated by the lights on the Tree and assumed a position as guard at the foot of it in the castle.

Many artists who design clothing in Second Life offered delectable outfits for the holiday season. How could one resist? In the real world, an outfit made of silk or velvet, trimmed with fur, feathers or diamonds would cost a fortune and probably not be worn unless one frequented palaces or state functions. In Second Life, any one can be a Princess. Why not indulge in total fantasy fulfillment in the virtual world in terms of fashion?

Bedazzled by flashing diamonds and glittering velvets, I decided to immortalise the fantasy in a photograph mainly for my own amusement. I created more than one avatar some time ago and slowly each has come to embody a different aspect of my personality. My Valkyrie Warrior avatar usually is winged and is a more serious character than my 'human' persona. I have a Neko or cat avatar as well... As I dressed two of my avatars for Christmas and took photographs of them, I suddenly wondered which of them was a truer representation of my inner self. All of my avatars are beautiful in a way, probably because I always have responded to beauty myself and try to surround myself with it... There are those, however, who find some of my characters forbidding, even frightening. We all have both Light and Darkness within us and in fact, without Shadow, Light would be undefined. Darkness should not be equated with Evil, in my opinion. It simply is the other side of the coin of Light. Day and Night both have their own beauty and purpose. I wonder, though, which one of my characters defines me more... but perhaps it is not necessary to make a choice. In Second Life, one is free to be many different beings at different times and places.

As far as the Spirit of Christmas is concerned, it became obvious to me that this has as many different aspects and faces as my own self in Second Life. There are some 'dark' sims decorated for the season that take one's breath away. There are heartrendingly beautiful sims and 'cute' sims. There are sims decorated with humour and sims decorated with aesthetic perfection. In Second Life, my Winter Ice Princess (with her hidden fangs) can find herself at home as easily as my Cat or my wholly human avatar in her Renaissance finery.

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