Lights Out.

Source: Things You Wouldn’t Know If We Didn’t Blog Intermittently.

When I was a kid I begged my parents to get Christmas lights for our house. We’d drive by other houses with Christmas lights and I always thought they looked so fantastic. I thought it must be wonderful for the people who lived in those houses to have those lights right there all the time. I didn’t think about the problems of running electricity outside, storage, or the annual disentangling of the wires. As anyone who’s ever dealt with them knows that strings of Christmas lights get bored sitting in the attic eleven months of the year and amuse themselves by seeing just how tangled they can get. Either that or they’re mating, a prospect I find highly unlikely because I’ve never known Christmas lights to increase in number. Or maybe they’re wrestling, which is why one bulb is always knocked out, but that’s another story.

Anyway, my parents did finally get some outdoor Christmas lights and strung them up around a couple of holly bushes on either side of the house. It was subdued and tasteful, which is probably just as well since we lived on a cul-de-sac. And I realized something about Christmas lights: they’re not that interesting from inside the house. People passing by might see them and smile but if they’re your lights chances are the only times you’ll notice them are when you put them up and take them down. The neighbors, on the other hand, might see your lights all the time.

At about the same time some friends of my parents who lived on another cul-de-sac had a neighbor who put up what was, even for the ’80’s, a garish and extravagant amount of decorations. There were at least nine Santas–three of which were on the roof and threatening to collide, elves, giant candles, light-up snowmen, and lights, lights, lights over everything. It was on the news–and was noted for being one of three such displays around the city–and caused traffic jams as people came from all over to gawk. Did the guy who lived in the house care? Did he even notice? After all he was in the house.

One year I lived in a house next door to someone who set up an elaborate Christmas display. I have to give the neighbor credit: it wasn’t gaudy or tasteless. It was, in fact, a matched set of trains and candy canes and snowmen and a jolly Santa, all made out of blinking LEDs. About seven-hundred million of them, which was the problem. It was so bright I swear I could hear the damn thing–it sounded like The Magic Roundabout theme. I’m pretty sure it used up more electricity than the state of Wyoming. He left it on all night long, and my room faced his house. When I went to bed and closed the curtains the light burned through and looked like flickering flames.

All of which makes me wonder: Was the Grinch born that way or was he made?

 

 

8 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    Reminds me of Monty Python’s Michaelangelo and the Pope–27 disciples and 3 Jesuses?!!!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes! That was brilliant and every time I listen to it I wish Michelangelo had painted The Last Supper. Or The Penultimate Supper. He still should have left out the Jell-O, though. I hate Jell-O.

      Reply
  2. Gilly Maddison

    An excellent point about Christmas lights! Never thought of it like that. I love seeing other people’s lights, the more extravagant the better! But we don’t even put a tree up inside our house. I hate Christmas and participate in it on the most minor way I can get away with. It’s getting harder to be the grinch with more grandchildren coming along each year but we are quite good at laying low. To me it’s the most cynical money making machine ever invented, or at least, that is what it has evolved into now. But I still get a kick out of seeing houses done up to look like Piccadilly Circus! Who the hec has the time, the money and the inclination to put them up, take them down and store them, never mind the expense of BUYING all that crap. I really detest the commercial manipulation of emotions and I hate the fact that people go into massive debt to play the Christmas game. It’s the cleverest marketing tool ever invented. Time for bed said Zebedee. 😍

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I also like seeing people’s houses done up in lights. One year my next door neighbor put up a string of blue lights on her mailbox (I guess you’d call it a post box) and it was very nice and then she just left it there year-round, which I liked just as well. Granted I do think the lights originated as a solstice thing, and also possibly Hanukkah, so I like to think of holiday lights as the ultimate symbol of unity.
      The other conspicuous consumption surrounding Christmas, though, I can do without.

      Reply
  3. Arionis

    Did you get a “sun” burn while sleeping?

    Last year I went the lazy route and bought one of those laser light showers for our outdoor decorations. Only thing is, there is a bright street light right in front of our house that pretty much drowned it all out. This year it was back to the tangled lights and that one elusive burned out bulb.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s a shame because those laser light shows really are cool. I’ve never thought of them as the lazy route because they’re pretty amazing to watch. Can’t beat the old classics, though, much as you might like to beat the tangled strings.
      And I didn’t get a “sun” burn but now you’ve got me wondering if those sun lamps used by people with seasonal affective disorder can cause a burn.

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    My profile on OkCupid (the online dating site) had a line about the great mysteries in life, which included how Christmas lights appeared on houses without my ever seeing anybody putting them up. Since then, I’ve seen people putting up Christmas lights like Michael, whom I met through OkCupid. Even though they’re no longer quite as mysterious, the lights are still fascinating to me and so is this post, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s fascinating to me that Michael puts up the Christmas lights. There’s no mystery to his many talents. I hope the lights are especially nice on your new house by the water.

      Reply

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