Christmas Lights

Starting around Thanksgiving, families in the US start putting up their Christmas decorations.  The Thanksgiving dinner has been consumed.  The sun sets and the Christmas enthusiasts flip their collective switches and turn on their lights.  The Thanksgiving Parade early in the day is the official sign that you may now flip on your lights without fear of your neighbors displeasure.  The parade ends with Santa ushering in the Christmas season.

Well, I'm a bit of a grinch when it comes to outdoor holiday decorations.  My husband and I have now had the odd luck to live in two homes in two different parts of our state which just happen to have an insane level of holiday cheer on display.  In both cases, we moved in during the summer only to discover that our neighbors clearly graduated from the Griswold School of Home Decor.  I have little tolerance for lines of cars slowly creeping down our street as families stare at the various light displays others put up.

Last night, as I turned onto my street, I realized the looky-loos have arrived for the season.  It was a Thursday night and cars were creeping along, stopping for long moments in front of each lit up house.  Many will leave their lights on all night.  Some, will turn off half of their lights about 10 pm and the rest sometimes go out sometime after 1am.

Two immediate neighbors after half of their lights are out for the night

As much as the Christmas tourists annoy me, I know they enjoy it.  I remember many times that we would get excited at the prospect of seeing the lights around town.  We'd jump in the car and drive to the Country Club area, Old Town or another neighborhood which was known for good light displays.  Mom would sometimes just pick a street at random and say "Let's see what's down here."  Many miles were put on her car as we drove around town.  I remember those drives as being quiet and happy times.  We were too busy looking at the lights to squabble.  We loved it.

While she doesn't like being out at night, Lyn still has that love of the Christmas lights.  She's visited here and walked down my street, enjoying the displays my neighbors have put up.  She's pointed out familiar characters like Rudolph, Snoopy or Frosty the Snowman with delight.  She's the exact type of person my neighbors are hoping to please with their efforts.  She appreciates the work they have put into stringing their trees with lights, festooning their lawns with dioramas, installing a Christmas tree on their roof and driving their electric bill into the $1,000+ range for the month.  (No joke.)

As for me, I'll grumble every time I find people blocking my driveway and at each tour bus that rumbles past my house.  I'll grouse about school nights and kids needing to be home instead of rolling past my door at 10pm on a Tuesday. (I don't gripe about that on non-school nights.  I'm not a total ogre.)  Most of all, when the time comes that we move to a different house, I'll make sure we don't end up in another neighborhood where you need room darkening shades because your neighbor puts enough lights on his house that you can read the newspaper in your room with all your lights off.

Until then, I'll hopefully realize that 30 people milling in my driveway are caroling before I yell at them to move so I can park.


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