Thursday, December 08, 2005
Light Peer Pressure
We were out of town either visiting relatives or stalking sitcom actors most of Thanksgiving weekend, so we were a little taken aback to come home Sunday night to find three of the units in our townhouse group already had Christmas lights up. And like the gap in a redneck’s smile, our plain unlit house sat in the middle of them.
We had been rather Grinch–like the past two Christmases because we were traveling over the holidays and didn’t want the hassle of putting up and taking down decorations when we wouldn’t be around to enjoy them. Last year my son just duct-taped off a corner of the living room as the “tree” so we would have a place to put the presents for him to rattle.
The peer pressure got to me, so on the next Saturday, in near freezing weather, I dragged out the box of lights and started hanging. Fortunately, there is not much that needs to be done to light the front of a townhouse. I hung icicle lights from the bay window over the garage and put rope light through the railings and around the front door.
Since it’s not Christmas without spending money, my wife bought two strings of very fancy holly lights that use small red bulbs for the holly berries. Each box had two spare bulbs and when we got the lights on the railings, there were five dead lights already. Rather than hunt down spare bulbs, we found, on sale, a string of 70 lights that use the exact same bulb. We now have a lifetime supply of spare red pearl lights in case anyone needs some.
When we threw the switch my newest neighbor came out and congratulated me on getting with the spirit. He’s a little gung-ho and I was glad my lights met with his approval. In the picture, his house is on the right and has two moving reindeer and a “pond” of blue lights in his front yard. The neighbor with the end unit adds something every year and is now up to a reindeer-drawn sleigh, a lighted angel, and an inflatable Santa. I’m happy just to stick in the middle and not try to keep up with the Griswolds.
I call our little group of houses “mini-Hampden” after the Baltimore rowhouse neighborhood that goes completely bat-crap beserk with decorations every year. Baltimore Diary has a good post about the Hampden phenomena and there are plenty of pictures on Flickr of this block long extravaganza. The pictures cannot possibly do justice to this garish yearly phenomena.
So, how many lights are too many lights? And how early should decorations go up? Jumping up after Thanksgiving dinner to hang lights strikes me as too soon, but with all that peer pressure around me I knew I had better get with the program and set my house aglow ASAP.