Tasteful Christmas Lights? Bah Humbug!
What we love and loathe about living in East Greenwich this week.
RAVE: It turns out that I needed to be at several of our public schools just days after the Newtown shooting massacre. What struck me almost immediately was that it was mostly business as usual. Obviously, the administrators and teachers were taking more stringent precautions, but in a way that did not make school – which is, after all, the place that our children spend most of their time, a place to fear or hate (at least no more than usual). In the midst of our fear and sadness, the ramped up safety drills and increased security measures, the moments of silence and the anxiety, it is easy to lose sight of the environment all parents ... all adults want to create for children: not just a world where you can go to school, to the mall, to a politician’s meet-and-greet and not worry that you may be killed, but a happy place where life, as the saying goes, is good.
I have friends who bemoan that we have to make our children aware of any threat at school at all, but I remind them that we also had emergency drills growing up – only then it was the cover-our-heads-under-the-desk practices we learned which would, of course, be all the protection we needed in the event of a nuclear bomb.
So thank you to our teachers, our principals, our custodial staff, our police force, our fire district, our town officials. You are all our children’s caretakers and we know that you take this responsibility seriously.
RANT: A friend of mine wanted me to rant about Christmas lights – specifically about people who leave theirs on all night, subsequently annoying their neighbors with their holiday cheer.
I said I couldn’t because the people in my neck of the woods are mostly considerate and either set their lights to a timer or turn them off before they go to sleep. But if you are one of those who are staying lit up 24/7, FYI – your neighbor may not be a happy camper.
That said, I do want to rant about Christmas lights (and they are Christmas and not holiday lights since no other religion puts lights up for decoration this time of the year). People, what is up with these tasteful displays of white twinkling lights and colonial candles?
It seems to me that if you are going to go to the effort of hanging lights, then you should go all out. I want a spectacular light show, set to the music of the Tran-Siberian Orchestra, featuring synchronized lighting, strobe lights, lasers, fog machines and 20-foot-high flames (this actually exists at a DJ’s house in NJ). I want a tacky extravaganza of inflatables, mechanical Santas and Rudolphs that pulsate to the mega-hit “Gangnam Style” (this one is in Texas and can be seen in the video above). I want power outages. OK, scratch that. But I do want Griswold.
According to the Tacky Light Tour (my people!), you have to have a minimum of 10,000 lights in your display to be included in their rounds. House Logic used one home in Delaware as an example to estimate the cost of lighting 1,000,000 bulbs (again, my people!) for a month straight can cost around $82,000 in electricity. Forget your elves and cookie kitsch or holly and spice – this is the stuff a committed Christmaser is made of.
When I first moved here, I had high hopes. After all, there was actually a cul de sac dubbed “Christmas Court” where every family – even those who didn’t observe the holiday – decked their home is layers of lights. But after that first year, I never found the place again. Maybe I just imagined it.
Nowadays I get my light jollies from the house on Wanton Shippee Road*. I really appreciate the effort these over-the-top decorators make since I know that it takes me an inordinate amount of time every year to unravel my measly five sets of lights to hang around my patio. The worst moment comes when I have finally strung them out, got them to drape just so, plug them in and ... nothing.
That said, I do not hold with the LED light trend. Don't get me wrong – I love the power savings and world cataclysm avoidance they represent. I just cannot get over how anemic and understated they are. It’s like a Jenny Craig before and after picture.
After all, don’t we all need a little extra jolly this time of the year?
*Editor's Note: It turns out that very house on Wanton Shippee – decorated by Stanley Marion – is in the finals in the Patch Deck the House contest. The winner earns $100,000 (yes, $100K!) for his/her town's schools. Click here to vote!