Christmas Decorations & Dirty Laundry

Christmas can be a lovely time of family time, lights and magic.  It can also be a time of shopping chaos, stress on the budget and waistline, and questionable decorative choices.  On the latter point, call me a conservative.

For a case study in decorative style, one only need drive towards one of the shopping areas strategically places within minutes of home.  You’d see a serious commitment to keeping Unitil shareholders happy with tens of thousands of Christmas lights on display in some yards.  There’s a warm glow that emanates off these homes as endless white lights outline the architectural details of the house and blanket the shrubbery.  Some of these home owners opt for moving fake reindeer or blinking lights to animate the scene and driving up the electric bill.  I honor the massive construction effort and CapEx that these homeowners invested in the holidays.

Other homes opt for the easy way out, simply sticking a projector out in the yard that shines lasers in green and red at the house, making it appear to be wrapped in an envelop of dazzling electronic bliss. Others double down on this projector trend by introducing floating light displays of snow and God knows what.  The Baby Jesus would be truly… humbled to see this celebration in His honor.  The projector homeowner wants to celebrate Christmas, but without the hassle of doing too much.

A natural ally to the projector crowd is the inflatables.  Indeed, often you’ll see them coexist together in the wild cu-du-sacs of suburbia.  The inflatables are like holiday chameleons, rapidly popping up Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas-themed characters in rapid succession.  No longer are the inflatables limited to Santa Claus and Rudolph.  No, today you can blow up just about any character in popular culture, and just put a Santa hat on their head or a Christmas present in their claws and you have the perfect addition to your front yard holiday celebration!

Tragically, this holiday fantasy only comes alive at night.  During the daylight, when everyone is actually looking at your yard, these inflatables appear flaccid sacks of dirty laundry scattered across frozen lawns and restrained from escaping with extension cords and tent stakes.  Inflatables yards are like the morning after a big boozy party staring back at you in the mirror day after hung over day.

The neighbor of the inflatable is inevitably the dignified wreathes on the windows and doors decorator.  This champion of restraint meticulously sets ribbons and bows amongst the greenery and sets white spotlights to illuminate the house to highlight just how lovely their holidays are going to be.  The wreath and garland homeowner never uses blinking lights, and the music is classic Bing Crosby era, thank you.

My house is an exercise in simplicity.  Neighbors put white lights on the trees and shrubs out front?  I string colored lights through the trees out front.  And thats where I stop.  Nothing on the shrubs lining the front of the house, no spotlight on the wreath on the front door.  Sure there are candles in the windows and the white lights on the Christmas tree peak through one of the living room windows.  I’m doing my part without trying too hard.  The neighbors must shake their heads as they drive by.

In New England, we inevitably have a snowstorm and a deep freeze right around the holidays that will cement this display to our lawns until the spring thaw.  So even if you are sad to see the lights turned off, you can take comfort in the fact that they’ll still be attached to the house and shrubs for months to come.  That’s the kind of holiday cheer that stays with you long after your New Year’s Resolutions are broken.