Twinkle Twinkle

Posted: 9 December 2009 in observations
Tags: , , ,

I’ve never lived in a house of my own.  I’ve never lived in an actual house as an adult and I had no idea there was such baggage attached.  No, it isn’t the responsibility of the mortgage payment.  It’s not changing the air filters or mowing the lawn.  It isn’t getting to walk around naked with all the blinds open and then remembering you have nosy neighbors.

No one told me about the pressure around the holidays.

People, I thought the excessive stars and stripes on July 4th were over the top.  First one house, then another and soon practically every brick ranch had a flag streaming in the wind.  Shiny ones and heavy cloth ones.  Big ones and ones with satiny gold trim.  Some houses even took the extra step to jam into the ground some sort of cartoony independence day flag with fireworks emblazoned on it.  I didn’t see it as a competition then, oh no.  Just a friendly little (okay, big) show of spirited decor.  Ho, ho!  We’re all such patriotic pals!

That was this summer.  Now, it’s a whole new ball game and it’s an all-stars invitational.

First, I saw a few single candle lights appear in a few, isolated windows.  How cute, I thought.  How very Virginian.  Then it snowed.  Oh, it was beautiful.  Trees popped up in warm, glowing living rooms.  Decorations sparkled and tiny lights twinkled from deep inside evergreen bows.  We were with them.  Our tree is evergreen (because it’s plastic) and a weird assortment of sentimental ornaments jangle on the branches.  In our neighborhood, I suspect the trappings of religion are tucked away behind the shower of lights but the outward focus is less religion and more padding the pockets of the electric company.  I’m sorry, I mean celebration of the season.

Lest I sound like a grinch, I’ll reveal that I grew up in a decorated house.  My father put his light-based spirit on the outside and my mother spewed crazy on the inside.  No surprise there.  So we had strings of lights on the eaves with big, fat colored bulbs.  And that was it.  My father was more interested in using our limited cash for presents than lighting up the neighborhood.  I’ll admit I was jealous of the sparkling string of blue lights across the street, the fake snowman on the lawn down the way and the blinking extravaganza next-door that lit my bedroom like sunshine.

I didn’t realize the pressure he was under.  Every night, D and I drive home and there are more light displays.  Just tonight there were four new nets of lights draped over round bushes.  Red velvet bows are casting shadows on boughs of green wound around stairwell banisters and wreaths tacked on front doors.  There is our dark house, sitting quietly amid the commotion.  Like my father, we weighed our options and sided with the minimum.  A tree makes my wife happy and gives off enough heat that I can lower the heat a few more degrees.  I’m kidding!  Sort of…

Is it like this in your neighborhood?  Is there a burgeoning sense of guilt as the neighbors dip their properties into sparkles, lights and inflatable santas patting white wire deer?  I know you’ve seen those deer.  This isn’t the sort of neighborhood you’d drive through just to see the lights, but it has its fair share of people who wished they lived there.  I’m glad they don’t though.  Because here, I can make sure they stand out.

  1. Jim says:

    The beauty of living in a TDY rental is that there is no obligation to decorate. I could probably do with a string of lights or two, but everything feels so temporary. I think I’ll focus on buying a pan that can go in the oven first.

  2. meloukhia says:

    I am the Grinch of Stewart Street. The only house without a single Christmas decoration. And I’m pretty much ok with it, honestly. Other sorts of social pressures bother me, but for some reason I’ve never felt guilty about my lack of rampant displays of electricity…

  3. Our neighborhood is a mix of yards full of inflatable santas and snowglobes, red ribbons, wooden stockings and enough twinkle lights to cause a seizure and houses where there isn’t so much as a single paper snowflake. Ours falls somewhere in the middle, much to my daughter’s disappointment. She’s definitely a more is better girl. I’m more of a bah humbug about it. It’s just more stuff to have to clean up later.

  4. Arcturus says:

    There’s not much in our neighborhood, but then, we’re out on the far reaches of the metro area, where it’s technically “suburban” but we have to drive past real farms to get to a major two-lane highway. Our house can’t even be seen from the road, so there’s not much pressure to decorate. We have a couple strings of LED lights in our front window and on the tree (I calculated that it would cost us 50 cents per string to leave them on ALL MONTH, so it doesn’t feel like a conspicuous waste of electricity) and five giant bulbs that we put on a tree in our driveway. And of course, there are stockings above the stove. That’s about it until we have kids old enough to insist upon having more. Even then, I think the big plastic lit lawn decorations are tacky. But I would probably go for home-made paper snowflakes.

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