From the Trunk: What’s with those Christmas lights?
Edited to add: If you are my neighbor, I enjoy and appreciate everything you do to make our neighborhood bright and fun, especially the Sneeds on the corner who have the electronic caroling Christmas Tree, which is a yearly joy to me.
I live in a low-rent neighborhood in a high-end suburb. It shows in our Christmas lights, with holiday choochoo trains on the rooftops and candy canes making fences all up and down the lane. Other displays are so sad, I wonder why anyone bothers.
(This might be a slight exaggeration.)
Others are masses of bad taste. Tangles of Christmas lights hang from every eave and gutter. Yard after yard features inflated nylon Christmas figures, giant Santas and polar bears and occasionally a ScoobyDoo or the like. During the day, these lay in collapsed nylon heaps all over the neighborhood’s lawns. In the evening they billow and teeter, grinning and undulating and making me wish for a BB gun.
Bad taste abounding
My neighborhood can proudly claim the title of ”Most Lame Christmas Lights in the greater Portland Metro area.” People who are new to the neighborhood usually start out lighting their houses in a tasteful, restrained fashion, with crisp rows of white lights running along the gutters and a pleasing bounty of colored lights on the rhododendrons. Maybe a lighted wreath over the garage door. Here’s a beautifully lit home, in my opinion.
Not actually in my neighborhood, but you get the idea of what I admire
But there’s some kind of taste drain at work here, so in a couple of years, their houses have gone native–green and red alternating lights on the house instead of white, odd bell-things made of lights showing up in the peaks of the dormers. Then those white lighted reindeer skeletons start cropping the grass and …
Must you, neighbor? Must you?
It’s all over.
We have the standard offenses–the previously mentioned reindeer that look like illuminated reindeer skeletons, big lit crosses, the spiral trees that make me kind of dizzy to look at, the excessive use of hanging icicle lights, those weird light nets that you can put over a bush or a tree if you want it to look like it’s been covered in an illuminated fishnet. But we have some extra-special stuff that I only seem to see around here. Year after year. Honed to an illuminated art form, these displays.
First, there’s the Trunk Wrap. The Trunk Wrap is when lights are tightly wrapped around the trunk of a tree. In an ideal world, the trunk is wrapped, and then the branches, and then a bunch of colorful lights are hung randomly where the leaves of the tree used to be. That’s very pretty. In our neighborhood, homeowners either run out of energy or lights or both, and so the wrapping goes partly up the trunk and then Joe Suburb says ‘fuckit.’ This results in a bunch of short, lighted trunks with no branches, like all the trees were blasted off in the middle.
We also have a lot of the Hedge Drippers. This is when someone drapes colored lights up and down and up and down on a hedge or a bank of arborvitae, somewhat in the manner of how I put mustard on a hotdog when I have a squeeze bottle and I want to be fancy. It looks terrible. Especially when it forms the backdrop for a bunch of Trunk Wrapped trees.
This year, we have, of course, the newest lighting craze; a laser projector that shines dancing little squares of lights and eerie floating Christmas tree decorations onto the sides of home and garages. There is one across the street, and it’s always on at 7 AM, when I stand in the dark waiting for T to pick me up and take me downtown. I stand there and watch, compelled and hypnotized, wondering if I would have liked this thirty years ago, when I was new here, back when I was so painfully excited by any holiday displays.
I do admire people who do something unique, like the peace sign wreaths that are popping up around here. My parents made one in 1971, so it’s not exactly a new idea, but it’s a nice one. My favorite guy in the neighborhood throws all his white plastic deck chairs up on top of one of his trees and drapes them with a bunch of lights. I have no idea why or how he does this. All I know is, every year there’s a big tangle of white plastic chairs and Christmas lights at the top of his oak trees.
So I hope you’re all lit up and ready for the holiday. And it’s pretty.