Thursday, December 6, 2012

They're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace.

Our family doesn't have many Christmas traditions. There's a three-fold reason for this:
1. we do not live close to our extended families and so are free of familial obligations,
2. we are too pragmatic to be nostalgic, and
3. we generally can't recall what we did the previous Christmas.

The one constant that we have in our household is the annual Tense Discussion About Christmas Lights.

From last year's posts it should be apparent that I have eclectic taste when it comes to Christmas decor. I like kitschy, sparkly things as much as the next person. But only inside my house. I prefer understated outdoor decoration. Ideally we'd hang a few ornaments in the front window and put a single spray of foliage by the door with a nice red ribbon. However, my husband likes his Christmas lights. If you are going to get up on a ladder and do work on the house do something more permanent -- like fixing the bathroom fan!, I have whinged at him more than once. Then hidden the ladder and the lights.  Me behaving like an asshole is another tradition.

• • • • • • • • • • •

Here's how I assess your Christmas lights (the lower the number the better):

Lights that flash: +120 points

Different strands of lights that flash at different rates: +220 points/string and +1340 points/every epileptic fit induced by your light display

All lights are a single colour: +20 points/string

The entire colour spectrum is represented, BUT it's apparent you had a particular design goal or made a conscious plan beforehand: +30 points/string

Inflatable character: +75 points/character

Inflatable characters are turned off and slumped on the ground as if Santa brought the gift of the Rapture to all the good boys and girls: +175 points/character

Inflatable character is a snow globe and the character is obscured by frost inside the bubble: +15 points/snow globe (but only because I am taking pity on you as a denizen of a cold climate)

Icicle lights: +25 points/string

Icicle lights that were purchased in 1997 and have never been taken down because they're such a pain to store: +754 points/every neighbour who hates you

Lights are strung over the palings of a fence: +5 points (I love this look)

Home-made plywood cut outs of trademarked cartoon characters: +15 points/character

Home-made plywood cut outs of trademarked cartoon characters that are done so poorly it looks like they are suffering from Bell's Palsy: +167 points/character

Light display consists of a few sad net lights strewn on shrubbery: +50 points (WHY BOTHER!?)

Lights are strung casually and asymmetrically on lower branches of a tree and you obviously are only doing it so the neighbours don't assume you are a Jehovah's Witness: +50 points and a BONUS of 8 editions of The Watchtower 

Lights are shaped like the Enterprise: +1 point

• • • • • • • • •

How did you do? Let me know your score. I enjoy judging people. Obviously.


  1. I have an evergreen garland on my front stair railing, with multi-coloured non-flashing lights wound around it. A potted evergreen tree with white lights on either side of my front door. Oh, and two giant plastic Noel candles because they are retro & kitschy and horrible. :)

    One of my neighbours, though, has EVERY SINGLE THING on your list except for the Enterprise. You can see their yard from space. Even my kids think it's too much.

  2. I get zero points. Because I married a cheapo. I would like a single strand of white lights around the edging of the roof, but I am sincerely doubting that ever.
    And this post made me laugh so hard I nearly gagged.
    The snow globe thing? SO FREAKING TRUE.

  3. Bell's Palsy. *snort*. I love Christmas lights. But only if they're tastefully done. My husband has done okay on our tree and hydrangea bush, but then he's got a blue string along our privacy screen and a blue and green spot light that I hate. Enh - it's marriage, we compromise. There's a tree at the end of our street that has about ten different-coloured strings of lights on it, all separately and unevenly distributed. It looks like someone dismembered a rainbow and stuck it on the tree.

  4. Target carries lighted pink flamingos in Santa hats for lawn decoration every year. I WANT TO PUT A FLOCK OF THEM IN MY FRONT YARD BUT EVERYBODY I HAVE EVER LIVED WITH SAYS NO. I think this is an excellent case for why I need to live by myself, as clearly my associates simply do not understand my superior tastes in Christmas decorations. Lighted reindeer pulling a sleigh? Screw that tacky cliche, we got mother fucking flamingos out here in the Rockies! It's like those loud Hawaiian shirts, if you're going to go tacky, you might as well go all out tacky once you get past the point of no return.

    1. I don't know who you are, but I have found my people.

  5. You only gave one point for shaped like the Enterprise?!

    I don't have a house and we only have two strands of white lights. So not well.

    But when I was younger, we had the flashy lights and I LOVED them.

  6. Zero Points!

    I generally find it to be very difficult to find the balance between Tasteful Minimalism and the Lame Ass Single String. I like to drive around and LOOK at Christmas lights, however I don't like to put them on my own house, mostly out of sheer laziness. It's a lot of work for 4 weeks.

    However. I am in a severe minority in my household and this is probably the last year I will be able to score a glorious Zero (or Zed, if you prefer). They have been badgering me for YEARS and I am running out of excuses.

  7. Well...I don't know how to add this up exactly. I have red and green lights along my eaves, all the way to the back of the house. Then I have a little fake tree in a pot that has white lights on it, by the front door. Also I have three wooden signs, one with a snowman saying "Let it snow" and two "Happy Holidays" ones that have Santa and a reindeer on them. They are stuck in my giant immovable flower pots. Then I have the following lighted animals: a moose, a deer, two penguins, and a hippo.

    I fee like I probably have a fairly high score.

  8. So far zero points because my husband HATES putting the lights on the house as it requires using a ladder, untangling the lights, and plenty of cursing (ok he probably doesn't mind that last one so much). However, we are soon to be a +30. We have a strand of colored lights that goes around the eves of the front of our house. I would probably prefer more lights because evidently I'm part bird and love shiny things. However, husband would probably prefer to drill out his own eye than deal with more lights outside, so one strand it is.

  9. Spot lights. I effing hate spot lights! They must count for at least +50 pts.

    I live in an apartment. No balconey, no lights in the windows. So, I personally rate in at 0, but I would love to do the lights are strung over the palings of a fence look. We used to do that on the balconey of the upper flat my family lived in when I was growing up. But, we had giant old school lights that had big red plastic bell-shaped shades. I loved them, at the time, but I was a kid and didn't know any better.

    Thinking of lights, I'm pretty sure my apartment building gets a high score, especially if you include the tacky electronic Christmas carol playing contraption in the lobby. IT GRATES MY NERVES EVERY TIME I'M WITHIN EARSHOT. Sadly, I have to go through the lobby everytime I come and go (sigh). They also have tonnes of mismatched lights and tacky decorations (mostly in the lobby, but they can be seen from outside thansk to floor-to-ceiling windows). It's a big contrast from all the posh condos around us who have tasteful pale white lights and hire people who can string a 20 foot evergreen properly from top to bottom.

  10. Excited to have a comment to type in this morning (every once in a while when I try, it's a no go). We've got lights. The Hubs loves lights. And I actually do too. We have no snow here and our street is festively lit, which makes it feel less like autumn around here. We've got one of those neighborhoods that people take a drive through because there are so many houses all lit up. We don't have any flashing (that could cause seizures! how dangerous!!) and no wooden characters. Those do freak me out a little.

  11. I am not sure how we score but we may not score too well. At first I was all smug---only 20 for the lights in a single color! But then I remembered we have a white-light festooned snowman in our lawn. And a row of small colored-light Christmas twigs---I can't call them trees b/c they are only about 18" tall and look like little sticks with arms. And I just ran out to buy live green swag to put around the door.

    Though thankfully, no inflatables! Cracked totally up over the snow globe comments.

  12. We scored about a million. We have multicoloured lights all over the porch, white icicle lights, lights on the trees, faux evergreens all over everything that can be faux-ed, and the following light up characters: gingerbread men, snowmen, santas, toy soldiers and something else that I am too lazy to check. We ALSO have a horrifying LED light thing that my MIL gave us and that the kids love so up it goes, a giant plastic Santa face FROM THE DOLLAR STORE and big red bows on everything. Good taste is for communists. You can see my house from SPACE.

    No inflatables, though, because they're creepy BUT Bill's grandpa has promised us his huge and dubiously-tasted plywood Christmas cut-out collection so we're going to be even MORE amazing.
    Signed, Santa's Little Helper

  13. I went and checked: the missing light ups were candy canes AND candles.

  14. Bill's also watching for those deer made out of Christmas lights to go on sale at canadian tire.

  15. Reading through these comments my only thought is: WHERE ARE YOU PEOPLE STORING ALL THIS CRAP FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR??!!