The holiday decorator

Holiday lights bring a festival feel to all the towns. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

My Christmas lights stay up all year long, or do they? It’s all in the name. Those little white lights surrounding my porch are fairy/twinkle lights in the summer. The same innocent string of white bulbs is part of the holiday spirit the day after Thanksgiving. For me, the pressure has been lifted by the simple rebranding of a string of lights. I admire people who transition between holiday house decorations seamlessly. I understand wanting to enjoy any festive season as long as possible. Winters are long here.

I am more the “throw a few bows around” type of holiday decorator. Blow-up animals, yard displays and flashing strobe lights are the places I visit during winter. Those houses are whimsical and fun. I used to feel competitive, trying to keep up with the Kringles. I thought I wasn’t entirely up to parenting if my children asked me why our house didn’t shine and glow like a friend or neighbor’s house.

I also realize it’s my taste. I like things a bit more old-fashioned. I’d be roasting chestnuts on an open fire if I had a fireplace. I’m not quite Victorian because I like electricity. I’d also be completely fine with returning my mother’s holiday traditions, as she was grateful for an orange and a pair of knit socks for gifts when she was growing up. The simplistic gift holiday is merely financial, not a yearning to live during the Depression.

It took me quite a few years to ignore the pressure, imagined or real, from neighbors and friends to keep my exterior decorating up to date with the seasons. Years ago, a neighbor stopped by to let me know I had a light bulb out, causing one strand of lights to go dark. I know she was just being kind, but I walked away thinking she Grinched me. When will she be back to stuff my tree up the nonexistent chimney? (These are internal thoughts, people. She just wanted to be helpful. My oversensitive reaction only lasted a moment.)

To celebrate winter, I’ll start driving around neighborhoods admiring all the various displays. If you see a van parked outside your house, please don’t be alarmed. I’m only admiring the lights. My holiday tree sits in a field, waiting for me to claim it. I’ll get there. I’m just busy making sure my porch Christmas lights aren’t missing any bulbs.


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