Ever since I started this blog there’s been a couple of Holiday posts I’ve wanted to write – some beer related, some not. But over the years I’ve never gotten around to them. So this year, since I still haven’t made my State Line Liquors Christmas beer run (woohoo! Today, baby!), I thought I’d cross one off the list. And this one is a tribute to my friend Donna who, in her own words, is the Christmas decoration code enforcer.
Just about everyone can be accused of being over critical of something. We all have that nagging pet peeve that, every time someone violates it, tosses us firmly into a royal tizzy. For reasons unknown (which seems right, after all do you really ever get to “pick” your pet peeve?), Donna has turned her critical eye to how people choose to decorate their houses and yards for the Christmas season.
The list started out very small. In fact, it started with only one violation on it. But over the years, as holiday decorating took some questionable turns in Donna’s mind as far as tradition and taste (and admittedly with the help of yours truly in the form of an occasional “have you seen this?”) the list has grown over many years to be a pretty comprehensive list of holiday infractions.
As you go down this list, don’t be upset if you see yourself represented in any of the items below. After all, I’m sure if any of you know her (or me) better, you’d be able to pick out something we do that rubs you the wrong way. So with that, here’s Donna’s list of holiday decorating infractions.
#1 NO BLUE LIGHTS
This is the commandment that started it all. The epicenter. The ground zero, if you will. When I first heard this I was a little taken aback, I like blue lights and hadn’t given it much thought. But the nexus of Donna’s holiday criticisms come from her neighbors who year after year would trot out blue lights on their house in a sea of houses decorated in more traditional “Christmas light colors”. To be honest, I’m not sure if her issue is specifically with blue, as over the years I’ve noticed that she herself isn’t much for traveling far up the spectrum from basic white, but blue seems to be the anointed whipping boy on the nanometer scale. Even someone’s comment that blue lights were in some way related to Chanukah could not soften her stance, and thus, the list was born.
RULE #2 IF YOU MUST HAVE BLUE LIGHTS MAKE SURE THEY ARE ALL THE SAME COLOR BLUE.
If you must break rule #1, then by all means at least have the lights be the same color blue. This actually goes for any colored lights, but since once again her neighbors helped her forge her holiday loathing of the color blue, their’s is the example that is given. After years of the aforementioned blue lights, some that had been replaced, some that had been left up longer than they should and thus had faded to a state of lesser blue, and some that had just been added to the display, the neighbor’s house was outlined in rows of lights that Donna stated, “covered everything from blue, to a color of blue that was so light that some of them could be mistaken as white.“ There’s nothing wrong with different color lights, but the colors and patterns apparently should be of a conscious choice and not the result of over exposure to the sun.
RULE #3 NO BLUE LIGHTS
Just like the old “Rule 1 the boss is always right, Rule 2 if the boss is wrong see rule 1” signs that hang at your local bar or convenience store, this list too, has that circular message that it’s trying to force home with “clever” repetition.
RULE #4 PLACING 50LBS OF POLYESTER AND NYLON ON YOUR FRONT LAWN DOES NOT CONSTITUTE “DECORATING”. IT CONSTITUTES LAWN CRAP.
Possibly in Donna’s mind the most cringe worthy decorating fad that has caught on over the years are the inflatables. Somewhere, someone decided that the next evolution of Holiday decorating should be a limp pile of synthetic material that every night comes to life to the whirling sound of electric fans. This in it of itself might not have been a totally bad idea, if human excess had not been allowed to climb to its usual exorbitant heights. Soon 6 foot snowman and proportionally sized Grinches were giving way to bigger and more mammoth monstrosities. A twenty foot Santa? No problem! Riding a Harley Davidson? Still no problem! A Rudolph twice the size of a Bumble? Yukon Cornelius would be proud! My personal favorite was my neighbor’s “snow globe”. After inflating the globe the fan blower was supposed to blow these little Styrofoam pellets around like the inside of a shaken snow globe. After a while, the inside of the globe would get wet, and what you’d have by the end of the night is a big globe with little white balls stuck on the front rendering the scene inside totally unviewable. Mercifully, one day a seam ripped on the globe, spewing white packing material all over my driveway and signalling the end of the snow globe era.
RULE #5 NO BLUE LIGHTS
This continues to be theme throughout the rules. But for the sake of word conservation, this will be the last time I mention it.
RULE #6 IT IS EITHER A FESTIVE HOLIDAY OR A RELIGIOUS ONE. HAVING THE FAKE PLASTIC SNOW MAN NEXT TO THE NATIVITY IS A NO-NO.
I actually believe this one was suggested by me. A guy down the street, who had a corner lot with essentially two nice size yards never seemed to grasp the concept that he could essentially break his Christmas decorations into two different displays. The festive side which would include a horribly weathered fake plastic snow man and an inflatable Santa’s toy shop; and the more spiritual side which could contain his holiday cross and his very nice (actually quite expensive looking ) nativity scene. No, instead the snowman was within arms reach of the creche as if he were standing in line behind the donkeys waiting to pay his respects to the new born King. As with most things, decorating is all about location, location, location.
RULE #7 NO WHERE IN THE BIBLE DOES IT SAY THAT THE THREE WISE MEN WERE ILLUMINATED BY LIGHT BULBS STUCK UP THEIR ASSES. LOOK IT UP.
As discussed above, Nativity senses are an excellent decoration for the Holidays, but if you’re going to put one up, especially a big one, make it nice with nicely painted figures, and thoughtfully placed accent lighting. Your three wise men nor anyone else should be molded, opaque plastic with weathered, chipped paint that is lighted by a bulb positioned somewhere in the rear. Donna realizes that these were the thing back in the day, but today better options are available.
RULE #9 TAKE A HINT FROM NATURE – TREES ARE GREEN, NOT SILVER – NOR DO THEY SPIN.
If you’re around my age, you probably have a sharp memory of someone in your family (most likely a grandfather who had long given up on Christmas and resigned himself to it being a holiday full of polo V-necks and tube socks) who had one of those silver trees (along with bubble lights, and those ornaments that would spin if you hung them over lights) complete with the lighted color wheel that sat on the floor next to it that made it festively change colors. Over the decades they’ve fallen out of use, although some people; either from a sense of nostalgia or no recollection of how dreadful they truly were, still buy them from vintage Christmas stores. According to Donna, fake trees are fine, but you should buy the best, most realistic one you can afford and since “realistic” is part of the goal, a silver one isn’t it. Oh, and resist the temptation of buying anything that makes your tree spin. The only thing that should spin on Christmas Eve is your Uncle Buddy, after about seven eggnogs.
RULE #10 IF YOUR IDEA OF CHRISTMAS DECORATING IS TO PLACE A FIGURE OF A NON CHRISTMAS PERSON (IE DARTH VADER OR HOMER SIMPSON) WITH A SANTA HAT ON YOUR LAWN, PLEASE PICK ANOTHER HOLIDAY.
This usually ties in with rule #4. Donna can understand some things like Mickey Mouse, or Snoopy (you know, kids stuff); but when I told her about the guy up the street from me who had an inflatable Homer Simpson holding a box of donuts and wearing a Santa hat, well this rule got solidified pretty quickly. Basically, some things lend themselves to Christmas, and some are simple money grabs hoping to take advantage of franchise fans that simply can’t resist themselves. Light up Yoda and Darth Vader with Santa hats? Why not, after all, everyone knows Santa’s village is really on the Ice Planet Hoth, not at the North Pole. We thought over the last couple of years that this trend may have been waning, until I grabbed this picture the other day at the local Home Depot. Donna was like, “oh no, this wins. It is just the worst.”
RULE #11 THE ‘NET’ IN NET LIGHTING DOES NOT MEAN IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE YOU PUT IT ON BY CASTING IT OUT OVER YOUR SHRUBS LIKE SOME OLD ITALIAN FISHERMAN. AND PLEASE, THEY SHOULD COVER THE WHOLE SHRUB, NOT JUST THE TOP THIRD.
Actually in the grand scheme of things, I think net lighting for shrubs is a pretty good idea. It covers a shrub evenly, and is very easy to apply. So Donna wonders why so many people get it wrong? A lot of times we see it haphazardly tossed onto bushes, or placed on bushes that are to big for the net that was purchased. You wouldn’t decorate the top half of your Christmas tree would you?
And that’s as the list stands now, but I’m sure in future years it will be added too. After all, in writing this post I’ve come up with a few more possible ideas that warrant consideration….