There's nothing really tasteful going on in my front yard right now. The sun has gone down, it's after Thanksgiving, and so that means the Holiday Magic has begun. I sit up here looking out the window, wondering just how many gallons of crude fossil fuel I am burning every hour with the display I insist on lighting up every night from the last week of November until we toss our old calendars into the recycling bin. If you listen carefully, you can hear the allosauruses squealing over the sound of sleigh bells jingling.
A lot of my hypocrisy is embedded deeply in my sense of tradition. The Cavens have a long and storied tradition of lighting up the winter nights. I can remember a number of evenings when the show outside combined with the lights on the tree would trip a circuit breaker, and we would all sit around in the dark for several minutes, trying to imagine what appliance we could do without in order to keep the twinkle lights from going dark again.
Still, I think there's something about living here in California that has made the obsession grow even stronger. I have a seven foot tall inflatable snowman on my front lawn. As a kid growing up in Colorado, we were a traditional big-bulb, single strand under the eaves family. Now that I'm in charge, I'm climbing up into trees, and experimenting with rope lights and four different extension cords. There really isn't much competition around. Our house is the most belighted in the entire neighborhood. In years past, there was a family that had a pair of those reindeer effigies, but it was hard to take them seriously, since they kept them on their roof year-round.
In another three hours, the show will be over for another night, and the people next door will be able to get some sleep - until tomorrow at sundown when the whole thing starts over again. In the words of the poet Dennis DeYoung:
Light up everybody
Join us in this celebration
Light up and be happy
Sweet, sweet sounds will fill the air