Lighting Up the Season


Long Island is again aglow as neighborhood houses, and downtown plazas take advantage of the early darkness by lighting their winter wonderlands.

Every year we start our holiday decorating earlier and earlier, and this year was no exception. We had barely digested Thanksgiving dinner on our drive home from Wantagh when we noticed the neighborhood was already beginning to brighten up the night. Homeowners most likely wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather.

Many homes were already adorned with traditional lights, strung carefully along the eaves of their roofs with alternating colors. Others opted for a single color scheme, like white or blue. There was a proliferation of “icicle” lights. Of course, a trip around the neighborhood also revealed blow-up figures, which have gained popularity in the last few years, replacing the plastic Santa and reindeer.

Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed traversing the neighborhood to see the different holiday displays. There were usually a handful of houses that were must-stops. As adults, we would bundle up the kids and head out to those first, then make our way back through the streets to ogle the others. Our kids would squeal with delight along with us. For the more dynamic displays, we would get out of the car and walk up to the properties to get a more detailed look.

Sometimes the displays were accompanied by piped-in Christmas music to enjoy. Today, the holiday lights on your home can be synchronized with music visitors can listen to on their car radio.

I learned the joys of decorating outside my house from my father. Lighting the bushes and trees was about as sophisticated as it got back then. We had a single, oversized light-up of Santa’s smiling face that would be prominently displayed on our front door. Even after we had grown and moved out of the house, my father continued to put out that Santa face.

We began accumulating holiday figures for our own home once we had children. Through the years, we amassed a stable of plastic figurines that included some small soldiers, oversized candles, a snowman, and, of course, a Santa in a sleigh with a few reindeer. Part of our display included a manger scene with Mary, Joseph, a few animals, and the baby Jesus, representing the spiritual side of the holiday.

It would take the better part of a weekend to get everything set up. After painstakingly checking each night-light-sized bulb inside the figurines, I had to stake everything into the ground. Despite my lack of knowledge in electrical engineering, I still had to ensure everything was connected properly and safely with extension cords and electrical tape leading to a single source so I could turn the lights on and off from inside the house.

After the connections were completed, I felt like Clark Griswold in the “Christmas Vacation” movie when it was time to turn the switch, hoping I got it right. Nothing was more embarrassing than gathering the family for the big reveal, only to reveal that you didn’t do it right.

My home would never win any awards, but the kids loved it, and Santa never missed our house.

Sometimes I envy those with the time (and money) to create the displays that draw people from miles around. I always wondered if people drove around the neighborhood and past my house saying, “Hey, that looks nice!”

Although all of those plastic figurines are long gone and my children are grown, will my will boys take the time to decorate their homes for their children?

I certainly hope so.

Well, dear readers, I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons and hope the New Year brings you and your family health and prosperity. I look forward to continuing our relationship and keeping you entertained with a smile on your face.

Take care, and we’ll get together again soon.

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