When it comes to decorating for Christmas, to each his own, but there is still definitely a happy medium between Griswold and Scrooge.
For some, getting into the holiday spirit means shouting from the rooftops of their elaborately lit homes, and for others, it's about sitting by the fire with a modestly decorated fir tree in the living room. Those who fail to set up their Christmas decorations before the snow shows for another overstayed welcome probably aren't the type to bathe their properties in lights, inflatables and slogans of merriment.
Just because their decorations are late to the party doesn't mean they are put up with any less spirit of the season. The mentality of the Clark Griswold is that the only way to truly celebrate something is to blow it up and celebrate with all the conviction one can muster. The perception is that if nobody else can see that you care more than they do, you can't win at Christmas.
Griswold operates on the belief that in order to make the holidays special, fun or successful, he needs to overcompensate on his Christmas cheer.
While driving in the country at night, it's always nice to find those few properties that are lit up like a Cheech and Chong movie, but you still have to wonder who has the time to set up all those decorations. The answer, of course, is farmers.
For those who aren't going to great lengths to show their enthusiasm for electric lights and red-green colour schemes, there are more subtle ways to show an interest in the season, if you have any interest in the fun of the holiday anyway.
There needs to be something decorative or holiday-like to really get in the mood. A house with yellowish incandescent lights over a coffee table with an empty pizza box on it is not very festive. Put out a life-size cardboard cutout of Santa Claus. I believe you can get them from Coca-Cola.
If trees aren't your thing, at the very least erect a Festivus pole. It's not extravagant but it's something. You can maybe even snap a branch off a tree and tie it in a loop for a makeshift wreath. Four feet of branch should be perfect.
However much you decorate, there are better ways than to scream to the rest of the neighbourhood, "LOOK HOW MUCH I LOVE CHRISTMAS!" I think that violates a noise bylaw.
Ah decorating, an issue to divide the masses.
I was raised to believe that holiday decorations consists of a Christmas tree set up the first weekend of December, a string of Christmas lights surrounding the house (not green), and a handful of decorations in the main rooms of the house.
I think that I will continue to enjoy Christmas this way for the rest of my life. Though I tend to be flighty and prone to changing my mind. This style, which I find tasteful, is comparably minimalistic next to a house with a full sleigh-and-reindeer display on the roof, even more so next to that house on youtube that co-ordinates a light show with holiday music.
So what is too much?
Let's begin with outside. In my opinion, if your energy bill requires a second mortgage to support it during the holidays, then you've probably crossed the line into "excessive" territory. And if your neighbours have been complaining about being unable to sleep because your front yard seems to be in constant daylight, then again, maybe too much. But if you've managed to walk that careful line between "holiday hater" and "Whoville," then I think you might be on to something.
I figure lights dangling from your eavestroughs, maybe a couple of lights in a tree and a few faux reindeer pretending to scavenge for grass on your lawn would look nice. I do ask that you keep your lights in complimentary colours, meaning no pink, orange and purple on one single tree. Also, if you care about my friend Brandon at all, you'll avoid blue lights, because he can't see them and it makes him a reckless driver during twinkle tours.
Inside your home, I like my mom's rule: Santas, elves, garlands and whatever can stay up until Boxing Day-ish, and then should be taken down. But snowmen and other ornaments of winter fun can stay up until you get sick of moving them to dust (or dusting around them, in my case). Your friends and family don't need to mistake your house for the North Pole. Plus, if you have pets or children age one to 17 (or my father when he's painting and off-balance) living at home, having lots of decorations set up for a month means having lots of broken decorations by the New Year.
Moral of the story: keep it tasteful. There's nothing wrong with loving the holidays and throwing a fake snow globe on your lawn. But people driving by should pause to admire your decorations, not require sunglasses to make it past without smoking into a parked vehicle.
© Copyright Estevan Mercury