Sunday, June 29, 2008

Christmas Light Intervention

(Repost...originally written & posted on Myspace on date listed below)
Thursday, January 11, 2007

Christmas Light Intervention

Today is Thursday, January 11th. Let me make myself very clear on that....TODAY is Thursday JANUARY 11TH. It is January 11th and my best friend's neighbors still have their Christmas lights on. Nearly three full weeks since Christmas and they still have their Christmas lights on. Not just up, mind you, but ON.

Every Tuesday is "Chick-Flick" night with my girls, Cyndi & Brandy. We meet at Cyndi's ( because she has the most kids and it's just easier for her than loading up all the kids and the baby toys and what have you) drink coffee (or have the occasional glass of wine or two) and watch a chick-flick. We put the older children in charge of the younger ones and (attempt to) enjoy a relaxing evening and just decompress. We share our troubles and a pot of coffee or two, planning each others lives, all the while some sappy-sweet romantic comedy provides background noise. I look forward to Tuesdays all week long.

I was in particularly good mood this past Tuesday, because the evening was to be the beginning to a much needed vacation. I sang along with the radio as I made my way to Cyndi's, but as I approached her neighborhood, something caught my eye. It was bright and colorful. The closer I got, the more of it there seemed to be. I could not believe my eyes....Christmas Lights! Blazing into the night sky, two full weeks AFTER Christmas! I mean I understand not finding the time yet to take them down, but having them ON is another story entirely.

What kind of people are still BURNING their Christmas lights this long after Christmas? Do they know we are nearly two weeks into January?!

Do they want to be the source of conversation around the neighborhood? "Well you know those Joneses, still burning their Christmas lights..."Yes, I know there's that whole St. Lucia and Twelveth Night celebrations, but this is Alabama...Buckle of the Bible Belt, Protestant capital of the South.

Some of you may think, "Okay, so what's the big deal?" As a Christian, I understand the concept of holding Christmas in my heart all year long, but I don't have to wrap it in multi-colored twinkle lights! The big deal is, this is not the neighborhood Mexican restaurant, which I believe, is the only place it's legal to display & operate Christmas lights outside the month of December. Come on people, rural Alabama has enough stereotypical crap to overcome, let's not perpetuate it!

When Alabama is depicted in a film or t.v. show, you never see the tony areas like Mountain Brook or Vestavia or Hoover. Oh, MTV did come film the Hoover Bucs for the wildly popular "Two A Days" but did they ever once go to the Galleria or the Summit? I think they showed WalMart once and they guys going fishing, but never showed the multimillion dollar shopping complex just up the road from the school. You always see some ramshackle house with a malfunctioning major appliance on the porch and Christmas lights strung all about.

It's bad enough we are currently having to live down the "Bama Kissing Bandit," a one Collette Connell, who loudly praised Jesus for Alabama's new coach, Nick Saban, and then reached out and planted a big wet one on him, in plain view of all national sports media. The photo made the front page of sports sections across the nation, accompanied by her mugshot from the subsequent DUI arrest soon after.

I call it the classic "trailer park tradgedy" media spin. A tornado wipes out hundreds of homes, who does the media seek out? The most articulate or the most dentally-challenged? The person who lost at $300,000 home or the person who lost a $3,000 single wide? This is the person CNN chooses to represent us to the rest of the nation. Everytime.

At this time, let me take a moment to restate for the record, I am an Auburn fan. And now I'm even more glad that I am. But I digress.

Where was I??

Oh, yeah, Christmas lights...

The neighborhood Cyndi lives in has several champion light displays. The two most impressive are the house in the woods and Mr & Mrs Notary Public.

The house in the woods is just that...a house far enough off the road, enveloped in a pine thicket , that it is completely invisible. Invisible that is, until the weekend after Thanksgiving and the entire month of December. During this time, it looks like an extension of the Birmingham International Airport. This home owner pulls out all the stops, covering every inch of the house, windows,eaves, and all, completely outlining the house in lights. The lights spill over into every adjacent bush and tree for a 50 foot radius. I will never forget that first Christmas that we went to Cyndi's new house and my daughter said, "I've lived in this town my whole life and I never knew there was a house back there!"

Mr & Mrs Notary Public (so named for the large "Notary Public" sign hanging above their mailbox) have the most impressive collection of lawn ornamentation year round. I am quite sure they own one of every type of concrete staturary possible. Then, at Christmas time, they throw lights all over them. You can see the house from space. I'm not sure it's possible, but each year it seems they add more and more lights!

But I will give both of these families credit: they know when it's time to take the lights down.

I was raised believing that it was bad luck to have Christmas decorations up on New Year's Day. I think that perhaps that was really my mother's way of making us help her take them down the weekend before we went back to school. But because I've heard this all my life, I've never questioned or disputed it. I am also a little afraid to tempt fate and leave my Christmas decorations up, just like I am afraid not to eat the traditional blackeyed peas and turnip greens with ham.

I was also taught it is bad luck to do laundry on New Year's Day, but that one seems perfectly logical, so I will not debate it. I've never been told what may actually happen, but it must be truly awful for my mother to remind me of it every year. I have caught myself, on more than one New Year's Eve, franically washing clothes prior to leaving for some event, for fear I would either be naked or face some horrid fate for washing clothes on New Year's Day. Were my brother and I the only people on the planet to be taught this lore? Apparenlty so, if there are people who are still displaying their Christmas lights three weeks after Christmas.

I told Cyndi and Brandy that there needed to be a Christmas light intervention.We should knock on the door, present this individual with a current calendar, pointing out that Christmas has past some time ago and offer to help take the lights down.

"Well you go right to it Sunshine," Cyndi chirped "but watch out for the couch and the washing machine on the porch. And if you hear banjo"

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