Slightly Off Center

Light Up the Season

By Dennis Hinkamp

If Utah and most of the rest of the country is going to continue this Sisyphean cycle of Daylight Saving/Losing fake time travel, I’m going to rebrand the last day of said cycle as the first day of holiday lights. There is no war on Christmas on my part, The more festivity the better. There’s no need for labels. If you want to give it parameters, it can stretch from Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day. Just stick with twinkly lights of neutral colors and the holidays can blend into each other.   

Lengthy Fall and Winter festivity is also a good counter to those two July weeks of blowing stuff up that Utah insists on perpetuating. I get Fourth of July, but did the Pioneers really unload their hand carts and wagons and start celebrating by shooting explosive things into the air?     

Inflatables add a new weapon to the neighborhood festive décor contest. They are big, but not blindingly bright. They take up a lot of space when inflated, but when airless store easily for the off season. You do need to master the skill of inflation management lest you lose your giant snowman and reindeer to canyon winds or heavy snow. Most people deflate them at night and it’s fun to see the sad puddles of rip-stop nylon in the front yards during my pre-sunrise dog walks.   

Additional festive tools include light projectors that save you the risk and thrills of clinging to icy ladders while trying to do tricky maneuvers with fumbling mitten-covered fingers. I occasionally get Facebook-shamed for mentioning these projectors because, if not aimed properly, they may reduce the darkness of the skies or cause migratory birds to veer off course. If you want to Google “Are Christmas lights bad?” you can decide for yourself. We all do little bad things, you just have to decide which ones are worth it. In the battle of research articles, one claims that people who put up lights early are happier and more friendly; who couldn’t use a little more of that? You are just going to have to judge your own frown to smile ratio in your individual community.   

I do remember the frowns during the height of the energy crisis when there was some shaming because of the frivolous power use. The new LED lights however hardly use a trickle. Your carbon footprint is barely one small toe with these. Is the whole process unnecessary and thus wasteful? Does bacon contain too much salt and fat? Are politics divisive? Sometimes you have to do things in moderation that make you happy. I think we should get a reward for hunkering down for 18 months of near mirthless sequestration.  

Though I love strings of lights, untangling then every year takes some of the joy that would spring from decking the halls. The process tends to make me want to just leave them up all year. But what fun would that be? I look forward to marking the seasons by the book ends of untangling Christmas lights and garden hoses. You don’t have to go full Grizwald (“National Lampoon Christmas Vacation” reference for those who have not watched it 100 times already). The movie explains everything you need to know about holiday expectations and excesses. I will stick with “moderation in all things including moderation.” The only exception might be holiday music; that for sure should be limited to maybe 48 hours a year.   


Dennis Hinkamp got his lights before you.  

This article was originally published on December 3, 2021.