|Grayson napping under the tree|
When we bought our first house in north Texas, I went out and bought strings of lights from the local box hardware store. Multicolored to start, but eventually, I wanted an all red theme. I would work each year to add another string to the run. I used to staple the lights to the eves of the house until one year when I stapled through one strand and shorted out the whole house. I have carried that tradition forward each year, adding one new string each year, but I have reached a certain limit around the house. Being an engineer at heart, I have even got a pattern for each string that goes up each year (left side, right side) so that I know which string goes up where. Was late getting them up this year, but when I do, it takes about 3-4 hours all told. I really have to question why I do it each year. I'm no longer the first one in the neighborhood, the kid is gone, momma is busy taking care of her folks, the dogs don't really care. Honestly, it wouldn't diminish the holidays if I didn't get them up, but somehow, it doesn't seem like Christmas to me without some lights around the hacienda.
We used to make an evening around looking at lights. One evening before Christmas, we would go out for dinner and then we would drive around looking at various Christmas lights. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there were whole subdivisions that decorated. Some subdivisions had traffic cops out and an hour queue to drive through the various streets. Down here, we have a few certain streets in our neighborhood that band together each year for the holiday decorations. We always made the trek over each year to view the lights. One house in particular that was a regular for us was Roller Coaster Santa. Not one of your run of the mill, store bought displays. The house had the same display year after year and it was a regular draw for us. It was a home made set up where the guy took up the entire front year with a roller coaster track and a quasi sleigh/car that made the circuit. It wasn't very fancy, but as an engineer, I had to admire the ingenuity. It had a chain driven lift that would take the one lone car from the bottom of the hill to the top of the peak and then let go a wild ride around the track. There was a Santa doll in the car that looked like a crash test dummy that suffered from whiplash. The route was simple, a 2.5 minute lift up the incline followed by a wildly careening ride around the track to wind up at the bottom again. I was amazed and somewhat envious of his set up. Cars would be stacked up for 20 minutes watching the ride. It is those kind of simple things that memories for the holiday.
I see that people are already taking down their lights around the neighborhood. I am debating pulling mine down this week but will probably wait until after New Years to do so. So, what's the unofficial ruling on how long to leave the lights up? 1 week? 2 weeks? After the Super Bowl? Valentine's Day? Easter?