By comparison our outdoor Christmas lights are incredibly modest. We have neighbors in our community whose lights outline their roofs or whose floodlights show up one entire side of their houses. There is the smattering of folks who tend to go overboard with their inflatable lawn decorations, and the occasional neighbor who reminds us with a large, spotlighted sign that Jesus is the reason for the season.
We, on the other hand have three small shrubs with net lights on them. Along the front porch and back deck railings are strings of garland bespeckled with little colored LED lights. There’s an old sled on one front corner of the house that belonged to my wife’s brother and which she has adorned with greens and a string of white lights. On the opposite front corner stand Rudolph and Olive (the other reindeer), created for us by a member of the Mantua United Methodist Church. The noses on the pair are little red bulbs that light up at night.
That’s pretty much it. We didn’t set up the two collapsible lighted trees that usually stand guard in our corner garden. As I say, incredibly modest decorations.
But don’t let that lead you to think that these decorations are a piece of cake in any sense of the phrase. They run off of three timers, two of which are solar-controlled, and therein lies the frustration. The timer that operates one shrub, a length of railing, and the sled is overly sensitive. More than once I found the lights on in the late afternoon because, as the sun was going down, it cast a shadow from the porch railing onto the timer, fooling it into thinking it was darker outside than it was. I have the timer set to stay on for six hours, figuring that if it came on around 5:00 or 6:00, it would stay on until close to midnight. Instead, the lights went out earlier than the other strings.
I would unplug that timer and plug it in again in the hope that it would reset. Instead, it now stays off until after the others come on, meaning that I have to unplug/plug in in order to make that string come on.
Then, on Mon., Jan. 3, we had a very heavy snowfall. It blocked enough of the light to make the back deck lights come on around mid-afternoon. The whole time I was outside shoveling snow off the deck and sidewalk I could see the lights shining away as though it were 10:00 at night!
The exasperation really isn’t worth it.
So, I believe that next year, I’ll get two non-solar timers to replace these. I have had no problems with the one non-solar timer I have. It’s very easy to set. One and done. That way, the lights can’t possibly be fooled into thinking they have to come on just because it seems to be later than it really is.
I also hope I don’t hear from the community’s management about keeping my lights up and running past the New Year. I believe I communicated clearly to them in recent years that according to the Christian calendar, Christmastide runs until January 6 (Epiphany) and that the lights represent Christ, the Light of the World. They should, therefore, stay illumined throughout the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Management had no comeback for that, and I haven’t heard anything about the issue ever since. I just hope they don’t expect me to remove all the decorations after January 6th, as the weather appears to be staying cold for a while, and I don’t like frozen fingers. As a sort of compromise, I’ll detach the timers so at least the lights don’t come on, but the neighbors will just have to put up with garland-bedecked porches.
I have to wonder if it wouldn’t better justify the effort to decorate if I went overboard like Clark Griswold (I could be “The Griswold of Cheswold”)! If I’m going to make an effort, why not make it worth it all?
Or maybe go the other way and call it with a wreath on the front door.
I’ll have to think about that.