OK, I’ll admit it. I’m now fully assimilated into the “Pleasant Valley Sunday” existence that is life in a quiet, unassuming, and altogether nondescript sub-division in the East Valley of the Valley of the Sun. I’ve given myself up as Picard did to the Borg in the name of holiday house fashion and neighborhood bonding. How, you ask? Because I finally broke down and put Christmas lights on the house exterior.
For years I had resisted the urge to join my fellow neighbors in their festive holiday season exterior decorating, content with our usual tradition of candles in the window and the occasional string of lights on one of the plants by the front entrance. And every year, with each and every passing of the Christmas season, the houses on our street became more and more dazzling. Some of the houses were plain gaudy, others only slightly more restrained and (shall I venture to say) more tasteful in their design, but you couldn’t help but noticing the empty spot on the right-hand side of the street. Our side. As you turned the corner onto W. Hearne Way you’d first see Rex #1 with his house lit up in all kinds of small colorful lights, then the German couple with the teenagers with their house done in white lights around the frame, then Rex #2 with his typically gaudy display of blown-up gift boxes and a huffing, puffing train on lit-up tracks surrounding his yard. Then, after our house, our neighbor Keith’s house with a nice-enough combination of aquamarine string of blue lights with funky white and blue droplets hanging off his garage front for good effect.
After that, there’s the house at the end of the street that has never once had lights on it. But hey, what do you expect from renters? As you turn counter-clockwise in the cul-de-sac, there’s Terry’s house. He too has never had lights on it, but then again, you can’t see his house at all unless you go all the way to the end and make the turn. Heading back up the street, there’s Mohammed, but he’s a Muslim so you wouldn’t expect any lights there. John then has some happy frilly lights hanging off his house’s frame, then the lady next to him who is also renting and has never put up lights – shame on her! – then, finally, the final two houses on the opposite side that I call “Vegas South” with light displays fitting the finest casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard.
So as you can see, I subconsciously felt the pressure of being that lone dark spot between Rex #2 and Keith. Even though we annually fought the brave fight with our humble little window candles, you never really saw them from the street unless you looked carefully. Simply put, we were not getting the job done. On a street with everything from Cadillacs to Lexuses, we had transportation for sure, but it was in the equivalent of the Ford Tempo, the Dodge Dart.
So this year I decided that was all going to change. It happened last Thursday in the early AM when I woke up from a sound sleep deciding that this was going to be the year. We were finally going to join the club, keep up with the Joneses, play the good neighbor, and immerse ourselves into the W. Hearne Way Christmas culture. On Saturday I went to the local Lowe’s, found me some old-fashioned lights with old-fashioned white-green-red-blue-orange old-fashioned bulbs (no LEDs, no Vegas-style fashions, no huffing, puffing blow-up Santas or Charlie Browns) and hung two strings around the wood frame of the garage with a minimum of effort and time. And I think it looks OK. Not great, but good enough, certainly.
Our house will hardly be the talk of the neighborhood, but now at least it looks like we belong. We have been officially assimilated. Let the holidays begin!