(originally published in Dec. 2007)
My family was fortunate in that we never lived in the sort of place
where Christmas outdoor decorations becomes a blood sport.
Yes, people strung lights in their shrubbery or along their house
gutters but there was never anyone determined to turn their
front yard into the North Pole’s Southern Branch Office.
Now for light shows back then you went to someplace religious,
like Our Lady of La Sallette Shrine in North Attleboro or the local
cemetery with it’s entrance lit up, or even just cruised a stretch
of highway to look at the neighborhood lights that might be seen
from a distance as you drove by.
We didn’t really have outside lights ourselves until we left Boston
for Abington. Up until then the only lights other than on our
Christmas tree were the electric candles we put on windowsills.
But at the house Dad did the obligatory shrubbery and gutter
displays as well as one other spot: the apple tree in the front yard.
Dad had experience both with wiring and tree climbing so putting
a string of lights up in a small apple tree was a piece of cake. It
was the taking down part that didn’t seem to work at least for
the tree. One year, long after the other outside lights were down
and packed away, the lights still were hanging in the apple tree.
I’m not sure exactly when he took them down but I do know it
was well after Spring had sprung. I think they were even plugged
in one or two nights. I don’t know the reasons why they were
still there: my Dad’s sense of humor, perhaps? Or maybe an
instance where Dad’s Maine stubbornness and the Irish
stubbornness of my Mom brought about some impasse on the issue?
On my way home the other night from work I noticed at least
three of those large hot air snow globe scenes on front lawns.
Those families must have big electricity bills!
2010 Update: As I discovered in 2008, the apple tree in
the front yard of the house is long gone. But a news report
the other night made me think of Dad. The holiday
lighting ceremony at Braintree has been postponed a week
because squirrels had eaten through the wires.
The lights had been left up all year since last Christmas!
2011 Update: The big snowstorms last winter had one
interesting effect. Some of the homes with heavily
decorated outside yards remained that way until
the snow melted. One home in particular had an inflatable
Santa and other decorations buried under snow drifts
and you could just see the tops of them as you drove by
the house. I think they were there until mid-March!
2013 Update: It's a bit early yet apparently for the lights
to go up for Christmas around here. I don't work anymore
and haven't driven around much after dark so I haven't
seen any houses lit up yet. I did, however, spot two of
those big inflatable figures on someone's front lawn yesterday
I'm not sure there be many houses lit up this year, or that they
will be many elaborate displays. The electric companies in the
New England area have raised their rates over 30% and that
may be too much for many people to afford to put up Christmas
There's only a few homes along the main streets in the area that have put up
their outside lights so far this year. But there are some in specific neighborhoods
and I've noticed word gets out via Facebook on where the best displays are to take
your kids to see them.
Since my retirement I don't drive much after dark any more, so I haven't seen
any houses decorated so far. But there's a contest for best decorations going on,
and a Christmas Tree lighting going on at Island Grove as well,
There's a really good Christmas display over on Lake Street by Island Grove that gets a lot of visitors every year. It looks like a lot of work to put together. But unfortunately some unusually high winds knocked over the big Christmas tree at Island Grove after it was lit just the week before.