The Christmas Decoration War
Christmas means war.
Let me explain why.
We’ve lived in “The Lakes” section of West Las Vegas for about ten years, now. When we first moved onto this street, it was a quiet neighborhood made up mostly of retired people. Now, younger families with kids have flooded into the area. Our street also has many different nationalities — including Canadians, Palestinians, Chinese, Russians, Mexicans, Egyptians, Persians, and Romanians. We even have a few Mormons. They’re from some weird place called Utah.
During those earlier years, a few of our neighbors put up decorations over the holidays. Usually, the lights and decorations were modest. A few strands of lights here and there. A lit up Christmas tree. Maybe a Santa Claus or a manger scene.
Moreover, decorating usually began during the first week in December. Thanksgiving was regarded as separate holiday. Imagine that. No one dared to put up lights at least until November had ended.
But something happened.
In recent years, the competition to outdo each other has become a blood sport. Now, the neighbors start hanging up Christmas lights in mid-November. One house up the street initially decorated for Halloween, then on November 1st they promptly switched out black widow spiders for angels. The inflatable devil got boxed up, only to be replaced by a plastic Baby Jesus. One afternoon, it was 94 degrees outside, and poor Jesus was sizzling in the sun like an order of chicken fajitas.
Of course, the competition is infectious. This year, we put up our decorations on the day right after Thanksgiving. While shoppers were stampeding each other over “Black Friday,” I was outside splicing wires and dropping f-bombs because half the lights wouldn’t work. Nothing quite rings in the holiday spirit like hanging up long strings of electric icicles over the garage only to scream out “fuck!” on a tranquil afternoon when the lights won’t flick on.
By my estimation, this year we started out with about 4,000 lights in our front yard. There’s more inside the house. A few times, the fuse box exploded. One night, Marieta turned on the hair dryer and the entire house suddenly went pitch black. It took me an hour to figure out the right circuit breaker. Now, each time she washes her hair, I have to trample outside and shut off all the Christmas lights. We also managed to burn through two extension chords. The plastic actually melted on some of the plugs. We’re one rain shower away from a Nikola Tesla moment.
It’s advised never to plug in more than three light strands into any one electrical outlet. What in the hell do they know? Three strands, my ass. I’ve somehow managed to rig 14 strings into one outlet, and 11 into another. Never mind that any minute now another fuse might blow and we could end up ruining $500 worth of frozen ribeyes packed away in the freezer. I don’t care what the risks are — we’re going to have the best fucking Christmas display on the block!
But the enemy is catching up fast. For instance, some asshole up the street actually put out more lights than us. We had everyone else on the block covered by at least 1,500 bulbs. But that one family who does the Halloween decorations hired some company to come out and practically blanket their house in a sea of lights. Fucking jerks.
A least we’e beating out most of the rest of the block. You should see some of the other pathetic efforts. They should be ashamed of themselves. One family put up a single string of blue lights. Another did their house simply in candy canes. Hell, even the Mormons did better than that. Last week when I saw the Palestinians across the street putting out an inflatable Santa Claus, I knew it was a whole new ballgame. What next? The Iranians doing a manger scene?
Well, screw all of them. They’re not going to outdo our house! After seeing all the others starting to catch up, and especially the Halloween house starting to look like a giant Macy’s, I darted out of the house went to Home Depot and bought three more boxes of lights. There were 300 lights packed inside each box. So, now we’re fast approaching 5,000 bulbs.
However, our expansion has created some problems. The power plugs are already so packed full of wires, they won’t hold another three strands of lights. So, we hooked up two extension chords and ran the new batch out of the garage.
As of tonight, we’re back in the lead again. Were the brightest house on the block. The Halloween house has fallen behind us. We’re kicking everyone’s ass — at least until the next time Marieta plugs in the hair dryer.