Unleash the Extension Cords

’tis the season for judging your neighbor’s holiday decor

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Michelle Roberts

The holiday yard over-decorator has gotten a pretty bad rap over the years. Their plastic-packed yards, while revered by some, are largely considered gaudy and gratuitous. “Why turn your yard into a spectacle?” people ask.

And ... “Why can’t you keep your gyrating holly berries to yourself?”

And also ... “Why can’t you be more tasteful and limit yourself to only two roof-mounted animatronic Grinches?”

Anyone complaining about how their neighbor’s holiday sprawl violates “the spirit” of Christmas is opening a giant can of historical, religious, and philosophical worms. I guess that’s three cans.

And perhaps most importantly ... “Did you really think I’d buy into some ridiculous farce wherein Darth Vader celebrates Christmas, as your 20-foot-tall inflatable Vader-in-a-Santa-hat would have me believe? And while I’m ranting, why the hell is he standing next to Winnie the Pooh? What kind of hackneyed alternate dimension storyline are you crafting?”

These are important rhetorical questions. And mostly, they boil down to aesthetics.

Meanwhile, other people criticize the chronic Christmas over-doer for forgetting the “reason for the season.” To which I say, anyone complaining about how their neighbor’s holiday sprawl violates “the spirit” of Christmas is opening a giant can of historical, religious, and philosophical worms. I guess that’s three cans.

Since Christmas is a many-tentacled amalgamation of different celebrations and remembrances, rooted in everything from pre-Christian belief systems to Kindle Fire sales figures, I think you just gotta find your own thing and go with it. And some people’s “thing” happens to involve 800 feet of extension cord, 35 power strips, seven air compressors, and enough electricity to power a small republic in Eastern Europe.

The important part is to avoid judging other people.

That said, some decorations simply violate the senses. (And by “the” I mean “my.”) Like those icicle-mimicking string lights. Sure, they look cute for a few weeks before the holidays, but we all know that, come spring, they’ll still be hanging along your gutters – a grungy off-white reminder that Christmas is over and we’re simply left with 10 pounds of extra body fat.

But that’s not all. Inflatable lawn ornament technology has advanced at sickening speeds as the holiday industrial complex races to feed our insatiable desire for bigger, better, and fully animated displays. Just the other day, I’m pretty sure I saw a massive, air-filled Yukon Cornelius achieve sentience. Mark my words. An uprising is coming, and it’ll be followed by a day of holly jolly reckoning.

And riddle me this: Why do people wrap string lights around the tree trunks in their yard, starting at the ground, but stopping just short of the branches? At night, all I see is an eerie set of colorful obelisks. It looks like the ruins of an ancient temple built by Rudolph worshippers. 

But there’s one particular holiday home decorator I’d like to single out: The Lone Wolf. These are people who pack every single square centimeter (yep, I went metric there) with Xmas decor, and they’re the only person on the entire street to do so. It’s like their holiday sprit is massive and dense enough to disrupt gravity, sucking in Christmas from miles around to a point of singularity.

You can see the house from blocks away. Driving through the nighttime neighborhood streets, you spot the ominous green and red glow in the distance. The candy-colored light oozes into the sky above. As you ease your car closer and closer, the anticipation builds like a giant snow ball rolled to the edge of a hill, teetering on the brink. And then?

POW. There it is – a Christmas oasis amid a frozen desert of ... not Christmas.

Honestly, I’ve gotta hand it to these people. They just don’t care. They love the holidays, and they don’t hold back, even if they must stand alone. How many of us can claim the same level of passion for the things we hold dear to our little hearts of hearts?

So here’s to them. Light it up, Lone Wolf decorators. You do you.