Less sunlight makes for wackier holiday behavior. That's my theory, anyway.

Less sunlight makes for wackier holiday behavior. That's my theory, anyway. Ohioans, who favor manicured lawns and immaculate flowerbeds the rest of the year, react to the diminishing daylight of October by turning their yards into horror movie sets. Skeletons, gravestones, witches, goblins - it's as if Alfred Hitchcock started a landscaping service. But at that point the eccentricity has just begun. By late November, Ohioans are going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, which drives them half-mad. (The other half was caused by incessant political advertising in the run-up to Election Day.) An unstable frame of mind goes a long way toward explaining the Thanksgiving tradition of roasting an absurdly large bird that people aren't even sure they like. It appears to be some kind of strange self-punishment ritual. (The media overflows with stories on how to cope with leftover turkey in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Do you think those stories would be necessary if the food of choice were lobster or chocolate?) Shortly thereafter, the Christmas season gets going in earnest, and people begin dragging trees into the house. These are the same people who normally react to vegetative encroachment with mechanized warfare: Weed-whackers, mulching mowers, chemical sprayers capable of blasting stray dandelions from 50 feet away. But now that's all forgotten, and they're erecting a Douglas fir in the living room. But of course it doesn't stop there. Even in posh suburbs where code violations are normally met with stern disapproval, it suddenly becomes perfectly acceptable to festoon the house with garland, lights, messages and figurines. Such decorations would never pass muster in seasons of plentiful sunlight. Try putting a lighted mannequin of Santa Claus driving a sled across your roof in June and see what kind of reaction you get. January, of course, begins with heavy drinking, celebratory gunfire and kissing people you just met. So really, it's like any Saturday night - except for the funny hats. But things get stranger as the winter wears on. Fresh out of legitimate holidays, we turn such dubious occasions as the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards and Valentine's Day into excuses to continue the merriment. Still, it's obvious that the days are beginning to lengthen because these observances, while calorie-laden and hard on the wallet, can't quite match Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas for out-of-character behavior. No one invites relatives they normally avoid to spend Oscar weekend at the house, lapping up eggnog and feigning delight at re-gifted presents. Soon enough, spring arrives, the sun hangs around until a decent hour and atypical behavior fades. From then until the short days of November, all will be normal - or as close as it's possible to get to it around here. -Joe Blundo's column So to Speak appears in the Life section of The Columbus Dispatch. Visit his blog at Dispatch.com