COLUMNS

Balancing Act: Holiday-lighting competition proves contagious

Pat Snyder
Guest columnist

I had a sneaking suspicion that outdoor holiday lights would be a thing in 2020.

After all, what else is there to do?

Then sure enough, a brochure started circulating around my new neighborhood, announcing a holiday-lighting contest.

Pat Snyder

In addition to luminarias, which reportedly had been lit in years past, we now had an invitation to “decorate the yard and do up the door” and then stroll in masks or cruise in cars from place to place and vote.

Coming from a place that had been fairly light on the lights (I got by with two plastic poinsettia baskets hanging from a bird feeder), the new 2020 light challenge has been intimidating. It would be fair to say I have spent more time figuring out how to light up a very small house than I have on baking or gifting.

It started before Thanksgiving, when the next-door neighbors already had strung lights on their backyard arbor vitae and promised “more to come” in the front yard. I became a little nervous.

“I’ll at least put up a lighted wreath,” I said, and then noticed that the top half of the new front door is sectioned into nine window panes all fronted by a glass storm.

I immediately headed to Pinterest for pictures of wreaths that had been hung easily between nine window panes and a glass storm.

“A lighted swag!” I declared, only to order one that was too fat for the door to close.

I then heard that the previous owners simply had hung a garland around the doorframe.

“Ta-da!” I shouted, gleeful until I noticed that I would have to drill holes in stone to hang it. I can barely drill holes in drywall.

Back online, I soon discovered the EZ Garland Hanger, which relies on a spring-loaded mechanism instead of drilling. It scored five stars for its EZ installation.

With a lighted garland, I’d have outdoor lights. No worries ... until the box arrived. It was big enough to hold a pair of rifles and included numerous parts and a lot of “Important Safety Instructions.” Notably, it mentioned that improper installation could “result in serious injury to people or items.” In deference to the mail carrier and Amazon drivers everywhere, I decided to hire a handyman.

While I waited for him – with the contest looming and even more lights and wreaths going up next door – I decided the front porch would not be complete without a couple of porch pots containing miniature lit trees. These were simple, out-of-the box décor with battery lights and even a timer. They looked beautiful – until the first wind carried them off the porch and into the front beds.

Online again, I set out on a mission to find pea gravel, which someone suggested would weigh them down. Unfortunately, pea gravel comes mostly in 30-pound bags. I never knew my favorite 2020 Santa would be the merchant who shoveled some gratis from his pea-gravel pile into my mop bucket.

By this time, with garland up and porch pots steady, I decided all I really needed was to wrap the lamp post in a lighted garland and top it with a red ribbon, which I did. No problem.

By then, I should have stopped, but the holiday-lighting competition had infected me like a virus and compelled me to purchase one of those LED projectors that makes it look like it’s snowing without any snow. All I have to do is figure out how to plug it in someplace in the garage and shower the garden with light.

It’s obviously doable. They‘re doing it next door.

Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a Beechwold resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Read her work at patsnyderonline.com.