Three years ago at this time, the Salt Lake valley was a shimmering wonderland, all a-blaze with twinkling lights and blow-up, glowing Santas. It was disturbing, actually, the excess that was all around. Last year, as the economy tanked, along with the spirit of the bulk of the nation, I noticed a bit of a decline in the amount of sparkling lights, but not much.

On one street three years ago, every house was decked out in all sorts of Christmas finery – mostly stuff that went through electricity like water through a sieve. This year, the contrast is disturbing…

christmas lights

I hadn’t really paid attention to the Christmas lights – or lack thereof – until Saturday, when I purposely set out to SEE the Christmas lights. I wasn’t even out of my neighborhood before the dawning started settling in… there were not many lights around. I felt sad and began to wonder if anyone had ever conducted a survey, collected data and tallied the statistics about the number of lights and electrical holiday decorations used in good economic times versus down times. It would be interesting.

I continued onward. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my least favorite holiday decorations are the holiday blow-up yard decorations. (unless, of course, they are deflated! THEN I love ’em!) We have a particular house in our neighborhood who has, apparently, bought out the stock on every holiday so we are treated to a plethora of blow-ups for every. single. holiday. Even the holidays for which I had no idea they created yard blow-ups. St. Patrick’s Day, for instance.

I’ve written about this particular house before because I am continually disgusted or amused by their displays. Last year, they hoisted a huge, yellow sign in their front yard that was hand crafted to rival any “Vote Joe for Student Body President” sign you could imagine – and just about as tacky. It was HUGE. And crammed full of hand writing that was far too small to see from the street. I, being a generally curious creature, took the time to pull off to the side of the road, park my car and walk up to the sign so I could read it. It read something to the effect:

We will not be displaying
our holiday yard decorations
anymore this year because
someone vandalized them ALL
last night by slitting them open
with a sharp object…

It blahdy-blah-blahed on and on until the writing got so small, I couldn’t even read it from the sidewalk, but I stopped reading at that point. I couldn’t see through the tears as I bellowed with devilish delight. It wasn’t me! I swear it! However, anyone driving by would have probably thought otherwise when they witnessed me doubled over, holding my stomach and laughing until I cried.

Sadly, two days later, ALL of the inflatable yard decorations were back, bedecked in conspicuous duct tape in various places. I laughed again. Hard.

This summer, they put in a fence.

At any rate, on my drive I noticed that there were far fewer houses this year to bedazzle my eyes, those that have been known for their excess were still excessive this year, even adding new blow-up thingies and more lights to rival Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:

Christmas Lights
(The one with the lighter blue sky, bottom/left, is the house I was referring to earlier. Apparently the difficult economy hasn’t hit that household very hard. This Christmas, they’ve added MORE yard inflatables and buntings of twinkle lights along the fence. Unfortunately, you’re unable to see all of their yard delights due to this crappy picture. I was being honked at from the impatient driver in the car behind me, so this is as good as it gets.)

Other homes were not quite as excessive in the light display, but still a bit over the top with the inflatable yard decor:

inflatable yard decor

Let’s take a moment and make note that the huge snowman center/top actually has a merry-go-round in its belly and Santa in bottom/right corner is in a train that is stopped for the reindeer crossing. It’s always so convenient to throw a net of lights on your bushes, but, really??? And… Ugh… lighted, twiggy reindeer. Who thought of that??? I remember years ago thinking it was so cute. Now I think they’re only cool when someone messes with them and moves them around so one is mounting the other. Those two white-ish blobs on top/right were really cute, though. They are little cows. Quite original given that I was on Winder Lane – home of the Winder family who owns the local dairy. I was sad, though. Winder Lane used to be a Winter Wonderland when I was little with enough lights to compete with all of Temple Square. Since most of the original family has moved off the lane, it lacks the original flair.

Then we have those people who want to look good and like they are festive so they hire professionals to come do their lights…

professional christmas lights
Boring. And icicles? Although I remember thinking how quaint they were when they first appeared, they are now so 1999!

Icicle Lights
But the ones that always get me are the houses that look like the lights were thrown at the house, in hopes that they would stick. Or a tiny display that was apparently well thought out, but gets lost in the vast open space…

Christmas Lights

After all that sarcasm, I guess it would be fair for me to admit to you the following truth: I’m a little bit jealous of these light/decoration displays for one reason – someone(s) took the time to decorate and I haven’t felt like that for years. While I honor this season, saying so in brilliant lights and reindeer who need to be pumped up every night just doesn’t seem to do it for me anymore.

Sometimes I miss the Angie that liked to decorate elaborately for Christmas.

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