That was my response to my neighbors’ persistent whining about my lack of holiday spirit.

I refuse to yield to the pressure of members of what I call the Conspicuous Kilowatt Consumption Club, whose homes are so lit up that the dials of their electric meters are spinning like the propellers on a B-57.

Last week the Henderson’s house achieved lift-off and circled the neighborhood like Dorothy’s house on The Wizard of Oz.

In some neighborhoods, the excessive decorative lighting emits so much holiday glare that orbiting astronauts can use them as a nightlight.

My undecorated home is the black hole in a galaxy of blinking lights, prancing reindeer, and singing Wise Men.

I even quit putting up a Christmas tree years ago. Our 30-year-old artificial tree’s twisted plastic bristles had gotten as shabby and bedraggled as a well-used toilet brush tucked into the mildewed corner of a gas station restroom. It just smelled slightly better.

My neighbor across the street spends weeks stringing lights and positioning his holiday displays. Chipmunks sing, reindeer prance, Santa pops up from the chimney, and the Three Wise Men kneel at a manger full of live animals. The night sky around his house is aglow like the Vegas Strip. You have to view it through a pinhole in a square of cardboard, just like an eclipse, or you could be blinded. When I open the drapes on that side of my house, I could perform surgery by the ambient light streaming through my windows.

Why should I go to the trouble and expense of a lavish display when I can let him do all the work? I can look out my window and admire the fruits of his labor any time I want. It is a lot like living next door to someone who owns a pool table, a camper, or a swimming pool, or a boat.

A person can live very cheaply if you are willing to “suck up” to a neighbor who is willing to shoulder the expense and the hassle.

For instance, I always wanted a dog. I found out that if your next door neighbor has a dog, you can pet it and play fetch with it and even give it a name. Then when it needs a bath, or a trip to the vet, or a bloated tick removed from its ear, you can just call your neighbor and tell him to call his dog; it is bothering you. The principle is the same when it comes to Christmas displays.

Some of my neighbors’ homes are tastefully decorated in a common theme and coordinating colors. Others cannot seem to make up their minds whether to go with a religious or a secular theme. The manger’s roof is held up by giant candy canes, Jesus’s bed is Santa’s sleigh, and the angels are portrayed by Alvin, Simon, and Theodore Chipmunk.

As you stand on the corner and look down my street, the rows of colorfully lit houses are strung together like twinkling stars in a celestial constellation. Until you come to my unlit house, which is like a hole in Orion’s belt, a leak in the little dipper, a giant intergalactic black hole threatening to suck all the light and joy out of the neighborhood.

Carollers refuse to serenade me, lest they are sucked into the vortex and deposited into some parallel universe, doomed to drift through outer space for all eternity like an astronaut whose umbilical tether has snapped.

I admit sometimes the guilt gets to me. Perhaps I am denying my neighbors and even myself of the joys and rewards of a winter wonderland in my own front yard. I could start by stringing hundreds of yards of lights in the shrubbery. I could install a replica of Santa’s sleigh and his prancing reindeer on my roof.

Nah. I am just going to open the drapes at my picture window as soon as I poke a pinhole in a square of cardboard. Happy holidays!


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