Thursday, December 4, 2008
It began around this time last year. It started out innocently enough, but has now snowballed helplessly out of control. There are no self help groups to join. My condition is not yet recognized as a dangerous and addictive disease. But I'm here before you all to admit my inner depravity. I have C.L.A.S.S. I'm talking, of course, about Christmas Light Acquisition Syndrome Symptoms.
We decided to put up some lights on the house last year. So, I bought some net lights at K-Mart to drape around the bushes, and when I got home, I decided it would be best to get them out and plug them in to see if they would even work. Just as I had covered the first bush, our neighbors up the street yelled down, "Hey! What are you doing? Are you trying to make us look bad?". I tried to explain that I was simply testing the new lights, but, "Oh no," they said, "We're putting ours up, too!"
Hours later, I went outside to get something from my truck. It was pitch black and very cold, and I was very surprised to see the same neighbors' garage door open and all of the lights on. Then I noticed that he was up on his ladder, still decorating his house. Incredulous, I went back inside and got the wife. "Honey, you're not gonna believe this. Come look." As we stared up the street in amazement, I could feel the anger welling up in my soul. I knew what I had to do. I had to out-decorate him. I had to win.
Several trips to K-Mart later, and with some encouragement from my father-in-law, my house shone like a beacon in the night. Cars would linger for long moments in front of my domicile of dazzling lights, and children were lost in wonderment. It was by no means a tremendous display of enormous proportions, just a few hundred white lights, some yard deer, a few lighted wreaths, and an outdoor Christmas tree, but it was the best house on our street, and my neighbor knew it. "Dude, you got me on the lights this year," he woefully admitted. I called the father-in-law to gloat, and I felt good about my victory.
The day after Christmas found me at the Home Depot, where I purchased a 5 foot lighted wreath and a few more strands of lights for half price. I was already thinking about next year, and how perfect that wreath would look over my garage. I had plans of adding pieces to my display each year, but I was convinced that it wasn't a problem. I could quit anytime I wanted. And indeed, I managed to put Christmas lights out of my mind for several months.
But Halloween was scarcely over when I started planning my display this year. In the first week of November, I moved all of my supplies into the garage... just to take stock of what I had on hand. I began to troll the internet, tracking blow mold Santas on Ebay, drooling over the photos on PlanetChristmas.com, and researching wire form figures that could possibly adorn my roof. I began driving by K-Mart at odd hours, even when it wasn't on the way home.
I had my entire display ready to go before Thanksgiving, making excuses to the neighbors that my work schedule was hectic, and that I had to put them up now before I was just too busy. The kids helped me decorate the outside tree, and I added some sparkly snowflakes to the front porch and a light up Santa to the front yard. The big wreath looks great above the garage, and my mother-in-law even tied me a huge bow to hang upon it. I was proud.
When the wife remarked how wonderful everything looked, I was beaming. "I didn't know you had such Christmas spirit," she said, but she had missed the point entirely. It's not about Christmas spirit at all. It's about shaming my neighbors into feeling empty and small with their pitiful, amatuerish displays, leaving them to lie awake at night, tossing and turning, planning their next move, plotting to outdo me. But more than that, it's about having C.L.A.S.S., and brother, I've got it in spades.