Oh, Christmas Tree

I posted a picture of my Christmas tree on Facebook last night.


My friend Vikki responded: “Oh, you’re a white lights person.

I could FEEL the disapproval with every keystroke. I told Vikki I was fully prepared to defend my choice, and throw down, as it were. And while she admitted that my tree is beautiful, she expressed disappointment, because she thought I was “one of us.”

Listen, admitting that I prefer white lights on my Christmas tree is NOT EASY for me. I am the only one of my siblings who does this. It is perplexing to them.

My complicated relationship with white lights began somewhere around 1980-81, when my family moved from one quaint South Shore town to another. Hull and Hingham are right next to each other, geographically, but from a sociological and cultural standpoint, moving from Hull to Hingham was akin to relocating to Neft Dashlari, or Mars, or Cleveland. I mean, it was an adjustment.

There are a lot of insane things about growing up in Hingham. I could write a whole book about growing up in Hingham (and I kind of am, at present). But one of the most insane things about Hingham? The unwritten, unspoken agreement that you do not do colored lights at Christmas, ever. At all.

Okay, MAYBE in the neighborhoods that nobody paid much attention to (like ours, which was practically in WEYMOUTH, for God’s sake), one could get away with a strand or two of multi-colored lights on one’s shrubs. But in most areas, and particularly on Main Street, it was understood that come the holidays, your home was to be decorated thus:

• An evergreen wreath on the front door. NO PLASTIC.
• A red ribbon on said wreath. NOTHING ELSE.
• An electric candle in any window facing the street. One candle per window, WHITE BULBS ONLY.
• If your tree is viewable from the street, the lights on that tree are WHITE.
• Absolutely no colored lights on the bushes. Actually, you really shouldn’t have ANY lights on the bushes.
• And, certainly, it should go without saying that nothing inflatable goes in your yard, ever.

Really. If you don’t believe me, take a trip down Main Street in mid-December and see for yourself.

There was something absolutely soul-sucking about this, every time we took Main Street en route to the Hanover Mall. I’d sit in the backseat and feel terrorized by this display of conformity. As a teenager, those little white lights represented everything I hated about living there.

And, yet…..I had to admit that I preferred them.

Believe me when I say that I would rather have admitted to just about anything than liking little white lights. I believed that white lights absolutely meant that I was a giant snob. For several years I used red, green and white lights on my tree. But I simply couldn’t keep up the façade.

In all other respects I am the Queen of Trash. If it is tacky, mismatched, unloved, or on the rack in the back of the store, I champion it. I believe in casseroles topped with potato chips, Cool Whip, and two-liter bottles of orange soda. Honey Boo Boo is my spirit animal. I cheer when we drive by a house that is so bedecked in flashing lights it can be viewed from space.

But, yes, Virginia. When it comes to my Christmas tree I am “a white lights person.”

Can’t we all get along?

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