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The Tacky Christmas Lights Next Door

Ever wonder what compels people to display colored Christmas lights and decor like a carnival in their front yard?

It happens every year. First the "Jonses" get their Christmas lights hung, pristine and white, an ethereal symphony of twinkling perfection. And then... the next door neighbors follow suit. Or at least they try, with a hodgepodge of colored lights and decor that looks something like Santa's toy shop gone wild.

Which do you prefer? White lights or colored? Tell us in the comments.

Lest we have the audacity to judge anyone's display (and we all do!) let us take a look behind the scenes at the planning of both types of displays, from the moment the decorating commences, til' that last string of mini lights finds its way outdoors -- a little Christmas miracle in itself.

White lights require a sense of refinement, a mastery of subtle ambiance to set the yard aglow like a white forest. The initial stages of planning typically call for a trip to the store for all new lights to avoid even the remotest possibility of failure on the job.

The kids are welcome to come along, though it is discouraged because children possess an appetite for colored lights, not to mention inflatable yard characters which would only muck up the display.

At home, the white lights are pulled from their boxes, taking great care to gently pluck each bulb from the Fort Knox-like contraption they are packaged in. This is no job for children, but it's certainly their choice if they'd like to sit quietly and watch. 

Outdoors, the lights are draped in symmetrical patterns on anything from tree trunks to boxwoods. Since symmetrical and children don't jive when it comes to hanging anything, the kids are relegated to menial tasks such as throwing away the boxes the lights came in -- and those annoying paper instruction booklets. By the time all the lights are hung, the kids have gone inside -- they tire easily of white lights and nothing to do.

Next door, the colored lights are displayed like a smattering of paint on a giant canvas. There's no evident pattern, there's an inflatable snowman in the middle of it all, yet it's somehow warmer. This kind of ambiance is only attainable through a child's decorating plans.

From start to finish, the colorful Christmas yard boasts something more than the expected elegance of white lights. The colorful yard reveals a different sort of refinement -- that of a parent who is willing to let their children make the decisions and have all the fun to create their rendition of the perfect Christmas display.

So the final outcome is a bit disorganized, the yard looks somewhat disheveled, there's a lone string of lights dangling carelessly from a tree branch, but the children are happy, and their parents couldn't care less what the neighbors think.

White lights and colored lights are equally beautiful, but before you decide, be sure to ask your kids what they think -- no doubt, they'll light up.

Is your home decorated for Christmas? Be sure to enter for a chance to get your electricity bill paid in December and a shot at winning $100,000 for our local schools.

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