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Celebrating Christmas in my house growing up was, I realize now, a rather sedate affair in the way of decorations. We always had a tree, of course, and we had a nativity scene and some random Christmas-themed stuffed animals and towels and candles scattered around, but that pretty much covered it. There weren’t a lot of outdoor lights, or indoor lights on anything but the tree. There wasn’t garland strung over doorways or mistletoe anywhere. I thought this was the norm until I met families like my husband’s that are the opposite. Colored lights and garland are literally everywhere, the bay window in the front room is a Christmas scene covered in wrapping paper, rooms are rearranged to fit a tree that scrapes the ceiling, and there are multiple outdoor decorations that (this year) include a lit-up flamingo and peacock that I kind of love. These days, I appreciate both options, though I don’t think I can ever go the Clark Griswold, power-grid-destroying route myself.

The first year I had an apartment with friends, senior year of college, we did our own version of a Christmas tree, and despite its Charlie Brown size, it was cute. For some reason, it was decorated almost entirely in purple (maybe one of us already owned purple lights) and for some reason, one of my roommates named it Merle. But after moving to Boston, since I returned to my parents’ house every Christmas, my decorations were minimal, and I didn’t care. There are plenty of lights and decorations around the city to look at, and I was always happy not to do the work of setting things up and taking them down.

Then we moved to our (sigh) suburban neighborhood, and it suddenly seemed wrong not to decorate in a bigger way. My husband was on board with that. In fact, our typical post-Thanksgiving conversation has evolved into something along the lines of the following:

Me: This looks nice.

Him: We need more lights. And what about this stuffed reindeer?

Me: Where did that even come from?

Him: I don’t know. Doesn’t it look good here by the chair?

Me: Whatever. I’m going to make some cocoa now.

So, we’ve accumulated more and more decorations, including a large box with a snowman and a lamppost inside that lights up, sings, and snows all at the same time. But our outdoor decorations are still sadly lacking. Even more disturbing is that, other than one of our neighbors, no one on our street has outdoor decorations. It’s like a Christmas ghost town. I guess I always lived vicariously as a kid, admiring others’ lights, and I’m finding that’s hard to do in our neighborhood since pretty much no one decorates. Isn’t this supposed to be one of the perks of living in suburbia? Come on, people! One day we’re going to get an outdoor outlet, and then it’ll be ON. We have at least two light-up reindeer waiting in the basement, so watch out!

Maybe in the meantime I’ll drive to L.’s house and check out her neighbors’ handiwork instead. I need to get my Griswold fix somewhere.

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