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i saw the light
i saw the party lights
by robert a. melos

I enjoy holiday decorations as much as the next fellow, but just when did every holiday get its own unique string of lights to make the holiday more festive? I'm not complaining, mind you, I just wondered when this trend of stringing lights for every occasion came about?

I remember as a child, my father stringing lights on a huge pine tree in our front yard. For many years the lights were of the 4 watt "nite lite" bulb variety, cleverly colored in the four prime colors of red, blue, yellow and green. These lights seemed to last forever, and only varied in color when they began to fade, giving the red either a pink or slightly orange hue. They were big bulky bulbs which I will forever associate with Christmas, and the occasional Mexican restaurant in which I've eaten. Of course the restaurant also had giant cement cacti out in front, but I'll talk about lawn decorations another time.

The holiday lights, when I was a child, were almost entirely associated with Christmas. They did eventually go from those large bulbs to the now more prevalent miniature bulbs in strings of thirty, fifty, one hundred, or one hundred and fifty. These cute little lights could also convert from steady light to blinking lights, although my father was sure the blinking caused a greater pull on the electricity causing our holiday electric bills to be higher.

It wasn't too many years ago when I began to notice lights around Halloween. Now they were cleverly shaped as ghosts and pumpkins, and the odd skeleton or witch on a broomstick. I was duly impressed by someone's creative notion, and went about my business. It wasn't long after my encounter with the cute shaped Halloween lights that I encountered heart shaped lights for Valentine's Day.

Oh yes, the creative mind and the financial mind had melded together. Apparently the thought of allowing a holiday, even one which carries morose overtones for some, to go by without an acknowledgment of light seemed unthinkable. So the heart shapes were joined by Cupids, and Cupids shooting arrows, and hearts with arrows through them, and even broken hearts.

Next up were the shamrocks and leprechauns, and little top hats with shamrocks on them, and pots of gold, and Irish flags, and harps, all for the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. It wasn't enough to have green beer, corned beef, boiled potatoes and cabbage for the day, but the advertising and marketing geniuses just had to add lights to this celebration as well. So be it. I could live with the cute lights.

It came as no surprise to me when cute illuminated bunnies, chicks, colored eggs, chicks breaking out of colored eggs, and crosses and lilies for the more religious amongst us, appeared for Easter. I still don't think of it as Easter until I've bitten the ears off a white chocolate rabbit, but the festive lights do make for a nice touch.

I admit I groaned when I saw the little American flag lights, and the strings of red, white and blue lights appear around the 4th of July. The small Lady Liberty and Liberty Bell lights were, in my opinion, taking things a bit too far. I love my country, but I draw the line at stringing up miniature Statue Of Liberty lights. I admit I did almost purchase the patriotic sayings light set, with little bulbs of plastic in the shape of the words "Give me liberty, or give me death," and "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country."

I rapidly grew accustom to the summer party lights in the shapes of palm trees, and flamingos, and beach umbrellas. I actually looked forward to the different shaped lights I could find in the stores. I even began to look forward to the less noted seasonal changes, like the Autumn leaf light set. A string of lights shaped like leaves in hues of reds, golds, and vaguely browns. The first day of school was cause for the cute little school bus and red apple shaped lights to go up.

At some point I became slightly addicted to the festive light craze. Admittedly I didn't need to buy the cute little dreidel and menorah shaped lights, but I felt I should acknowledge my Jewish ancestry, and what better way than to string up festively decorative lights?

I even became more of a sports enthusiast with little basketball shaped lights, baseball shaped lights, and cute little football shapes alternated with the NFL logo shaped letter lights. Heck, I even started celebrating bass fishing season with lights shaped like fish on hooks.

Well, Thanksgiving Day is coming up. I've taken down the Canadian maple leaf shaped lights I had up for Canadian Thanksgiving, and already placed my festive Halloween ghosts and pumpkins in their boxes for next year. Now I'll break out the little Native American and Pilgrim shaped lights, and the really adorable turkey shaped lights with the tails that blink, and show my festive appreciation for another brightly lighted holiday.

I guess I've succumb to the festive light rituals just like most of my neighbors. As they say on Star Trek: The Next Generation, "resistance is futile." Hey, there's a light set I haven't seen yet. I wonder if they have little starship and pointed ear light sets?


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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