When our children were little, they had special names for the holiday lights bedecking houses and yards this time of year. All-white lights were called "Daddy Lights," and colored lights were called "Mommy Lights."
I have no idea why. And they never explained it to us.
Regardless of what they're called, holiday lights are fun. Some folks travel long distances across Los Angeles to see houses that defy description, lit up in stupefying overabundance:
Me, I'm content to walk around my own neighborhood in the evening. In our one little block, I can see displays that run the gamut from tasteful to...how shall I say it? psychedelic.
The hands-down winner for lovely lighting is our own next-door neighbors' house. It is restrained. Elegant. Balanced:
It looks like Pottery Barn or Martha Stewart decorated the house.
White icicle mini lights line the eaves and drape the camellia bushes and tiny fir trees out front.
Red bows above the lantern lights.
A red bow on the door, outlined in a green garland bedecked with more mini lights.
Perfection! And then...there's this house:
It looks like Disneyland's "It's a Small World" ride...on acid.
This house takes everything that can blink, glow, glitter, and rotate, and throws it up on the front lawn.
Year after year, more and more stuff encrusted the front lawn, the roof, the walkways to this house. Until it took on a weird, organic logic. Now I get it:
"Tasteful" has its place in holiday lighting.
But "sheer, manic exuberance" makes people smile.
And who among us doesn't love a reason to smile?