Dreaming of a (non)White Christmas

Judging by how prolific they’ve become in recent years a lot of people seem to like white Christmas lights. I know I’m gonna get mail about this.

I’m not real big on Christmas. I need to be coaxed (okay, dragged and beaten) into something resembling yuletide spirit. For me, white mini-lights just don’t cut it. They have the holiday charm of a corporate office park or a South Beach mojito bar, and about as much comfort and joy as my 60-watt desk lamp. They don’t say Christmas to me. They say, “Co-op Sales Office: Suite 300”.

White Christmas lights tell me “Like, I was at Saks this weekend and they had the most totally delicious winter display of Ferragamo anaconda leather boots…”

White Christmas bulbs are the lighting equivalent of dropping “Merry Christmas” in favor of the PC generic, “Happy Holidays”. Is this is how we celebrate the rich cultural diversity of our country during glad tidings season? With a soulless white light bulb? By making our houses look like Tavern On The Green?

Listen up, albino light folks. Holidays have colors. Orange is for Halloween, green is for St Paddies Day, red, white and blue are of course Independence Day and I think pink and yellow are for Easter. Okay, I’m not sure about Easter but I do know that red and green are for Christmas. White is for weddings and under-cabinet lighting! We don’t need more white on Christmas. That’s what snow is for.

I’m lazy too so I can appreciate it if you’re the procrastinating type who doesn’t get around to striking your outside holiday displays till the following spring. Then you can leave those white lights burning until next June and people will just think you’re a tanning salon or something.

But what’s next? Wrapping Christmas gifts in plain white deli paper? Dressing Santa in business casual? A Fourth of July with nothing but white fireworks?

Maybe it’s symptomatic of where Christmas is heading and this is just one tiny step on our way to A Jetson’s Christmas aesthetic, where even the traditional Christmas tree will be reduced to a generic, pigment-free vector graphic.

Look at this “tree”. To me it looks like an old Soviet nuclear missile warhead. I can almost hear the cheerful glee around that tree on Christmas morning. “Oh boy, mom and dad! A life insurance policy! Just what I always wanted!”

After I had strung up my colored outside lights this year I looked down the street and saw that virtually all of my neighbors had white mini-lights. Well, except for the cop across the street with his “Small World In Vegas” display. The block looked like a thousand little flashlights hanging in the bushes. As festive as a landing strip.

How did this happen? When did we contract a phobia about colored Christmas lights? Is it because they’re associated with the bad taste of tobacco road trailer parks and no-tell motels? Well, what do we call those people, binky? That’s right: WHITE trash! I win.

When I was a kid, nobody used white Christmas lights. The closest we had was a neighbor we called Mr Scratchy (another story) who dressed his little evergreens with yellow lights. But he was a raging alcoholic with a jaundiced liver so they probably looked white to him. Otherwise, the street was bursting with color. American dads argued with one another over which company made the brightest red or the deepest blue C9 bulb. Remember those things? You know, the bulbs that would sear flesh when you touched them and which kept the crisp winter nights alive with the seasonal sound of approaching fire apparatus.

Well, I’m keeping the faith. Last year I bought a cool outside Christmas topiary but it only came with — you guessed it — white lights. So I bought a set of colored magic markers and hand-colored each and every one of those 300 bulbs. Karen thought I had completely lost my mind, but guess what she did to her pre-lit wreath this year?

The view from my bedroom



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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of BrooklynRowHouse.com, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.