Whoever first decided to mount lights on the house at Christmas time was a true innovator, ahead of their time, and a scourge to all mankind. Read on and you’ll know who to be angry at when you fall off your ladder taking down all those infernal lights.
A Brief History
Thomas Edison was, as you would expect, the first to put electric lights up outside when he created a strand of lights and mounted them on the outside of his Menlo Park Laboratory in 1880 so railroad passengers travelling by would get a look at his newest invention. This was a marketing ploy and had nothing to do with Christmas. The Christmas connection came 2 years later in 1882 when his assistant, Edward Johnson, is said to have lit up a tree in New York City in 1882 with eighty small electric light bulbs. Soon after, his wife made him mount them on the roof, the bushes, the trees and the garage, along with a stupid-looking, lit-up reindeer.
The Norsemen used to hold nights of feasting and drinking around the burning of the Yule log. Man I miss those days. Lighting a Yule log had many meanings from summoning the sun’s return to driving away evil spirits. The drinking was just for fun. This in turn became the lighting of candles in windows to welcome weary travelers. Somehow we got from there to me climbing a ladder to mount a display that would make Clark Griswold proud.
What started as candles later became electric lights and who knows what’s next. Hopefully whatever it is will be wireless so I don’t have to spend half the day untangling them. Just by stopping in your local department or hardware store you will see a wide variety of choices. There’s the mini the C6, C7, C9 and wide or medium lens 5mm. You can go with led or incandescent and don’t forget the G-Series: globe shaped G-12 or G-25 and those are just the bulbs. You have string, spool and rope lights along with, snowflake, net or icicle sets. They have lights that drip, blink, flash and some still that just get lit up and sit there, kind of like me.
Getting Carried Away
We have a neighbor here in the hood who has so many lights on his house; I swear our streetlights dim for a second every time he turns them on. I recently saw a photo from space of the earth at night and this guy projects more light than North Korea. We drive by his place and snicker, but I know the wife is envious. She says it’s tacky and too much but I see her staring longingly at the lit-up reindeer and somehow I feel inadequate.
Really Getting Carried Away
First some clown decided to put music to his display. Now, it’s practically a requirement in my neighborhood, and not just Christmas music like Silent Night or Santa Claus is Coming to Town. No, now you have to have Mannheim Steamroller or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra blasting at 110 decibels through an outdoor surround sound behemoth stereo system, perfectly timed so the lights flash in sync with the composition. Oh, yeah, some you can even set your car radio to pick it up as well. I’m thinking of taking it a step further and having a live band set up between the stupid lit-up reindeer and the blowup Santa Claus she made me put in the front yard.
So Whose Bright Idea Was This?
It wasn’t Thomas Edison, just because he invented the electric light. It’s not his fault the local TV station has a segment every night on the gaudiest display. It’s not his fault the newspaper prints a map the wife uses to make me drive in circles all over town looking at displays. It’s not Edison’s fault I have stupid looking lit-up reindeer and a blow-up Santa in my yard. Just because he was the first to hang lights on the house doesn’t mean it’s his fault because I know whose idea it really was.
I blame his wife.