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It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas, of course. I know, it's looked a lot like Christmas since the days right before Halloween when ornaments and tinsel started crowding bleeding skulls and glowing pumpkins off the shelves at Target. But it's in full swing now, department stores blasting pop renditions of classic Christmas tunes, bell ringers at the door, wrapping stations parked in the middle of the mall. swlt.jpgThe pace of the shoppers changes after Halloween; their gait becomes frenzied and purposeful, marching in two-step from store to store, lists in hand, markers crossing off things bought and things impossible to attain. The neighbors have already started their migration from Thanksgiving props to Christmas decorations. I swear it was Halloween night when the great, glowing, blow up skeleton came down and the hot air turkey went up. The lighted skulls gave way to bales of hay and colorful gourds the next morning. And now, wasting no time, the colored strings of light lay twisted and tangled on their front lawn, waiting to be stretched out and hung on the gutter. And it's cold, to boot. Hand-blowing, toe-numbing cold that usually doesn't arrive on the Island until late December. And with the onslaught of Christmas trappings comes the third annual Operation TIPS: Christmas Decoration Hell (last year's installment here). I don't mind Christmas decorations, really. In fact, there's nothing prettier than twinkling, colored lights bouncing their reflections off of newly fallen snow. It's when people get carried away with their decor that I start to question the meaning of the holiday season (which is, of course, peace and goodwill towards men, gifts for everyone and death to people who have animated, musical Santas on their lawn). You know who you are. You're the guy who was up on the ladder two weeks ago, installing the tracks on your roof for this year's Polar Express display. You're the woman in the hand knitted sweater adorned with reindeer and puffy angels. You're the couple who has already sent out their Christmas cards, complete with pictures of the kids and a handwritten, ten page family newsletter that has been scented with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. You rent space from a storage facility to store all of your outdoor holiday decorations. Your neighbors hate you. So, with all that in mind, we proceed with the 2004 edition of Christmas Decorating Hell, which I'm getting off the ground early in order to give you plenty of time to charge the camera batteries and start scouting out the neighborhood. Below is the copy of the rules, straight from last year. I'm open to suggestions this time around, if anyone wants to add to the rules.
tc04.jpg I have a mission for you: Seek and destroy The Evil Overdecorator. You know who I'm talking about; the guy who uses more electricity for his Christmas decorations than an entire small city. The neighbor who makes it look as if the Wal-Mart Christmas department threw up on her lawn. I have a list of tips so you can determine whether or not you should report your neighbors to the TIPS Christmas hotline: 1. The brightness of their lighting display cause low-flying planes to think they are approaching a landing strip. 2. A soundtrack of sappy Christmas songs plays on repeat all night long. 3. They mix in other holidays (Fourth of July, Halloween) with their Christmas decorations. 4. A nativity scene represented by cartoon characters or are use of characters that have nothing whatsover to do with Christmas and should not be used in any decorations ever. (see, Pokemon display) 5. Inflatable decorations oversix feet tall. (2003 seemed to be the year of the inflatables. I wonder what trend o' crap the industry will subject us to this year) 6. A line of cars rolls down the block from December 1st until New Years, turning your neighborhood into a tourist attraction. 7. They charge admission. I don't care if it's for charity. It's still tacky. 8. The junk that sits on their lawn all year lawn is turned into instant Christmas decor. 9. Flashing or lighted messages boards whose size rivals that of the Shea Stadium Diamond Vision. 10. They force their kids to re-enact The Night Before Christmas on their lawn every night. 11. They adverstise their display in the local paper. 12. Animatronic Nutcracker Suite. 13. The hired Santa that's supposed to "ho-ho-ho" all night long is going "ho, ho, hic" instead (don't question this, I've seen it happen). 14. Zillions of volts of electricity in the name of Jesus. 15. A new edition for 2004: Anything that's just wrong. We're talking Santa's head skewered on a fork. And I'm not holding you strictly to outdoor decorations this year. Everything is fair game, especially apparel, when it looks like this. You can start sending links now if you got them. It's never too early to make laugh and point. There will be various awards given out to both the decorations and the tipsters who send in the best stuff. Now, I am sending you out into the wild, armed with your cameras to hunt down the perpetrators of any of the above Christmas crimes and report back to me. Rewards to be had for the person who brings in the most offenders. You may also use this opportunity to turn yourself in if you are a guilty party and receive amnesty before one of your neighbors rats on you. I will be out trolling the streets of Long Island, looking for the most tasteless, tacky decorations I can find. Two words: wire cutters. I got 'em and I'm not afraid to use them.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference It's beginning to look a lot like...:

» Tacky Christmas 2004 from Pajama Pundits
I'm going to love this. I know which house I'm going to first and if the orgy of lights isn't already lit, it will be the day after Thanksgiving. [Read More]

» Grab Those Cameras! from Little Miss Attila
Michele is having a contest: She's requesting that you document the ugliest, most over-the-top, excessive and inappropriate Christmas decorations on your local buildings and humans and send them on in. And she links some lovely and grotesque examples, ... [Read More]

» Nothing Says "Christmas" Like An Inflatable Homer from The Grand Staircase
Flying home from San Diego earlier this week I noticed that the broad swathes of Christmas lights on peoples' homes and trees create a visibly different hue to our nation's town and cities when viewed at night from the air. A bit less white-ish, a bi... [Read More]


I've just discovered your blog just today and i find it very interesting I admit that I don't know anything about you yet but that will change,from this day on I'll start following your daily writings

ps:i'm 15 and i live in Belgium

did you notice the black vest witht he trees on it is being sold by a company called the Country Ewe. As in...ew.

When their lights go on, clocks slow down.

My mom's next door neighbor had the full regalia up on Halloween night, complete with flocked tree proudly visible in the front window.

I think that all may violate #3. I'll be sending photographic proof for your approval.

Umm... on that sweater thing:

Am I required to turn in family members? If so, I'd have to turn in my wife, my mother-in-law, my two sister-in-laws, my wife's four female cousins etc. (Must be a southern/town and country thing)

Had I known this was a contest, I would have started taking pictures at the beginning of the year!! There is some retired lady in the next block who decorates for EVERY holiday, even the obscure ones. Ever see a house decorated for St. Patrick's Day? I do believe that she has the Thanksgiving arrangement out currently, but I will check tonight. Her Christmas display has caused a "keeping up with the Jones'" war in the neighborhood, of which I, for one, refuse to get involved with. Last year's tackiest display item: White brick house on the corner had a continuosly running slide show of Norman Rockwell-like pictures projected on the side of thier house.

There's a house on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx that has more Christmas stuff than most sotres do, and it's up all friggin year - sans electicity of course. (No, I am not kidding - I've watched it multiply for 10 years now, even in the summer time they add stuff)

There used to be an awesome house near the Shelter Rock Library off Shelter Rock Road here in Long Island - they had a ferris wheel, merry - go - round, garage full of animatronics, a couple hundred plastic light-up figures, a working oversized train, and the electric company installed a separate line so they wouldn't drain down the neighbor's juice! The thing is - it actually looked incredibly good. Haven't seen it in a few years though - either they moved or got lynched by the town...



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I didn't know a childrens fair ride was a bad thing!

ok, that teletubbies display is just wrong....

Oh goodie! Living down here in tenn brings with it all sorts of opporitunites for bad taste photos.

Do screen shots from co-workers' emails count? I got one today that inexplicably had a reindeer with a dill pickle for a body, doing a little dance.

I can't wait. I'm sending my darling out for new camera batteries now!

I wish I had saved that pic you linked to one time with the giant fork skewering Santa's head outside a restaurant!

and then I continue reading and see it right there .... blah!

In my town, there's a street where everybody decorates lavishly for Christmas - I think it's written into the CC & R's. This street 'changes' it's name to Candy Cane Lane for the duration; the common decorative item to all houses being those 4 ft high candy canes strung with twinkling lights. Actually there is one house, conspicuous with it's absence of and decorations, that sits amongst the explosion of lights, figures, inflatables, etc. I don't know ...maybe they are Jewish and don't celebrate Christmas? Or maybe they are just that damn stubborn and refuse to go along with the rest of the holiday lemmings.

Not to be outdone, the next street over started their own decorating extravaganza; they've reached almost 75% participation. Their theme is 'Lollipop Lane', with oversized suckers (candy ones, not human) wrapped in colored cellophane being the uniting feature.

The traffic moving up and down these streets at 5 mph begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues until Christmas. The one saving grace is that each street corner has a barrel for donating canned goods and other non-perishables which are donated to the local homeless shelter and food lockers.

Trish we have several of those streets in my area.

Up the hill from me, in the area of expensive homes and equestrian trails, the neighborhood puts on elaborate displays..on the weekends the many of the homeowners have fires on the driveways and hand out cookies and hot chocolate. The main street of this extravaganza is "Thoroughbred Lane"...

What's a kick is that about 3 miles downhill in a bit more modest neighborhood there's a street that also puts on a nice display and the handpainted sign at the entrance to the street is "Thoroughbred Lane on a Beer Budget."

As soon as this stuff goes up (Thanksgiving weekend) I'll get some pics...

AFTER I'm done putting up my own lights!

Iowa is the center of the universe for tacky holiday-themed sweaters. Really, people, it is not attractive on anyone, but there are many many women around here large enough to tell the entire "12 Days of Christmas" on their sweaters and they do. HINT: Ladies, it is not slimming.

Hey, feel free to send any pics you receive to uglychristmaslights.com. I'd be more than happy to credit the blog, too.

Just wondering where you are on Long Island. Quite a few of my pictures are from there.

Excellent photos, all of them. The one from uglychristmaslights.com made me ponder a 16th rule: you can't tell if the homeowners are celebrating Christmas or are having a yard sale!

My grandmother is beginning to rival the Griswalds with her lights. Last year, my bro-in-law & I "posed" her lighted yard deer in a mating position.

Grandmother was not amused.

Hey i saw christmas decarations in one store before halloween a mean dont you think its getting too comerical? i mean one day santas going to be competing with the eatser bunny

Tom Monaghan discontinued his frenzied Christmas display at the Pizza Farm in Ann Arbor. Even a multimillionaire can be defeated by the power company ... or did it happen after Tom cashed in his life's work to pursue a second career as a saint? Whatever, the pizza wasn't that good and now the neighbors of Domino's Farms can get to their houses again at night without crashing through the incredible lines of cars. Everybody's happy ... the neighbors, the aesthetes, the petting zoo animals.