Where I live there is a Christmas light competition – and since Christmas is all about the lights (shiny pretty) for me – I like to really try to make the outside look pretty nifty. Well, this is a Stepford type subdivision – every year for the past 3 that I’ve been here, the winners in all 5 categories for the lights have been houses that all looked pretty much the same – traditional green wreaths with red ribbons on every window, spotlights on the front of the houses, and any lights on anything (usually cursory on some shrubs) were white lights – no colors – nothing – always white lights. If you have ever been to a Christmas light show that you paid good money to go and see and all they were to have was white lights you’d probably feel like you got gypped. Where is the life and enthusiasm and sparkle and glimmer and glory that is Christmas – the season of lights! At least that is how I view it.
Probably I should digress a bit here and give a little background. I am an older gal, this is a second marriage after being a widow for 10 years, and my background was having been born and raised in New York City then on Long Island, I moved to Atlanta, GA – major culture shock back then. So now I’m remarried for 2 years (to a man who actually is also from New York – funny – small world for us to meet here in Georgia). Gotta love the on line dating thing! So all those many years before all this, I would decorate my home – typical lights outside – lots of colors. It was a neighborhood that was not what might be considered “1%” more like the “average” kind of place – no home owners association, no swim and tennis club, just a typical working persons family oriented type of low to middle class neighborhood. The man I have married two years ago loves golf – so he happens to have a home on a golf course in a country club neighborhood. After our marriage I moved into his house and it was a different world for me. It and the people who lived here very much reminded me of the movie The Stepford Wives. This was a place where everything was done in almost a Norman Rockwell meets wanna-be-nuveau riche style. I have a very “bohemian” “artsy” free spirited view of myself and my life and my ambitions and preferences – not at all a Stepford wife. Obviously my husband loves me for who I am and is not into having a Stepford wife and really just likes playing golf and living on a golf course, so he is non-judgmental and non-pretentious – which works very well for us. However, it didn’t necessarily seem to fit with how I like to decorate with Christmas lights and the neighborhood standard du jour. I am not an “all white lights” kind of gal at all. Give me color and you have given me joy! So our first year together I went about shopping for the decorations and we put them up and our home was ablaze with color and Christmas zeal. Needless to say, absolutely all the other houses were done in white lights, green wreaths with red ribbons and white spotlights on the houses. Contest is judged and all 5 categories were won by white lighted homes.
Second year comes, once again I’m out there blazing a path to Christmas glory in vivid LED technicolor. That year, as it seemed it would always remain the same, all five categories were won by houses with all white lights; lather rinse repeat from year before – except several of the winners were people who hired professionals to put up their all white lights – humm. By the time this year, my third Christmas here, rolled around, I was of the opinion that it really did not matter to me who won the competition, it was a foregone conclusion that all five categories would be all white lights again, because that was just the way of things here (or so it seemed). I will admit that this year I did add a few more white lights – but only as accents to all the color – white lights in a very long comet’s tail, white lights on two tree trunks that I wrapped, and some white lights on a small tree (but that tree had several large colored lighted balls on it to offset the blandness (in my opinion) of the white lights and to jazz it up.
I think my husband really wanted to win this year, because every year previously many of the neighbors would come by and tell us how much they loved the way out home looked and that we “should” have won because it was always so beautiful. He always seemed disappointed that he thought what we did was nice and beautiful but that no one around here seemed to recognize that to the degree of giving that recognition. Again, I was happy just being in my little world of colorful lighted decorating and didn’t really give it much thought any more that there was even a remote possibility of “winning” . As always, tonight we drove the neighborhood (because tonight was the night to judge the lights, to see what everyone had put up). Low and behold, more homes actually had color – more of the homes actually have started to look non-Stepford. What has happened? Did my persistence in bringing zest and life and sparkle and enthusiasm to my decorating actually rub off around here? Of course, none had as much color as our house does, but to me this was a major step in the right direction! A bold statement and a giant step outside the apparent comfort zone of cookie cutter life. A step I did not think I would see here.
About 2 hours after the judging was to take place I was about ready to call it a night and get ready to shower and go to bed when the doorbell rings. What to my wondering eyes did appear – on my front porch – but three little Stepford Wives, clipboards and flashlights in tow with a giant sign that they stuck into the front lawn – we had won. Now, as I mentioned, there are 5 categories – Best Traditional, Best, Fantasy, Best Childrens, Best Contemporary and Best Unique. We had won – you got it – Best Unique! Of all the categories I must admit that is the one I felt really good about – why – because I recognize that I am very unique – and to me that is a really good thing.
So the bottom line here for me is this – always stay unique – always be your own person – always go after what you want and what makes you happy – stick with it – because – pressure of a Stepford lifestyle or “major awards” aside – what really counts is knowing that you like yourself and what you do and your own choices. What really counts is being able to step back at the end of each day – look in the mirror or look at your life – and say – this is good – it is me – and it makes me happy! If that happy happens to be in the vibrant use of color – you may just find out that it “rubs off” on the people around you – so spread your happiness no matter where you are or what you are doing – in everything you do go for the Zest of the Spectrum of Life!