Each year around this time many people begin to hang outdoor lights on their houses and trees and put all sorts of inflatable and lighted structures on their lawns. We do the same thing, only without the inflatable and lighted structures ( we used to do those, but not any more). Our display is lights only. And there are rules. Some may say that I am anal about these rules. Yes I am! And what, you may ask, are my rules? I’m glad you asked.
1. The lights are turned on Thanksgiving night, no sooner.
2. The lights are turned off New Years day, no later.
3. The lights shine from 5:30 pm until midnight, no longer.
Needless to say, not everyone got the memo/e-mail about the rules, or if they did, they just decided not to honor them.
However, every year during the week before Thanksgiving (except for this year because the weather was so cold), Agustin and I spend a couple of days hanging lights on the fence line, on our house, and on the barn. The whole process including the installation of lights, attaching electrical chords, and setting timers takes about 8 hours. I call them lights of the season, but Agustin calls them luces de Navidad. I would love to have them all come on at exactly the same time, but coordinating 5 different timers is a task far beyond my capabilities.
In case you are wondering, the total number of lights on the fence in front of our property and down the driveway is 1325. The lights on the fence are attached with 300 “zip ties.” I know the proper name for these is cable ties, but I like the “ziiiip” sound they make, so I call them “zip ties.” The number of lights on the house and barn combined is 308. We used to have luminaries around the big tree and on the driveway in front of our house and the barn, but that was very labor intensive, so they are no longer installed. We also had an inflatable Santa and mechanical reindeer.
One year, Regina and I were returning home after a dinner out, when we noticed that all the lights on our property were out, as well as all the lights in the entire neighborhood. I was afraid that our lights had blown out a whole transformer, but luckily that wasn’t the case.
What is the purpose of all these lights? In our case it is the celebration of the Winter Solstice. In ancient Pagan customs, the sun god, who had died at Samhain, was reborn on the Winter Solstice. The people lit candles and burned great bonfires to entice the sun to return to warm and nourish the earth. Since we are concerned about burning our house and barn to the ground, we just put up enough lights to make it look like a bonfire.
So, Happy Solstice, Season’s Greetings, and let your light(s) shine for others to see. And please follow the rules!