82. When Should the Christmas Lights Come Down?

82. When Should the Christmas Lights Come Down?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

When Should the Christmas Lights Come Down?

Christmas is not about the lights — and it is.

~Author Unknown

One of my favorite holiday season pastimes is driving around admiring Christmas lights. In other words, wasting lots of fuel in order to enjoy the creative ways my neighbors have chosen to waste lots of electricity.

But just how long should my neighbors leave their lights up? My friend Mark is of the opinion that Christmas lights are for Christmas. The moment Santa and his reindeer finish their rounds, he believes, you should be up on the ladder taking the lights down.

My friend Bill feels otherwise, which is why he just posted this notice on his Facebook page: “I hate the dark cold months of January and February. Therefore, I plan to leave my holiday lights up until March this year, and use them to ward off the winter gloom. Just consider them ‘Winter Lights’ and don’t assume I’m lazy.”

He quickly received a variety of responses:

“I LOVE seeing lights through the winter. Thank you.”

“Yes! Everyone should do this. Hate the short dark days. Love the lights!”

“Great idea! I may do the same.”

“I always want everyone to keep their lights up to get us through the dreary months. Hope you’ll become a trendsetter!”

“We’re always the last house to take ours down. We’ll take down the wreaths and bows, and retire our freestanding electronic Rudolph so that things look less Christmassy, but we keep the lights on to cheer everyone up. Glad you are joining us.”

“We have two neighbors who compete every year as to who’ll be the last to take their lights down. One made it to April last year, still burning brightly.”

“We’re not taking ours down for months either. Welcome to the dark side! (So to speak…)”

Of course, Bill also received a touch of sarcasm along with his Christmas cheer:

“So you’re going to be ‘that guy.’ I’m sure your electric company applauds your decision.”

Inspired by Bill’s example, I asked my own Facebook friends: When do you take your Christmas lights down? The day after Christmas? Two weeks after Christmas? Never? And when do you think your neighbors should take THEIRS down?

Some of my friends, as it turns out, are proud members of Team Bill:

“I’d love to see lights up all through the winter. They make the cold and dark more palatable.”

“When do our Christmas lights come down? The same day we get rid of the Christmas tree… on Valentine’s Day!”

“For my family, Christmas Day means the end of the commercial frenzy and the true beginning of Christmas. We keep our lights up for all Twelve Days of Christmas, through January 6th.”

While I agree with the Twelve Days of Christmas concept, I’m already itching to take mine down. It’s too cluttered around here, and all the extra glitter has me teetering on the edge.

Other Christmas light removal plans are more ad hoc:

“They have to stay up until the Wise Men get there. Or they won’t be able to find their way!”

“The sooner they come down, the better. Have to make room for the next holiday!”

As for the question of when the neighbors should take down THEIR lights?

“Whenever they feel like it. Their house, their call.”

“If the neighbors are giving it the full Las Vegas treatment, that could be a problem. Otherwise, I trust them to use their intelligence guided by their experience.”

I also received a touch of bah humbug:

“Christmas lights should never be installed in the first place. Waste of electricity.”

“I don’t need a light bulb to remind me that it’s Christmas.”

“When should the Christmas lights come down? Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“To me, Christmas lights are just light pollution. I’d rather see the stars.”

But the final word goes to the friend who has found a way to celebrate both Christmas and her companion animals:

“When do our holiday decorations come down? Never! We keep the tree in the corner year round for the cats to play with. And light it on special occasions.”

So what do I do about holiday lights myself? I’m Jewish, which makes it simple. The menorah’s candles glow in the window for the eight nights of Hanukkah, after which it goes back in the cupboard until next year. No Christmas tree, rooftop festooned with holiday lights, inflatable life-sized Santa or electric lawn elves for me.

But I still love a fabulous Christmas light show. Which is why I’m heading over to Bill’s house. Maybe I’ll see you there.

~Roz Warren

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