Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Lights: White or Multi-Colored?

When I was a little kid in the sixties, nearly everyone used multi-colored strings of lights for their Christmas decorating. Strands with small bulbs were used on the indoor trees, sometimes the blinking kind, while most people used the large-bulbed strands to outline the house with. We even had two large Christmas candle lights, that stood three feet high, which we placed on either side of the front door. My welder grandfather had made these out of lead pipe back in the 1940s and they had huge flame-shaped lightbulbs that I still have no idea where my parents got the bulbs from.

I remember as a kid sitting under the Christmas tree with all the lights in the room turned off, so I could enjoy the beautiful pattern the multi-colored lights made in the otherwise dark room. Doing so always put me into the Christmas spirit, making me look forward that much more to Christmas morning.

But in the seventies, many people got the idea that using multi colored lights, especially the ones with the large bulbs, were not tasteful, but were actually quite tacky. These same people began using white lights exclusively for their Christmas decorating -- on their Christmas trees and everything they lighted outdoors. Some went the minimalist route, confining lights to the Christmas tree only, with a single white-lighted electric candle in each of the front facing windows, and nothing outdoors.

My family continued using the small multi colored lights for the Christmas tree, but we'd always used the white lighted candles in the windows, simply because they looked the most like real candles. With my grandfather's outdoor candles, we usually had a pine tree outdoors with a strand or two of the large colored lights on it. We didn't go overboard with the outdoor decorations -- nothing we did gave the electric company orgasms, but what we did was colorful.

Nowadays, I see more and more people doing the all-white light thing, but the amount of lighting has increased. Similarly, the colored light crowd is still holding its own, though in recent years I've seen strands with all one color lights: green, red, blue, purple, orange, and so on. People that use those, usually combine them with white light strands.

Personally, I'm in the colored lights camp. Nothing says Christmas to me like the strands of multi colored lights I remember from my childhood. I still get the same feeling I did back then when I see them. Sometimes, it's a bit gaudy, but lights on their own are never tacky.

White lights, on the other hand, are the same color as what you see year-round in your lamps and other types of everyday lighting. There's nothing particularly festive or Christmas-y about them, unlike the colored lights, which are seen only at Christmas time.

Though I like to see the white lights combined with single-colored strands of colored lights, seeing a home decorated solely in white lights leaves me cold. There's something sterile and ho-hum about them, not to mention the snobby, pretentious aura they can have on an expensive home that says, "more tasteful than thou."



D.K. said...

I'm all about the multi-colored! And non-blinking.

Melissa said...

I love the colored lights, not blinking. White lights are pretty on a Victorian type of tree, but I just prefer colored lights myself.

Kathy Frederick said...

Colored, all the way! That is, when I actually have a tree in the house, which is almost never because of my cats. White lights are for the rest of the year, absolutely.