Does this photo give you pause? And not just about the tackiness of such holiday overkill but about the waste of energy, the gift of carbon emissions this homeowner is giving to their community? Yeah, me, too.
Even when the display is more restrained and tasteful like this next one, it still raises the red flags of environmental incorrectness because we’ve passed a tipping point about all things energy, and nowadays even Al Gore gets attacked for excessive square footage.
Speaking of the Goracle, he naturally was blamed (by Bill O’Reilly, so consider the source) when the town council of Great Barrington, Massachusetts voted to scale back its display of "holiday lights" out of concern for the environment.
So could festive outdoor lighting be doomed in the age of global warming? Consider the effect on the collective consciousness, especially here in the northern hemisphere where it’s dark and gloomy this time of year. And paradoxically, holidays are depressing for many of us and we NEED all that light and color and the public cheerfulness of even the tackiest of displays. Okay, I need it.
But I needn’t have worried because once again, technology comes to the rescue in the form of LED (light-emitting diode) lights. They last 80,000 hours compared to 2,000 for incandescents, use 1/4 the energy, and present much less fire hazard due to their relative coolness. National savings compared to incandescent mini-lights are estimated to be $100 million in energy costs every year and 144,000 fewer tons of carbon emissions. If even half the incandescents replaced are not minis but full-size (typical of outdoor lights), the savings are more like $375 million and 470,000 tons every Christmas. Rockefeller Center has switched to LEDs and looks as glorious as ever.
Another trend in holiday decorations noted by industry-watchers is more variety in "blow-up lawn art," like Santa on a motorcycle. So not to worry – delicious tackiness will always be with us, and with more variety!
However glorious those blow-ups may be (or not), here’s hoping that technology continues to solve the problems and allow us to brighten our spirits when we need it most. Imagine what these urban scenes must look like without those lights.
And Merry Christmas to all our Christmas-observing readers, from the GardenRanters.
Photo credits: top, by Blue Ridge Laughing in Richmond, VA; next, taken at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, PA by ListenToReason; next, taken in Waterford, Ireland by Wmgc; finally, in Kansas City by Kansas Explorer.
Browse another 200,000 or so photos of "Christmas lights" on Flickr.