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  • Rebecca Nagel

‘Tis the season for good old-fashioned Christmas lights — or is it?

By: Rebecca Nagel


Exactly one year ago, I sat down to write my first article for The Griffin newspaper. My friend, classmate and now Editor-in-Chief Ava Green convinced me to use my tongue-in-cheek writing style to contribute to the newspaper — the way I had already been writing in our college courses together. Sitting down to write my first article, I thought about what hot topic had been running through my head all week when I remembered how much I despised family Christmas cards. I then wrote a controversial hot take on the cliché nature of pasting photos on a card with no personalized words, just “Happy Holiday from the Nagel family,” for example. Receiving tons of feedback from fellow haters and from people with a wholly antithetical perspective, I have decided to continue this series of “Festive or Cliché” with another Christmas tradition — outdoor Christmas decorations.


To start, let’s chat about white string lights. There are two different types of white lights: warm white (which gives off a more yellow/golden hue) and cool white (which emits a blue-like hue). I don’t mind if you use cool white lights on your house, but the warm white lights give the warm glow that is needed during these dark and cold winter months. Now, whether they are festive or cliché? Both warm and cool white lights are festive, as long as you do not mix warm and cool white lights in the same house. Mixing warm and cool white lights should be a crime: my soul shrivels up inside of me when I subject my eyes to a mixture of these lights.


Next up on the decorations list is the topic of inflatables. Most sane Christmas decor fanatics would say “Absolutely not!” to any form of inflatables, but I honestly don’t mind them as long as there are no more than three inflatables on one lawn. Your lawn isn’t even that big, so why is there a need to fill it with air-filled characters that end up getting buried in feet of snow? There isn’t. So, as long as you have three or fewer inflatables on your lawn, I would mark your house as festive and not cliché.


Now, how about those houses that have a singular wreath on the door and one candle in every street-facing window? I honestly get major “Christmas is a Christian holiday that hasn’t stolen anything from paganism” vibes from those houses. The candles are too simple and honestly feel cult-ish. Overall, I think that putting just one singular candle in every window is cliché and far from festive.


Following the candles are multi-color string lights. If you have even taken a moment to glance at Christmas lights, you’ve realized that there are two different types of multi-color/rainbow string lights. One type gives off a golden hue with sprinkles of color, and the other looks more blue/purple with hints of obnoxious color that don’t match whatsoever. The blue/purple ones are such an eyesore and are truly cliché, while the golden lights are more elegant and are ranked as festive on my Christmas decoration scale.


Last and certainly least on the decorations list are laser lights, also known as lazy lights — the most cliché of them all. Sticking a projector into your front lawn and plugging it in should not count as Christmas decorations. We are not at a rave; therefore, I should not have to look at your lasers and tree projections shining onto your house. If you want to use special effects on your house, do so during Halloween. Buy yourself a fog machine and slap some lasers on your house. Just don’t use these effects at Christmastime.


Now, you may be wondering why I have so many opinions on which outdoor Christmas decorations are festive and which are cliché. In response, I would like to explain that my father used to do a huge Christmas light display that was programmed to music. People from all over Buffalo would come to watch our display, so I learned many things over the years. Even though we don’t do the display anymore, I still have a great appreciation for looking at Christmas decorations. In the end, whether you opt for a more festive or cliché route, know that the true magic lies in the joy they bring you and your loved ones this holiday season.


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