Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. Growing up we were one of those Christmas families that you would point and laugh at in stores or on the sidewalk. We got way into it. The inside of our house looked like Santa threw up all over the walls in every room. My love of Christmas is probably biggest thing I inherited from my dad, the second being Sasquatch-like body hair. So when my son turned 3 last year it was time for one of the most important traditions to be passed along. The family tradition of setting up the outside Christmas display and talking shit about my neighbors and all their crappy attempts at holiday cheer.
I started by hitting the sidewalk to survey the competition. Not much to speak of, a few lights here and there but nothing to really write home about. This would be a breeze. I then grabbed some colored lights and did a simple display, framing the house, lights in the bushes and around our new pear tree in the front yard. During the process I caught eyes with the guy down the street. He had a couple kids of his own and a very weak display with just a couple lights and some ribbons. I waved and he did what he normally does, looked the other way and walked inside. I seem to have that effect on my neighbors. Maybe I should shower more. My son was super exited and he loved Christmas lights. We went for a drive to look at other houses and I would ask him his favorite and he would say “daddy lights” which made me smile. Everything was great, until we started back down our street and my son blurts out “look, look, there!” I slowly turned my head as we were passing my socially challenged neighbor’s house, and there it was in all its 10 foot tall glowing inflatable glory. Mickey fucking Mouse. That son of a bitch! My son was going crazy with excitement. Before I could even get the words out of my mouth I was shut down. “No way” my wife says from the other seat. Curses! I didn’t even have time to come up with a counter attack strategy. Trumped and devastated we returned home. Every night we had to walk down the street to see Mickey. I could see my neighbor in the window, looking out at us, laughing at his victory. Next year would be different, oh yes, it would be different.
2014 came around and I was ready for action. I have seen enough 80’s holiday movies to plan out a proper Christmas lights battle. Phase 1) I needed to get buy in from the wife. That was easy. The guy down the street never waves to me. Whenever I do, he just turns around and walks back into his garage to lift weights, or more likely, strangle puppies. I made sure my wife was in the car when we drove by his house and waved so she could see him ignore me and bam! She hates the guy and is constantly talking shit about him. Phase 2) The plan. The key move, never put your lights up first. The final addition always wins these wars. I also planned out my display by adding various lawn items to my collection. Nothing wins a child’s love more than light up creatures in the yard. Phase 3) Deployment. Can’t put it all out there at once. Stages work best so you can observe the enemy and counter his moves. Did I mention he shot a bald eagle once? So I waited quietly in the tall grass until he made his move, and right before Thanksgiving, he did.
His first round was simple. He lined the gutters with lights and put out a couple bows. Child’s play to start. Clearly he was trying to bait me but I continued to wait. Two days later, Mickey made his appearance. That inflatable rodent really gets my Irish up. I also noticed a new item, sidewalk candy canes. Little did he know that I already had those and then some. I walked in the house confident. Things were looking good early.
The next day I began my installation. It wasn’t long after starting my setup that I felt it. A cold chill on my neck. I turned my head quick and there he was in his driveway, staring me down, checking out my yard. None of my yard displays were out yet so I am sure he got into his car feeling pretty good, but little did he know what was on the horizon. That evening I put out my Cookie Monster, my Nativity scene, and my Rudolph. We went outside for the official lighting and my son loved it. He ran around the displays and was super excited about all of them. I stood there enjoying my victory when suddenly I hear, “look at that!” Oh shit. I turned my head and there it was, next to Mickey. A fucking ninja turtle. That sneaky leper whore. He was clearly holding that until I finished my display. As we started walking down I saw it. Definitely a ninja turtle. Fuck, it’s Michelangelo. His favorite one. This guy is good. There were also more lights around his tree and some disco style bows above the garage. He even lined the interior of his windows with lights. Looks like Shoulders McBench Press has been a busy little bee. As we walked home I was a bit bitter, but little did he know what was coming.
The next afternoon while my son was at a play-date, I landed the hay-maker to put this to bed. I put the final items on the lawn and waited until nightfall. I then turned on the lights and brought my son outside. When he saw what was there, he ran in circles yelling with glee. Inflatable Darth Vader in a Santa Hat with a light-saber, and Santa Yoda with a big ass candy cane. Mickey was a distant memory, he didn’t even look down the street. Suck it mouse, this is Star Wars Country! We walked inside and I felt vindicated. No way I lost this one. After about an hour I asked my son “Which lights display is better, the Mickey one or the Darth Vader one?” He pauses, smiles, and looks up at me and says “The Mickey One!” That fucking mouse. Next year will be my year. Oh yes, it will be my year. Just a little under 380 days until victory!
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