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National Editorials & Columns

Christmas lights, camera, action

“You can see it from space!” Kirby complained about his next-door neighbor’s Christmas lawn display. In his living room, at 9 p.m., with the curtains drawn and the lights off, it was as bright as daylight. The only difference was that daylight doesn’t twinkle and blink in different colors.

“Did you see the six wise men?” he asked.

“I thought there were only three wise men,” I said.

“It started out with three – until another three went on sale right after Christmas last year. And what did you think of their camel train?”

“Is that what that is supposed to be? I thought they were creatures from ‘Star Wars.’ I wondered what that had to do with Christmas.”

Normally, I like Christmas lights. It gets dark so early in the winter that it’s cheery to see the outlines of houses, the multicolored lights in the shrubberies, a roly-poly Santa waving at me.

Then there was an earthshaking thud. I ran to get under a doorway, thinking the house was about to collapse around us. Kirby just sat there. I yelled at him to run for cover while he still could.

“It’s not an earthquake,” he said. “It’s the ‘Little Drummer Boy’ segment starting up.”

“That isn’t a drum, it’s artillery.”

“No, Barry’s turned his entire roof into a speaker. Wait until you hear ‘Silent Night.’ It’s done by a marching band of life-size mechanical tin soldiers.”

What I had mistaken for a natural disaster was starting to vaguely sound like a booming pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

“I know this will sound as if I don’t have any Christmas spirit, but can’t you put out a hit on your neighbor? Just have somebody whack him?”

“No, because then I’ll look like the bad guy.”

“People can be so judgmental.”

“Especially this time of year. Do you want to sleep on the sofa?”

“Why would I sleep on the sofa? I’m going home to get some quiet.”

“I don’t think so. Take a look outside.” There was a solid line of cars snaking slowly through his subdivision past his house.

“That’s all right; someone will let me through.”

“Really? I sat there for two hours last night before I was able to get out. But only because some woman who was taking pictures with her cellphone dropped it and stopped for a second to look for it.”

• Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.

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