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Deck Those Halls
By Dave Kiffer


December 04, 2004

Ketchikan, Alaska - Okay, it is after Thanksgiving, you may now put up your Christmas lights!

I certainly don't want to be a Grinch about spreading the holiday cheer, but it has come to my attention that holiday lights have been going up earlier and earlier each year.

jpg Dave Kiffer

I don't mean the ones that stay on the eaves year-round because it's a pain in the tookus to take them down. I appreciate the personal energy conservation strategy (lethargy) that leads to "oh dang, just leave them there until next year." Heck, I'd even engage in that strategy around my homestead if I wasn't too lazy to put up those eave lights in the first

What I can't abide is the mindset of "Hey it's the day after Halloween, string up the Christmas lights!" I like to take my holidays in order and I believe that Thanksgiving still comes between Halloween and Christmas. And I would be very thankful if folks kept to the schedule, even if I did notice a large local retailer playing Christmas music in September this year.

Oddly enough, this year I saw fewer Christmas displays before Halloween than I did last year. The reason? There were a whole bunch more Halloween displays. Just about every neighborhood had an giant inflatable pumpkin on someone's lawn. One house even had what appeared to be an orange snowman on its porch. Must have been Frosty the Creamsicle.

Back in the day (or "in the days of yore" if you prefer), we didn't do that much for Halloween. Maybe some candles, a flaming pumpkin or two, or one of those cute sculptures that make it look like a Witch had flown into one of the trees in your front yard. That was about it. It was only the day after Halloween that one noticed the creative draping of toilet paper around town and the occasional egg or pumpkin splatter, but that's another story.

But now it seems that we have been convinced by the purveyors of electric house decorations that we must now also celebrate Halloween by stringing up orange lights, erecting a giant laser-light goblin and sending the KPU electric bill into hyper-drive.

I suppose that one could argue that it lends a little color to the dark, dreary fall and that's true. Some days, it feels like it's getting dark around noon and that makes it harder and harder to stay awake until the inevitable 4 p.m. desknap.

But what is the real plot here? I used to think that employees of KPU got a power discount, like the workers at McDonalds get food discounts. That would explain how some folks could afford to string three or four megawatts worth of lights from one end of their homes to the other, creating giant vacillating tapestries including all eight wise men and the three reindeer, or something like that.

Unfortunately, I fear the plot may be even more sinister. Could it be that the local electrical utility has a sweetheart deal with local retailers offering them power discounts if they conspire to jack up everyone else's utility usage? The truth remains way, way out there.

I guess I should be thankful that they haven't come up with 13 foot high turkeys and Greyhound bus length long cornucopias to install each November. Then again, I hope I'm not giving them any ideas.

At any rate (say about six cents a kilowatt hour), I need to get out in the yard and start stringing up the lights. I have heard that if I don't increase my usage soon, everyone else's rates will be going up to make up the shortfall and I wouldn't want to be the cause of so much holiday dis-cheer. If that happens, the lights won't be the only thing strung up this year around the old homestead.


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Dave Kiffer ©2004

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