Recently, while Dave and I were taking a shortcut through the upscale Federal Heights neighborhood on our way to a more low-rent district, I amused myself by critiquing the rich people's outdoor holiday decor.
Now, you'd think with all their disposable income and access to design professionals that the upper-middle gentry would have some clue as to how a very special light display should be executed. Oh, don't get me wrong: They avoided all the major pitfalls of excess common among the lower-middle class (for instance, there are no light-up, inflatable cartoon characters or motion-activated psychedelic light shows in that neighborhood).
Naturally, they also managed to avoid the pitfalls of lack -- there's nothing there to make the viewer feel actively sad, such as a broken candy-cane ornament or the feeble, single-strand-wrapped-halfheartedly-around-a-shrub treatment that is the hallmark of a homeowner who gave up trying years ago.
What I just don't get is how, in this day and age, so many people are still clinging to boring white lights. The all-white-light style became popular in the '80s and '90s and, at the time, was a stunning reaction to the random, multicolored displays that had been around for decades. In those days, using nothing but white lights showed the homeowner was a person of good taste and modern sensibilities.
A lot of Christmases have passed since then, however, and we as a culture have developed a new appreciation of color and artfulness. These days, an all-white-light display signals a homeowner who is timid, desperately afraid of being judged, and has little faith in his/her own creative abilities. It says, "Long ago, I discovered something that works, and I'll stick with it no matter how irritatingly bland it seems today." It says, "I still wear shoulder pads and leg warmers ... occasionally at the same time!" It says, "Please, please ... just unplug me."