Even when I was very young, it was never the presents I looked forward to months in advance, nor the family gatherings, nor the good food. For as long as I can remember, my favorite one of the (generally dubious) American traditions surrounding Christmas was all of the glorious lighting. For one or two months of the year, an intolerably boring night drive became an exciting trip through neighborhood-sized galleries, and the bleak, gray Midwest dusk became a brilliant slo-mo explosion of a thousand hues. Only the same handful of bulb colors sold in every store, but those -- when mixed and intermingled on siding and snowbanks -- were capable of forming every color of the rainbow.

Over only the past ten years or so, this has slowly changed. It must have been a long time ago when some none-too-bright wealthy type decided pure white lights would be more "stately" on his white Victorian house, and acquired some which fit the bill. Were the world fair, this idea would have stopped with his neighbors' laughter and his decision to turn them off, but that apparently didn't happen. Instead, the practice spread pathologically out from his house, a cancer of poor aesthetics leading to the anemia of uniform white lighting.

As of this year it has spread to the point where I can take a long walk or a short drive without seeing anything but bland, colorless white dots. There's no longer any love for dense, nearly random, multicolored mini-lights covering the bushes. Nor is there any for the big, old-fashioned, heavy-duty bulbs strung around a Douglas fir, or solid lines of red and blue highlighting the eaves. Instead there are hundreds of thousands of identical transparent bulbs, sometimes in straight lines but increasingly wired into insipid "icicle" arrangements and stapled wherever is handy. It's nearly enough to nauseate this appreciator of lights.

Short of sneaking into our neighbors' yards and replacing each of their white strands with vividly colored ones, the only thing we can do is lead by example. By removing any white lights from our display and replacing them with attractive (i.e. tasteful) colored lights, we can show everybody who passes that there's a better alternative. The cultural change from colored to white was slow and viral, and is the kind of fashion that only takes a small impetus to swing in the other direction, so consider this a call to action.

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