• One of my favorite Holiday Season pastimes is driving around admiring Christmas lights. In other words, wasting lots of fuel in order to enjoy the creative ways my neighbors have chosen to waste lots of electricity.

    But just how long should my neighbors leave their lights up? My dear friend Mark is of the opinion that Christmas lights are for Christmas. The moment Santa and his reindeer take off, he believes, you should be up on the ladder taking them down.

    My friend Bill feels otherwise, which is why he just posted this notice on his Facebook page:  I hate the dark cold months of January and February. Therefore, I plan to leave my holiday lights up until March this year, and use them to ward off the winter gloom. Just consider them “Winter Lights” and don’t assume I’m lazy.

    He quickly received a variety of responses:

    I LOVE seeing lights through the winter. Thank you.  

    Yes! Everyone should do this. Hate the short dark days. Love the lights!

    Great idea! I may do the same.

    I always want everyone to keep their lights up to get us through the dreary months. Hope you’ll become a trendsetter! 

    We’re always the last house to take down our lights. We, too, consider them Winter Lights.  We’ll take down the wreathes and bows, and retire our freestanding electronic Rudolph so that things looks less Christmassy, but we keep the lights on to cheer everyone up. Glad you are joining us. 

    We have two neighbors who compete every year as to who’ll be the last to take their lights down. One made it to April last year, lights still burning brightly.  

    We’re not taking ours down for months either. Welcome to the dark side! (So to speak…)

    Of course, Bill also received a touch of sarcasm along with his Christmas cheer:

    So you’re going to be “that guy.”  

    I’m sure your electric company applauds your decision.

    Inspired by Bill’s example, I asked my own Facebook friends:  When do you take your Christmas lights down? The day after Christmas? Two weeks after Christmas? Never? And when do you think your neighbors should take THEIRS down?

    Some of my friends, as it turns out, are proud members of Team Bill: 

    I’d love to see lights up all through the winter. They make the cold and dark more palatable. 

    When do our  Christmas lights come down? Valentine’s Day! The same day we get rid of the Christmas tree.

    Others observe The Twelve Days of Christmas:  

    For my family, Christmas Day means the end of the commercial frenzy and the true beginning of Christmas. We keep our lights up for all Twelve Days of Christmas, through January 6th 

    We too observe the Twelve Days of Christmas. Our stuff should come down  on January 7th. (Although that’s a Tuesday, so they’ll probably stay up through the 10th. At least.)    

    The Twelve Days of Christmas works for us. (And Russian Orthodox don’t celebrate Christmas until January 6th or 7th, so be understanding if you have Russian neighbors.) 

    I agree with the Twelve Days of Christmas concept, but I’m already itching to take mine down. It’s too cluttered around here, and all the extra glitter has me teetering on the edge.

    Other Christmas light removal plans are  more ad hoc:   

    They have to stay up until the Wise Men get there. Or they won’t be able to find their way! 

    The sooner they come down, the better. Have to make room for the next holiday!  

    When it comes to when the neighbors should take down THEIR lights, my friends, embraced the Christmas spirit and were delightfully flexible:

    When should the neighbors take down their lights? Their call not mine.  

    If the neighbors are giving it the full Las Vegas treatment, that could be a problem. Otherwise, I trust them to use their intelligence guided by their experience. 

    When should the neighbors take their lights down? Whenever they feel like it. Their house, their biz. 

    I also received a touch of bah humbug:

    Christmas lights should never be installed in the first place. Waste of electricity.  

    You shouldn’t need a light bulb to remind you that it’s Christmas time.  

    When should the Christmas lights come down? Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.   

    To me, Christmas lights are just light pollution. I’d rather see the stars.

    But the final word goes to the friend who has found a way to celebrate both Christmas and her companion animals:     

    When do our holiday decorations come down? Never! We keep the tree in the corner year round for the cats to play with. And light it on special occasions. 

    So what do I do about holiday lights myself? I’m Jewish, which makes it simple. The menorah’s candles glow in the window for the 8 nights of Hanukkah, after which it goes back in the cupboard until next year. No Christmas tree, rooftop festooned with holiday lights, inflatable life-sized Santa or electric lawn elves for me.

    But I still love a fabulous Christmas light show. Which is why I‘m heading  over to Bill’s house. Perhaps I‘ll see you there.

    Rosalind Warren (aka Roz Warren)

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    Article by: Roz Warren

    Roz Warren (www.Rosalindwarren.com) writes for the Funny Times, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward, Reader’s Digest and the Huffington Post. And she’s been on both the Today Show and Morning Edition. Roz is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR, which collects her most popular essays about library work.

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    1. sam3289@yahoo.com' Anonymous says:

      Rules:
      1. Don’t put them up before December.
      2. Take them down anytime after New Year’s Day and before Epiphany.

    2. mernaschneider@aol.com' Merma says:

      In New Orleans the done thing is to take it down on 12th Night(January 6).
      If you want to take away any blatantly Christmas decorations though and put up Mardi Gras theme,nay even change your tree theme out to Carnival then by all means leave it up. I take mine down the day after Christmas coz it is so easy to let time get away from you especially when it is often colder here after Christmas than at Christmas.

    3. We have “winter lights,” just like Bill! I just wrote about them on my blog, and included a mention of this article, with the link. l loved it – and I’m happy to know we are not the only ones still lighting up the night!

    4. Cynthiasayer@gmail.com' Cynthia says:

      Great article! Thank you!

    5. emily.kelting@yahoo.com' Emily Kelting says:

      I didn’t put any lights up this year because I am moving. But I really missed everything about it… getting the roping and stringing the lights along the front fence, putting greens and hollies with berries in the 7 window boxes on the front of the house, and festooning the fireplace mantle inside with yet another garland. (I tend to overdecorate.)
      I missed coming home to the lights at my house, yet many of my neighbors still have their lights up, and for that I am grateful.

    6. kelly.siderio@gmail.com' Kelly says:

      I like Christmas lights so I would say keep them up til the end of January!

    7. genre1837@aol.com' Mister Wonderful says:

      Wonderful!

    8. Great post. We are Catholic so we observe all twelve days of Christmas. Like the rich traditions of the Jewish faith, we get to celebrate all the beautiful feast days. I like Bill’s idea, too because the joy and light of the season should continue to lift our spirits and illuminate our world.

    9. mykeandboomie@gmail.com' Myke Todd says:

      I enjoyed this. It was humorous and helpful… I really should take my tree down now.

    10. As a fellow Jew, I find it hard to judge anyone on when they put up or take down their lights. That being said, Thanksgiving to New Year’s seems about right to keep Christmas lights burning!

    11. Just tonight, as we walked through Rittenhouse Square, I told my husband that I wished they would leave the lovely white light globes in the trees up all year and just add some colored ones during the holiday season. February can be so grim.

    12. Ahh… we just finished putting all our Christmas decorations away. I was more reluctant to do it this year than usual (we usually do it before New Year’s Day), but it had to go. We don’t do outdoor lights; only indoor decor — because the roof lines and windows would be hell to adorn with lights.

    13. haralee@haralee.com' Haralee says:

      I took a bike ride Christmas morning and saw a few neighbors chucking their trees and taking off their lights. One family was headed the next day for a vacation and the other had their college age kids home to help so those were their reasons for their haste. I like how bright the neighborhood looks with lights and once they are down it appears even darker than ever. See you at Bill’s home!

    14. I am a party pooper, and I don’t put up lights. A woman in our neighborhood actually asked my daughter if we were really Christian because we failed to put up any exterior Christmas decorations. (!?). I told her, “We’re Christian; I’m just lazy.” But I do delight in the decorations that others have on display. If I did decorate, I would take my lights down by New Year’s Day. But to each their own.

      1. rozspam@aol.com' Roz Warren says:

        The idea that your neighbor might think you weren’t Christians because you didn’t put up Christmas decorations just fascinates me. It’s a funny world.

    15. Since we are about the only house on our street with no Christmas lights, I do love seeing them. Some people keep the white ones up all year. They are very pretty, and since we have no street lights they light our way a little better, too.

    16. Roz cmon over! I leave mine up into March all the time. Lights tree wreath the works. I love the look and it hurts no one while sprucing up what can be a cold gray season sometimes. I never get everything up much before mid-Dec only because I am so busy end of semester with the college classes I teach. So yea…leave everything up for awhile! 🙂

      1. rozspam@aol.com' Roz Warren says:

        Thanks, Telly! I’ll be right there!

        1. Ooooooh! What a treat that would be!

    17. You are not late in taking your Christmas lights down. You are 354 days early. Good for you.

    18. I say take them down ASAP! And don’t put them up before Thanksgiving weekend.