December 09, 2009

The Christmas Compromise

Every December since we moved in with Melisa's parents, there has been a little war regarding the displaying of Christmas Decorations. While Brenda (Mel's Mom) prefers tasteful wreaths in the front windows, Melissa's style has been for strings of lights all over and small light-up animals. It's not just conflicting tastes, there is a tradition on this street of a "Progressive Dinner" wherein people on the street start with appetizers at one house, then "progress" with each course to other houses. For many of the women, this is a chance to peek inside people's houses, and to show off their own. So there is a little pride at stake here, and a Motorized Pink Flamingo in the front yard would be the equivalent of that piece of toilet paper stuck to the shoe of an otherwise elegantly-dressed woman.

In the past, we have come home to find that our decorations had been temporarily removed for the dinner, and we had to put them out again after it was over. This year, things are a bit different. Since Melissa doesn't get out much to see these lights, we thought that we'd put all of our gaudy lights in the back yard, where Mel can see them from her window.

From our computer desk, where Mel spends most of her day, she has a nice view of the back yard with lots of trees. There are also lots of interesting birds, since we put four different bird feeders in the tree nearest to her window.
Melissa's View

The first order of business was to string lights across the fence in the back. Only problem was that the fence is actually in the yard of the people behind us. These people were rich, and there house was amazing, so I wasn't sure how they'd react to my idea of putting chintzy decorations from TARGET in their rear view. Saturday morning, I walked around the block to see if I could convince them. Their house is incredible, it's a very faithful re-creation of historical colonial homes you might find lovingly kept up in Virginia. It took me a while to work up the nerve to knock, and I almost had walked away when a 50-something man answered the door.

I started out "you don't really know me, but my wife and I live with her parents in the house behind you. And I was wondering if I could ask a small favor of you." It was cold and he invited me inside for a moment so we could talk. Wow. I found out later that Southern Living did a feature article on this place because it was incredible inside. I don't usually go on about stuff like houses or decor, but this place was just so... perfect. His name was Jim Williams, (just like MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL) He told me that he actually did know about Mel and our situation and we talked about her for a little while. He thought it would be wonderful to have lights on the fence, it would improve their view at night. The guy really was nice and said if there was anything he could ever do for Melissa, just let him know.

I sighed a little relief, headed back and unpacked our lights from the basement. It took a little while to set up, but I think Melissa was thrilled with the results:

Backyard Lights
In addition to the fence, I made that pine-and-ivy island into a star, with her animals in the middle, and wrapped the tree with some multi's. Came out pretty good, I think.

Penguin Sentry

Bright Flamingo Christmas Pig

Fence Lights Rudy

Mrs. Williams came down to the fence to talk to Brenda while she was walking the dog, and despite my fears, she said she LOVED the pig and the other animals.

So finally, Mel and her mom have reached a Christmas Compromise: We have our tacky lights in the back, and Brenda has her respectable decorated wreaths in front. I feel like I just negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine here.