Bigstock Photos
Bigstock Photos

Driving around town and looking at the holiday light displays, both public and private, is a common pastime for many families this time of year and one that is greatly anticipated. for many, it has become a family tradition and parents love it as much as the kids do.

It used to be that just about every house on the block put up a display, some more elaborate than others, but it was rare for a house to be devoid of decoration entirely.

Then the energy crisis of the 1970s hit and fuel prices soared.

As soon as that happened, people thought about not only the time and energy it took them to put up the displays, but the energy and cost of the energy the displays consumed.

The numbers seemed to reverse overnight. The once brightly-lit neighborhoods were now mostly dark with only a few houses of lights dotting the night sky. It was no longer an american tradition to light up your house.

Over the ensuing years, the number of homes that were festooned with lights seemed to grow and diminish. The number seemed tethered to fuel prices, jobless rates, and the overall economy. There seemed little pressure for individuals to conform except in isolated neighborhoods. For the most part, whether you decorated simply, extravagantly, or not at all was a personal choice that was met without judgment.

There were the houses that did their lights up big and they attracted lots of visitors. With fewer people decorating, those that went through with the process often saw huge crowds of adoring kids (and adults) walking and driving by to admire their handiwork.To many, it felt like the part of the “magic” of the holidays was once again prevalent.

Decorators did it for themselves and as gifts to others. Most people viewing the displays viewed it as such, but there were others who felt that these lighted displays were ostentatious and a waste of precious energy.

With the advent of LED lights, the cost of energy to run elaborate decorations has dropped. Of course it means buying these energy-saving lights in order to accomplish this, but beyond the initial investment, you still won’t be spending as much money.
As a parent, you often must balance the practical against the delightful. You set budgets for your money and your time as well.

So is decorating the outside of your house a waste of time and energy?

It may be considered wasteful in the sense of not being absolutely necessary, but what other factors are there? Unless you light your place up like Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, you probably aren’t providing enough light for someone to read by.

With LED lights, you don’t even give off enough warmth to warm your frost-bitten fingers by, but what these decorations do warm is the hearts of kids who come by to enjoy them.

If you’re thinking about decorating your home, but you’re concerned that this is a waste of your hard-earned money or time, consider what other activities you’d be spending your time on. Then think about the decorations as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your community. Check with your Internal Guidance System (IGS) and see which feels best to you.

If you feel moved to decorate your home for the holidays then go for it and love the activity! Don’t feel pressured to make it the greatest display on the block; just follow your own heart.

Take this opportunity to involve your kids. It’ll be a fun activity to do together and even though it might take a little longer with their help, you’ll be creating happy memories they’ll cherish in the future.

Kids of all ages can help to varying degrees. You’ll likely keep them off the roof and tall ladders, but there are plenty of ways that kids can help and feel as though they’re part of the festivities. You can start by getting their input on how they’d like to see their house decorated.

Far from being a waste of a parent’s time, this may evolve into a tradition that you share with your kids into their adulthoods. You’ll be giving them a gift and they’ll be giving you one in return, helping you to see the world through childlike eyes. Together, you will be creating happy memories of not only decorating the house, but of seeing other kids’ faces light up as you participate in creating a sense of magic for everyone to enjoy.

Please feel free to comment.
© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.

More from Beliefnet and our partners