Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kratzer's Corner by Mel Kratzer

Christmas Light Viewing 101
By Mel Kratzer
Has the Christmas shopping season depleted your funds from your entertainment column in the worst way? Its time to adapt and implement the cheap date out activity by going Christmas light viewing. A lot of us just get off the highway from work making a bee line straight to our home without checking out the neighborhood decorations. Pile the kids, wife, or significant other into the car and take everyone Christmas light looking. Tonight!
Now with the family in the car for an hour or two Christmas light watching, you may want to set the group’s mood with some merry ol Christmas carols on the radio. That’s not mandatory though as “Jingle Bells” tunes could get old real quick. Go ahead and rock out while Christmas light viewing to some AC/DC, Pearljam, or some Led Zeppelin. I’ve done and it put me in the high-energy festive spirit.
It’s a sure guarantee while you are driving around doing the Christmas light thing, they’ll be a battle over how warm or cold the cars inside temperature should be. Usually my wife likes it as she puts it “toasty” inside. To me it feels like I’m being barbequed in the driver’s seat rotisserie Instead, I like it kind of cool with the chilly air vent blasting air upside my face preventing me from nodding off and slamming into someone’s porch. Every thirty seconds some soul is adjusting the climate control so have a compromising attitude.
When it’s snowing or ice storming, your first reaction is to hunker down inside the nice heat-filled house with your feet warming by the fireplace. Though the roads may resemble an ice rink or ski slope, it still is worth chancing it looking at Christmas lights as they have a special sparkling glistening effect glowing under the frozen precipitation. You’re driving slow to begin with, so spinning out creaming a person’s lawn Santa is a low probability.
Expect when you are slow motioning along taking in the Christmas lights, to have minor disputes or debates about the arrangements. Spending five minutes observing a light set up you like may be like spending five minutes watching paint dry to the backseat passenger. Some give and take on this how long we spend on the lights display will keep a civil car atmosphere.
Quite amazing the length of trouble Christmas light decorators will go to make there illuminated strand stand out. You could have sworn these people hired monkeys to get their lights on treetops and roof gutters. Then again you can tell who put their lights up after chugging the spiked eggnog also.
From near colossal mishap experience, never go out driving to see Christmas lights after going on a soda or water-drinking binge. Never fails that you get lost in one of those rat maze subdivisions with seemingly no way out while you have a full “I gottta go bad” bladder. Crossing your legs while trying to navigate your auto doesn’t work. As you feel like your eyes are turning yellow, you begin to uneasily contemplate whether you might get noticed if you are able to sneak behind that large bush or tree.
Only safety tip I have concerning Christmas light viewing is to stop when taking a long peek. Last thing you want to do is plow into the back of a parked Rolls Royce and spend your Christmas fleeing across the Canadian border from the law. Oh, and stay off the cell phone. Christmas light drivers who talk on that contraption leave their brains in their glove compartment.
When I was a wee young lad, I’d help my pop with the annual light configuration. Untangling the nest like strand was the second hardest part next to locating the burnt out bulb that caused the whole strand to be out. Those lights we put up look primitive caveman- like compared to the modern lights and inflatables they have now covering one’s property.
Every St. Charles area whether it be Main Street, Frenchtown or wherever has its pockets of Christmas light explosions some more than others. Occasionally you will come across a street with “zilch” lights on them. Guess if they did have lights they’d all spell “Humbug”. The economic energy price bug has a bite on us all so you may not see as many light displays as you might have in years’ past. AmerenUE sponsors a Christmas light contest so now you know where your paying the electric bill goes.
When you are finally Christmas lightoutted, I suggest you stop off somewhere, grab a hot cocoa and head over to Jehlings Hardware store to see their massive Christmas light/train display inside. The set up took 9 weeks to complete and will take you around 20 minutes to take it all in. It’s the building on First Capitol with the train caboose in front of it.
Sometimes the simplest things you do in life can be the most fun. I’d say making the Christmas light seeing rounds would fall into that category. It makes my day when my 19-month-old little girl sees Christmas lights swarming a house from the back car seat and says”wow.” Never fails that the kid falls asleep while you are driving. And you keep on driving looking at more Christmas lights. Sort of like coloring the coloring book after your kid has left the room. Happy Holidays to you.
Mel Kratzer