The meat and potatoes of life: Whether tacky or tasteful, whose Christmas decorations are better?

| December 18, 2014 | 1 Comment
The author notes that when her family was stationed in Florida they were told about a neighborhood "with the best decorations ever."

The author notes that when her family was stationed in Florida they were told about a neighborhood “with the best decorations ever.”



Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

You may want to grab a pencil and paper, because I’m about to impart a priceless little jewel of wisdom: There are two sides to every street.

I imagine you are most likely stunned by my remarkable mastery of the obvious, but try to focus on this helpful illustration: On the east end of Anystreet in Anytown, USA, there stands a brick colonial — four bedrooms, faux shutters, window boxes and neatly trimmed hedges.

Homeowner husband Niles Rutheford, at the behest of homeowner wife Brooke, retrieves a stepladder from the garage to hang the seasonal decorations on the house. It is the weekend after Thanksgiving because, of course, it would be gauche to decorate for the holidays any sooner.

While Niles stands on the ladder in his nubuck driving moccasins, Chinos and a loden half-zip lamb’s-wool sweater, Brooke hands him an assortment of pomegranates, pears, magnolia leaves and pine boughs to decorate the arched pediment over the front door.

Sad_ChristmasTree_ko_wTaking care not to scratch her riding boots, Brooke removes the fall bittersweet and decorative cabbage displays from the window boxes, and replaces them with an artful and fragrant arrangement of pineapples, holly berries and eucalyptus.

Preferring Colonial authenticity to garish 20th century light displays, the Ruthefords opt to place a single flickering LED cordless candlestick in each of the front windows. With their holiday decorating completed in just two hours, the Ruthefords head to the Starbucks drive-through in their Range Rover for chai teas and croissants.

On the west end of Anystreet, there stands a classic vinyl-sided split level with three bedrooms, a family room and an apartment in the basement for Aunt Trixie and Uncle Wayne. While homeowner wife Dawn Pachinski goes shopping on Black Friday, homeowner husband Buck and son Cletus take the extension ladder out from under the trampoline, and 17 Rubbermaid tubs filled with outdoor holiday decorations from the shed.

While Cletus inflates the giant rotating snow globe and elf carousel for the front lawn, Buck begins the arduous process of staple-gunning 7,000 lights to the roof, windows, doors, shed, fence, trees and shrubs. At some point, Uncle Wayne joins in to line the driveway with lighted candy canes and set up the 12-piece life-size nativity scene.

After six days of work, four trips to Home Depot, three puncture wounds and one cracked rib, the Pachinski property is a lighted holiday decor masterpiece, complete with computerized musical synchronization to “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” via FM transmitter.

A week later, the Ruthefords receive “Best Holiday Decor” recognition from the Anytown Garden Club, but some residents feel their snooty décor lacks spirit. Conversely, the Pachinskis receive a citation from the Anytown authorities for violating various local ordinances, but every kid in town says the Pachinskis have “the best Christmas lights ever.”

When it comes to holiday decorations, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the author suggests.

When it comes to holiday decorations, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the author suggests.

When we were stationed in Florida, our military friends told us about a local neighborhood with “the best Christmas lights ever.” That night, we packed the kids in the minivan and followed the directions our friends gave us, but were surprised to find a shabby collection of small older homes in a swampy wooded area just off the expressway. We were skeptical, but the long line of cars outside the neighborhood had us intrigued, so we waited.

A few minutes later, we entered the subdivision and were amazed. Somehow, these ambitious swamp dwellers had hung hundreds of strings of lights vertically from the highest tree branches, so that the lights dangled straight down to the ground like electrified stalactites in every color imaginable. The affect was truly magical, and I had to admit, that neighborhood really did have “the best Christmas lights ever.”

OK, now brace yourself for another tidbit of priceless wisdom: Whatever your holiday décor preference, don’t judge, because the beauty of Christmas is in the eye of the beholder.

(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari shares her observations of family life on her website and in military and civilian newspapers, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” at

Tags: , ,

Category: Community

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *