The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

December in Allen

The past week has been spent in restraint. As Thanksgiving approached, a few brave souls jumped the gun and started putting up Christmas decorations. Jodi and I started driving around the neighborhoods and then changed to walking. Every time we returned home, Jodi would race for the garage,  storehouse of all our Christmas decorations. She would want to put just one thing up on the front lawn, something to mark us as “not lame.” I tried to keep her to her philosophy: no decorating until after Thanksgiving.

No sooner had we dropped my sister off at the airport on Friday than we made some quick stops to pick up more lights for the outdoors and we were off to decorating. One of the houses on our block was lit from sidewalk to roof – lighted deer, a cowboy kneeling before a cross, snowmen, candy-cane fencing, lighted wreathes on the facade – and we knew we couldn’t top that. Our goal was to have fun (it’s a married couple bonding experience, I guess) and make the front lawn look festive. Mission accomplished.

I forgot how nice it was to have a lawn you can decorate. We had so much space we had to invest in a lot of outdoor lights for our shrubs. It took a few days to get everything setup right, but after it was done we had a bright, cheery front lawn with candy ornaments hanging from a tree, multi-colored LED lights strung around another tree, shrubs lit in soft white, and two teeter-totters featuring Santa, an elf, and penguins.

The benefit of November/December in Texas is  that it is warm. The days are in the 60s and (until today) sunny, the evenings in the 50s and good for walking. And walk we have. We’ve started taking evening walks after dinner, wandering around the neighborhoods looking for new Christmas lights. Some of the houses in the nearby subdivisions have music and light shows. A tree a few streets over is strung with two helices of white lights, and the golden leaves filling the tree seem to dance with a yellow fire. The house down the street is even more spectacular than it was a few days ago.

So it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas on just about every street around us. It’s very comforting. With all the stresses in our lives now – teaching, research, developing our futures as faculty – we need escapes in our home life to keep us relaxed and focused. Walking, biking, and Christmas lights are definitely filling that need.