Lileks: Why you should put up your holiday lights now

November 9, 2018

According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, putting up the Christmas lights early makes you happy. Science says so. You want to be happy, dont you?

A study found that putting up the lights is a neurological pipeline to warm and fuzzy feelings around your childhood experiences. Odd: Thats just how my wife phrases it every year: Isnt it time you routed out the neurological pipeline?

I get out the lights, which were neatly put away in January but somehow transformed into a spiky bolus shoved into a trash bag. I untangle the mess and test them to see if they work.

They do not work. They never work after sitting for 11 months.

My neurological pipeline closes up like the arteries of someone who starts every morning with a steak-and-bacon smoothie. I realize that the warm and fuzzy feelings around my childhood experiences consist of watching my dad put up the lights. One strand on the gutters, bulbs the size of squirrel skulls. I consider calling him up and asking him if hed come over and drape 300 lights on a tree with a hooked pole, an activity that looks like youre trying to harpoon a raccoon.

It would help flood my neurological pipeline, Id say. Think of a straw in my head thats accessing the rich hot chocolate of memories. What? No, I havent been drinking.

I believe the study, though. Putting up the lights makes you happy because youre done, and you dont have to sublimate your interior growls at the neighbor who flips a switch on Thanksgiving and its Times Square with motion-activated snowmen who ho-ho-ho and wave a broom.

The lights help you get into the Christmas spirit, of course, and you are flooded with fuzzy feelings ... No, thats the Nyquil.

Well, it might make me happy, but Im still waiting until after Thanksgiving. This is our first Christmas as empty-nesters, with Daughter away in Brazil. To be honest, the neurological pipeline is connected to memories of her warm and fuzzy Christmases, and its unlikely Ill do a jig on the stoop because I draped some Chinese electrical equipment over a bush and remembered getting a Lost in Space toy in 1967.

If we do put them up today, Ill be happy to tick it off my to-do list, but then the neighbors will groan because weve set a new standard. A few might show up to complain. And Id grab a placard and join them. Despite the store displays and the mall music, its not beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Yet.

Note: Halloween lights are orange. If you leave them up, you can tell the neighbors that theyre Thanksgiving lights. Me, I get all warm and fuzzy thinking about childhood yams. Dont you?

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