Christmas, lights

On October 1, I went to a nearby home improvement store. I was going there to find new lights for a new fan we had installed. The lights that came with were a smidge too bright, and so we figured we could get a lower wattage rather than get a sunburn every time we turned on our den light.

It was during this trip I had two very different revelations. First, I had the revelation that I have every time I go to buy light bulbs, in which I channel someone much, much older than I feel and begin complaining about how there are too many light bulb choices, and that it is too hard to tell how bright some of them are.

Why, I remember a simpler time when you got a tiny appliance bulb for the fridge, a 40, 60 or 75 watt white bulb for most of the lights, and a couple of gigantor lights to go in the flood lights outside. Now I don’t know if that time actually did exist, but in my mind it was a very simple and easy time, one when we all carried briefcases and men wore fancy hats and it may have actually been in black and white.

Now, there are aisles of bulbs. There are smart bulbs, which you can change the color of with a voice command. There are bulbs with funky attachment thingees that deviate far from the plain ol’ screw in type that gave us light AND the old “How many X does it take to screw in a light bulb” joke template.

And there are way more ways of measuring the brightness, and I really don’t get a lot of them. The old 40, 60 and 75 watt seemed plenty for me. It was the small, medium and large of light output. 

Eventually, I did what I usually do. I found someone who works there, handed them my current bulb, and said, “Do you have this but in … dimmer?”

In short order I had the dimmer light, which then brings me to my second revelation. As I entered this particular store – remember it was Oct. 1 – I was greeted with a big ol’ winter wonderland. Christmas trees fully lit. Snowmen. A big red mailbox for letters to Santa. A towering polar bear wearing a festive red scarf. Christmas season has kicked off in retail land.

And my revelation – it didn’t bother me. I used to be a purist about the holidays. I love me some Christmas, but I used to be a firm believer that Christmas stuff stays on hold until the day after Thanksgiving. And while I am kinda in that camp loosely for myself, last year was my first time I broke the rule. Not sure if you remember, but 2020 was kind of a long year. So I put up my Christmas lights about a week before Thanksgiving. And it brought me joy. So if others find happiness in it, I say you go be you. 

Personally, I am in Halloween mode for this month. My wife put out our decorations the other day and I love seeing them around the house. And although our kids are now grown, I loved seeing neighborhood kids trick or treating and giving them candy. I also will be putting out my outdoor light that shines on the house with rotating Halloween images that are quite simply just fun.

And when November rolls around, I will up the Halloween decorations, and maybe dip a casual toe in some Christmas here and there. I won’t go all in until Thanksgiving, but I’m also not going not going to begrudge anyone else who does. And if retail outlets find that putting out Christmas stuff early gets ‘em moving off the shelves, hey isn’t that what their whole deal is all about for stores?

I’m just not going to let early Christmas stuff being out be something that bothers me. I’ve got more important things to worry about. Like how to tell how bright a light bulb is. 

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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