Category Archives: Christmas Lights

The Night Returns – 2021

I’ve pointed out before that the first night after the Christmas lights come down is always a melancholy and bittersweet one. This year the task of taking down the lights was made more “exciting” with a bit of wind. I decided to take it with a bit of good humor.

Not to worry – nothing bent, nothing broken, on either me or the BBQ.

It’s amazing that it takes about three days for me to put up the lights and about three hours to take them down. I’m sure there’s some mathematical theory that explains that, probably dealing with chaos theory, increasing entropy, organized vs disorganized eigenstate vectors, or some such jargon. It just always seems weird to me.

And so, at the end of the day (literally) we’re left with just the porch and garage lights and Orion rising, partially hidden by that giant tree in the back yard.



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Adios, 2020

Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split ‘ya!

But with the Great Conjunction gone and the new year on the doorstep, it’s time to try to capture a moment, before the lights come down next week and while Orion and the full Moon are where I need them to be.

Be safe tonight – we’ll see you in 2021 for a better year.

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Christmas Eve 2020

It’s Christmas Eve, 2020. Our break from work for a few days started today, so I got the last of the lights up, just in time to guide Santa in tonight while hopefully not distracting any Southwest 737s going into Burbank.

Up above it’s still cloudy, but there’s a bright-ish spot where the Moon’s trying to peek through.

And down the street, several other houses have decorated this year.

I don’t remember most of those houses having any lights in the previous two years that we’ve been here. Down the hill the other way there are a couple of places decorated as well, which didn’t happen in the past.

Maybe folks just really, really needed the lights this year.

I hope that you and yours have a safe and joyous Christmas tomorrow!


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The 2020 Christmas Tree

We all know that the year sucked. But we’re desperately trying to keep some sense of normalcy in our Christmas decorating – primarily because it’s a last ditch attempt to submit to the horror and ennui.

Today was the day we put up the tree. I tried to play with the process a bit in some Facebook posts.

The first thing I noticed is that it seemed much shorter than in previous years. First troubleshooting step is to assume operator error!

Taller now, but seems to be strangely darker and less festive than nominal…

Very much better, complete with white lights, colored lights, bubble lights, and the most eclectic mix of ornaments covering nearly forty years that you’ve ever seen. No “theme” here (I remember a year as a child when my mother went nuts on a theme and got a white flocked tree, no green at all, and then put red spherical ornaments all over – it was very Malaria Trump-ish) other than the theme of “This Is The Willett Family History.”

One new ornament that I just got (after seeing a pilot/JPL acquaintance on Twitter get one and show it off):

Finally, this year we got the tree set up properly in the middle of the living room show window that looks out onto the front yard and street.


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At least, I think it’s a hibiscus.

In the summer it’s covered in these bright red flowers.

Now, it has a few.

But it’s a GREAT plant on the side of the house to hang Christmas lights on!

Lots of good surface area with lots of branches capable of bearing the weight of a string of lights. PERFECT!!

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2020 Christmas Lights – Round Two

A number of factors are slowing things down more noticeably this year when it comes to putting up the Christmas lights.

First, I find that I’m feeling old. Maybe it’s just the effects of almost nine months of COVID lockdown that’s limited my physical movements, and the Thanksgiving week diet that’s put a half dozen pounds back on, but it might also be related to the percentage of grey vs black hair on my head.

Secondly, it’s just me. Way back when of course it was always a family affair with all three kids helping, and even in the past few years the Youngest Daughter usually came by for a day and helped since she still lives in LA. Naturally, again due to COVID, she’s not stopping by this year.

Third, it’s infrastructure! We’re renting instead of owning, and over the course of almost thirty years we had a lot of little hooks and nails and power cords and a routine that made even a much bigger display go up quickly. I can’t do that in a rented house, so I’ve created temporary attachment points for lights using nylon twist ties. That worked well for two years, but I’m finding that many of those nylon ties are breaking when I try to use them this year, so I have to take the time to put up new ones.

Finally, my decorations are getting older and more fragile even faster than my body is. I won’t put up strings of lights that have sections burnt out, and I’m finding a fair amount of the ones I put up last year that are failing this year. I don’t really want to go off to the hardware store to get new ones (COVID!!) so sorting through the bins of old lights and cobbling together new sets that all work is time consuming.

Oh, well. I guess it keeps me off the streets at night.

I did manage to get all of the timers set, went through the big bulbs along the roof line and replaced a few that had burnt out, and got several strings of lights out into the bushes and plants along the front of the house. I didn’t get to the big, bright strings that normally go over the garage (the big dark area on the left in the picture), mainly because I can’t find them yet. Maybe this next weekend.

In the meantime, it’s getting there, not terrible, just not finished yet. But I did get the full moon rising over the house last night, so that was pretty sweet.


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2020 Christmas Lights – Round One

As much as I had thought about starting Christmas lights a week or even several weeks early this year (because 2020 = SUCKS while Christmas lights = anti-SUCKS, in case that wasn’t obvious), the intentions might have been good but the work load and that whole “only 24 hours in the day and that’s the LAW!” thing sort of ruled that out. But now it’s after Thanksgiving, the normal time for starting to put up lights, in no small part because there’s a four-day weekend, so off we go!

I got up about half of what’s normal for this house over the last two years, but it’s the harder half with almost all of the roof lights and ladder work done. The lights that still need to go up go into those bushes and ground cover and that’s pretty straightforward and quick. (I hope!)

Plus there’s a 13 day-old moon rising, one day away from full!

Still need the lights over the garage door, but let’s hope it’s quick tomorrow and Sunday. Remember, if you aren’t blowing circuit breakers, you can still put up more lights!


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Reflections Of Reflections

The lights might be down outside, but the tree’s still up – too busy this month to get to it yet. Late at night, when all of the other lights are off, you can see it reflected off of the china cabinet doors and the sliding glass doors and both and back and forth.

Maybe I’ll wait just a bit longer before taking it down.

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The Night Returns

It’s always a melancholy night when the Christmas lights come down. The tens of thousands of festive lights, marking and celebrating the weeks surrounding the Winter Solstice, driving back the long nights – they’re all gone and the the night returns.

Tonight the moon, a couple of days past full, is helping to keep the darkest of the dark at bay. It’s always a pleasure to see it rising beyond the trees and the lights of Los Angeles.

Up near the zenith, winter’s guardian, bold Orion is bright – but not as bright as normal. (One of these days we need to talk about Betelgeuse. What’s up with that?)

The cycle will go around again. Spring is coming, the days will get long, we’ll roast through the summer, then the days will start to shorten again and next Thanksgiving we’ll decorate and light up the night.

Until then…

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Never Too Many Christmas Lights

So, here’s the “new” lights I put up on the far side of the driveway this year, as seen from the back yard, looking toward the street, as I was doing the traditional Christmas Day BBQ last night:

A) Because they’re pretty and I like them, and;

B) Because all of a sudden instead of relaxing at this time of year, between the holiday and shopping and wrapping and trying to get the (late, late) cards done and in the mail and work and the budget and prepping for year-end close and the hangar and prepping for year-end close and annual audits for both coming at me like a freight train, I’m slightly busier than God, so posting a single picture and a (relatively) short rant, it’s all I have time for if I want to at least get five hours of sleep tonight… (wait, has this thing been on the whole time?)

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