There’s not a lot going on right now, but that doesn’t mean my family can’t still enjoy some of our favorite seasonal pastimes like trimming the Christmas tree, counting down to Santa’s arrival, and riding bikes around the neighborhood and loudly critiquing everyone’s decorating choices.
Amidst the December doldrums, the announcement of a holiday decoration contest by our neighborhood HOA certainly sent a frisson of excitement through our household.
My children are enamored with decorations anyway, but the prospect of a cash prize just for filling our yard with more inflatable monstrosities dialed up their excitement level to an 11.
We ended up adding three small blow-ups, some lighted balls that are quite elegant, and one extra string of lights, so it’s a pretty safe bet that the gift card is in the bag.
However, because it’s best not to leave anything to chance, the children and I have started going on bike rides around the neighborhood to scope out the competition. When we pass by a house with mediocre decorations, one child will say, “I think we have this one beat!”
If you’re looking for some ideas of what to do with your kids over the holidays, check out: 16 Traditions For Dads to Start With Their Kids This Holiday Season
And then, since we’re not all that close together and it can be difficult to hear while riding bikes, another child will call back, “What?”
In turn, the first child will shout, “I THINK WE HAVE THIS ONE BEAT!”
It’s truly magical.
You’re probably wondering what makes a contest-winning holiday light display and according to my 9-year-old, it’s very simple:
First, in his words: “You have to spend money to make money.”
Of course, he meant that we needed to invest in our display to increase our odds of winning the gift card. You might think he just said that to convince us to spend money on more inflatables and you would be right.
Second, again in his own words: “It’s not about the number of lights, it’s how much joy you put into (your display).”
In sum, whichever way you slice it, our holiday light display—which includes four inflatables, the aforementioned elegant balls, a classic Moravian star, and a few lights wrapped around the pole of the basketball goal and the columns on our porch—is the clear winner. It is so darn joyful.
But while our critiques of other peoples’ downright paltry decorations—I mean, literally no one else in the neighborhood has lights on their basketball goal—can be withering and our thirst for victory intense, ultimately, we must defer to my oldest son’s wisdom and heart.
As we completed one of our seasonal surveillance bike rides, my 9-year-old asked me an important question:
“Can you only vote for one house or more than one?”
“I don’t know,” I answered.
“Because if you can vote for every house, I would definitely do that. Everyone did try their best.”
I think that is pretty much the perfect message for every year and this year in particular.
Because it really doesn’t matter if we win or lose, all that matters is we give it our best effort.
And that our arch nemeses around the corner DO NOT win because they are vile human beings.
The spirit of the season must endure.