Credit: Isabela Fitzgerald, Staff Artist

by Daniel Wang, Staff Writer, December 2020

From adorning verandahs with strips of fluorescent bulbs to wrapping shrubs in ropes of LEDs, arranging festive light displays is an integral part of the holiday season. The decorating tradition has gained particular traction this year as many families plan to substitute in-person gatherings with festive at-home activities. “Drive-through” Christmas light shows are experiencing a recent surge across the country. In the spirit of finding new ways to connect with the school community during this unprecedented holiday season, Nobles students shared their reasons for decorating with lights. 

Xavier Welch (Class I) highlighted that seeing his neighbors’ decorations always induces holiday cheer. “I really appreciate driving along Great Plain Ave. and seeing so many houses that are just covered in Christmas lights,” Welch said. Welch hopes that his own decorations will spread similar feelings of comfort and glee. He added, “I think that everybody who decorates, at least I would hope, is doing so because holiday lights are one of those little things that makes everyone happy. I don’t know how much the lights contribute to global warming, but the decorations definitely do a lot of good by adding a little bit of comfort and positivity to everyone’s day.” 

Hadley Winslow (Class I) similarly noted that catching sight of festive decorations invokes immediate happiness for her. “Everytime I drive home from school and I see the lights, the decorations instantly put a smile on my face,” Winslow said. Sam Millay (Class II) agreed, “What I enjoy most about the holiday season is the general happy vibe. The lights definitely play into this, as they literally light up my neighborhood.”

Another frequently mentioned motive for assembling festive light displays was a sense of communal solidarity. Winslow mentioned that  her neighbors typically prepare holiday themed decorations every year. “We live on a little circle with six houses on it; most of the residents decorate for Christmas,” Winslow said. Millay also observed, “My street definitely has a fair amount of houses which hang up lights, so preparing decorations is a neighborhood-wide thing.” 

Nobles students’ homes adorned with holiday lights. Photo credit: Various

Although few families in Welch’s apartment/town home complex prepare holiday light displays, he explained that decorations have helped produce feelings of camaraderie and sociability. Xavier described a recent incident involving Om Paithankar (Class III), who also resides in Welch’s compound: “I got a text from Om, who lives in my apartment complex, the other day saying that ‘you guys are the best neighbors!’ because nobody else in my apartment was doing lights outside. He was super happy because he saw our decorations and felt that he had to reach out,” Welch said. Paithankar himself stated that he felt that reaching out Xavier would be a nice token of appreciation. He said, “I feel that the lights just helped hype everyone up for the holiday season and getting everyone into the festive spirit.”

Finally, some students identified the unprecedented nature of this year as one reason for decorating. “I had been saying to my mom for a while that, since we were not going to travel anywhere for Christmas or have family come to town, we should do a bigger Christmas in terms of decorations than we had ever done before,” Winslow said. She added, “Decorating and putting up holiday lights provides a sense of joy and fulfillment which helps block away some of the negativity that’s been in the world… this year.” 

Jacob Casper (Class II) also believes that decorating this year is especially important. “I think one of the most important reasons that people decorate is to unite everyone through the collective enjoyment of the holiday spirit,” Casper said. He elaborated, “The pandemic has made it difficult for people to connect with each other. This has made it even more important for people to express their gratitude and appreciation of others, something which holiday lights do very well.”

Regardless of their reasons for producing outdoor light fixtures, students agreed that festive decorations were an integral part of their holiday experience. Whether you feel uplifted when you see your neighbor’s  brightly lit pine trees or appreciate your uncle’s fluorescent reindeer display, there is no denying that holiday lights are an essential feature of the winter season. While you enjoy a (hopefully) relaxing and refreshing break from school, I recommend taking some time to enjoy whatever festive lights are in your neighborhood. I promise you you won’t regret it.