Every year on or around the Thanksgiving holiday, families across the USA begin decorating their homes with Christmas decorations, both inside and out. My family is no different. The Thanksgiving turkey was not yet fully digested this year and Tina and my oldest son, Brett, were busily putting up the Christmas tree and other yuletide decorations. For many, this is a cherished family tradition. For others, it is a cutthroat competition where neighbors crazily battle it out, like in in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, to see who has the “best” decorations or light displays.
A good example of real-life, intense, Christmas lighting competition is that of the Richards family of Canberra, Australia. In 2001, the Richards set the Guinness World Record for the most holiday lights ever to appear on a human house—exactly 331,038 bulbs. This amazing record stood unparalleled for more than a decade. Then, in 2012, the Tim Gay family from LaGrangeville, New York surpassed the Richards clan. They decorated their house with 346,283 lights, with many of those lights synchronized to music, adding insult to injury.
The Richards family, however, refused to lose, upping the ante by decorating their house with more than 502,165 lights, which equals out to more than 29 miles of wire.
So, they win, right?
Well, not so fast. Not to be outdone, Tim Gay and his New York family got their revenge this year: They covered their house and grounds with a whopping display of 601,736 lights! It took approximately two months to build, and the display covers two full acres. It also involves more than lights: It also includes more than 200 songs, including both top-40 hits and traditional holiday songs.
As Tim Gay told Guinness, on his win: “My family and I are thrilled to bring the World Record back to the United States.” Furthermore, he added, “And we’re even more excited that we did it with nearly 100,000 more lights than the previous record.”
Perhaps the best strategy of dealing with neighborhood Christmas lighting competitions comes from Jami Kelly, of suburban Detroit. After seeing the extravagance of her neighbor’s display, she decided to grab a piece of plywood, a few sets of white lights, and weave them together to form a bright arrow pointing to her neighbor’s home. Above the arrow, she spelled out in charming white lights: “Ditto.”
While Jami’s approach is perhaps the best in addressing the competitive fervor associated with Christmas decorating and lighting, do you think that somewhere along the line that the Richards and Gay families, in their ridiculous pursuit, and even Jami Kelly, lost the original meaning of Christmas…Christ’s birth?
As you no doubt know, Christmas is not about the decorations and the lights, but about the life and the light of Jesus Christ. John 1:1-4 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
When it comes to Christmas, there really is no competition. Start to finish, hands down, Christmas is all about Jesus Christ, our virgin- born, matchless Savior and King!