What's Taste, Anyway? - by Cynthia Reese

I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but Walmart had Christmas decorations out before Halloween, so I think I'm okay here.

I don't know how it was in your family, but my mom had a rabid hate of multi-colored lights.

The only lights that were welcome in her house or on her house or recognized by her as good taste were small twinkling white lights.

As a kid, I did not have taste. At least, as defined by my mom. I would see the brightly colored rainbow of lights strung up on our neighbor's houses as we drove by, and I would gasp, "Oh, wow!"

My mom would make this strange growling noise under her breath, grip the steering wheel a little tighter and step on the accelerator. 

It took awhile for me to figure out why my comment elicited that growl. Finally, one day, I asked my mom why she didn't like multi-colored lights. 

"It looks like a jook joint," she explained. 

A bit of translation is needed. "Jook joint" in my mother's vocabulary equalled "run-down beer joint dive where knives are likely to be used." I think it actually was "juke joint" but I never asked her to spell it. 

Since we were a teetotalling Baptist family, I had no desire for our house to be mistaken for one of THOSE kind of establishments. Soon, I, too, was emulating my mother's growl as we drove by multi-colored lights. 

And then I married my husband. Who grew up on rainbow colored lights - big, old-fashioned bulbs in every gaudy hue possible. 

Why, no. He does not have permission to decorate my Christmas tree. But after over two decades of quibbling over this debate, I did cry uncle and let him string multi-colored lights on our front fence. 

And yes, when I drive by it, I growl, "Jook joint," under my breath. 


  1. Cynthia, We are so patterned after our family traditions it's a wonder anyone finds compromise when they get married. What I think looks tacky are the big, blow-up plastic snowmen, Santas, or other holiday decorations. My husband was forever dragging one of those home. He even put one on our roof once and I had a huge fit. I was delighted when the wind blew it away. I think he forever thought I'd climbed up there and cut the ropes. I'm sure your home looks festive.

  2. Cynthia, this post had me laughing. Mr. Curtis is ultra conservative - white lights on the tree, white lights outside. He did fall prey to the light war one year and bought a reindeer and snowmen for the yard - also with white lights. Traditions are funny. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cynthia - We had those giant colored lights on the tree and around the mirror in the living room. We also had those bubble lights that sort of effervesce (sp?) the liquid inside when the power is on. I love white lights too and they look so classy in some places, but my tree has to be over the top gaudy - and real!

  4. LOL. My husband is of the white-light-forever opinion, too, but I like me some color here and there. This could explain why we're a three Christmas tree couple--it's literally his, mine, and ours.

  5. Funny post Cynthia! As long as it looks like Christmas, it's okay by me:) we tend to stick with the white lights, but we do hide a very gaudy blow up Santa in a train in the backyard just for our son's enjoyment:)

  6. LOL! I feel the same way about those multi-colored lights, Cynthia :) When I complained about the strings my husband bought, he then purchased blue lighted garland to wrap around our porch and kept the multi-colored for the trees. When I complained about that, he got a very traditional red and green lighted wreath to hang above our garage and when I complained about all of this lack of matching, he bought white snowflake lights to hang from the eaves to "Tie it all together" grrrrrr. Men! I now know not to open my mouth again and simply smile as we pull into our crazily lit house!

  7. Personally, I like it when a house is decorated entirely with blue lights. Multi-colored lights always seem gaudy. But what I really dislike – blinking lights, especially when one section blinks and another doesn’t.


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