My Thoughts, Exactly » Jim Chase

Getting the LED Out At Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like … uh, Vegas? Am I the only one who cringes at the glaring, glowing sight of all the new LED-type Christmas lights on houses throughout the neighborhood? They may be more energy efficient (or to put it in the mantra of the moment, “green”), but they certainly aren’t as cozy and Christmas-like as the old school incandescent ‘C-9’ lamps.

For my tastes, LED (which stands for “light emitting diode” in case you care and please don’t ask me where diodes come from) Christmas lights are as warm and cheery as the rotating blue beacon on top of a police cruiser. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that if you look at LED lights long enough they’ll blow out every rod and cone in your eyeballs.

Now I’ve heard the arguments promoting LED lights as being longer lasting, energy-saving alternatives to the old, glass-blown, incandescent bulbs. I’ve read that the glary LEDs use only 15% of the energy of a standard bulb and put out more light, there’s no filament or glass to break, they don’t get dangerously hot and blah-de-blah, blah, blah. Or rather, bah humbug. You might as well remake A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge played by Justin Bieber instead of George C. Scott. Puh-lease.

It’s Christmas time, people. A sacred time of excess and extravagance. I want to see my electric meter spin like a Frisbee on crack when I flip the switch on my outside lights. I want Edison shareholders to send me a handwritten, tear-stained note of thanks at the end of their fiscal year.

Sorry, but I insist that my Christmas lights be a warm and cheery red, blue, orange, white, green – not environmentally sanctioned, Sierra Club-approved “green.” I want mine made from glass so they shatter when I drop them on the ground or step on them on the lawn as I’m trying to figure out how a string that was carefully and neatly stored away in January mysteriously became a tangled Gordian knot of green wire and broken glass while sitting undisturbed in a storage container in my attic for 11 months.

My wife and I love to walk various neighborhoods in the early evening and enjoy seeing how individual homes are decorated for the various holidays. One La Cañada neighborhood that we frequent is a microcosm of trends – both old and new – in lighting technology with many homes decked in tasteful rows of cozy and inviting traditional C9 lights and their next-door or across-the-street neighbors’ homes bedazzled with newer LED laser-like light shows. (I’ve considered donning my Maui Jim’s as I pass by these homes.)

For me, it’s the difference between listening to “White Christmas” or “Let It Snow” sung by Nat King Cole, Lou Rawls or Burl Ives as opposed to hearing these venerable classics “interpreted” by Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne or Ceelo Green. It’s just not the same experience, if you get my (snow) drift.

Maybe I have this thing about old school lights because they nearly killed me in my youth while stringing lights at my parent’s house. Turning on the lights to see if any needed replacing, I unscrewed one that wasn’t working, saw that the metal contact at the bottom of the socket was not touching the base of the bulb, and – forgetting that the power was still on – stuck my index finger into the socket to bend the contact up. Dear holy mother of Donder and Blizten. I had no idea I could fly. When I came to I was laying on the lawn about 15 feet from the ladder with the smell of singed hair in air. I’ve felt this odd, tingly connection with Christmas lights ever since.

Anyway, now that I’ve thoroughly positioned myself as a lighting snob, I’ll shut up for this week. Besides, I have to find a ladder and go replace some burned out bulbs on my roof.

I’ll see you ’round town.

© 2011 WordChaser, Inc. Jim Chase is an award- winning advertising copywriter and native of Southern California. Readers are invited to “friend” his My Thoughts Exactly page on Facebook. Also visit Jim’s new blog with past columns and additional thoughts at: http://