I used to hate the LED Christmas lights. Then I discovered that I liked them. The clean, crisp light made ordinary lights look like they had the hue of smoker's teeth. I bought some and put them up.

My wife used to hate the LED lights. Then I discovered that she still hates them.

I took down the LED lights.

To be fair, she gave them a chance to see if she liked them. Previously, the time it took for her to express her distaste was a Plank Epoch, the very first moment of time created by the Big Bang, or 10 to the minus-43rd power seconds. But she gave it a Lepton Epoch, 1 to 10 seconds, a point in the Big Bang when "most (but not all) hadrons and antihadrons annihilate each other."

After checking around the house for hadrons and antihadrons, I figured it was safe to broach the issue. So, what's the verdict?

She reminded me that she wanted red and white lights, and I said, "Well, isn't that what I usually get?" "No," she said, "you get red, and you get white. I want red and white together."

"If they're all on the house and trees, aren't they together?"

"No, alternating."

"Hah! You think such a thing exists? Let me tell you, I've been out there in the world buying lights for years, and it's white, red and multicolor, with a few 100-bulb strings of green tossed in like chives on a mashed potato. Oh, I'd love to find red-and-white bulbs on the same strand, but I'd also love to see herds of flying horses passing majestically overhead to the strains of Beethoven's Sixth, except you'd have to ask yourself: Pegasuses? Pegasi?"

"They have to make them."

"Then, of course, there's the poop problem. First time a Pegasus pie slaps the sidewalk, it's not so majestic."

"I've seen other people have them."

"What? Oh, the lights? Well, they're probably available by special order for the cake-eaters who hire private firms to put up their lights, the sort of people who have their cards done by Nov. 15, everyone standing around all perfect on a mountain with the words 'Happy Joy Life Live Love Believe' on the card. The ones whose return address is embossed on the flap."

"Have you looked in the store?"

"Embossed in gold. No, silver. What? Well, sure, I can look."

So I called up some big-box websites, and there they were. Red-and-white, alternating. I'd never seen them before.

"You," I said, "willed these into existence out of nothingness. Like the Big Bang, except with Pegasi."


When it was all done I had strung 900 lights. Consider that number: 900. It made me think of the lights my father put on the eaves of our house in North Dakota. I believe the total number was 20. Granted, they were the old, fat bulbs like a sumo wrestler's toe, but they did the job: Festivity successfully stated.

By the time I'm done, I'll have 1,800 lights up, but they're not turned on. The lights go on after the last plate from Thanksgiving dinner has been cleaned. That's when it feels right.

They're airport landing lights for Christmas. Or Santa, his sleigh pulled by Pegasuses, their noses alternating red and white.

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks