According to the Journal of Environmental Psychology, putting up the Christmas lights early makes you happy. Science says so. You want to be happy, don’t you?
A study found that putting up the lights “is a neurological pipeline to warm and fuzzy feelings around your childhood experiences.” Odd: That’s just how my wife phrases it every year: “Isn’t it time you routed out the neurological pipeline?”
I get out the lights, which were neatly put away in January but somehow transformed into a spiky bolus shoved into a trash bag. I untangle the mess and test them to see if they work.
They do not work. They never work after sitting for 11 months.
My neurological pipeline closes up like the arteries of someone who starts every morning with a steak-and-bacon smoothie. I realize that the warm and fuzzy feelings around my childhood experiences consist of watching my dad put up the lights. One strand on the gutters, bulbs the size of squirrel skulls. I consider calling him up and asking him if he’d come over and drape 300 lights on a tree with a hooked pole, an activity that looks like you’re trying to harpoon a raccoon.
“It would help flood my neurological pipeline,” I’d say. “Think of a straw in my head that’s accessing the rich hot chocolate of memories. What? No, I haven’t been drinking.”
I believe the study, though. Putting up the lights makes you happy because you’re done, and you don’t have to sublimate your interior growls at the neighbor who flips a switch on Thanksgiving and it’s Times Square with motion-activated snowmen who ho-ho-ho and wave a broom.
The lights help you get into the Christmas spirit, of course, and you are flooded with fuzzy feelings ... No, that’s the Nyquil.
Well, it might make me happy, but I’m still waiting until after Thanksgiving. This is our first Christmas as empty-nesters, with Daughter away in Brazil. To be honest, the neurological pipeline is connected to memories of her warm and fuzzy Christmases, and it’s unlikely I’ll do a jig on the stoop because I draped some Chinese electrical equipment over a bush and remembered getting a “Lost in Space” toy in 1967.
If we do put them up today, I’ll be happy to tick it off my to-do list, but then the neighbors will groan because we’ve set a new standard. A few might show up to complain. And I’d grab a placard and join them. Despite the store displays and the mall music, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Yet.
Note: Halloween lights are orange. If you leave them up, you can tell the neighbors that they’re Thanksgiving lights. Me, I get all warm and fuzzy thinking about childhood yams. Don’t you?