They go on automatically at sunset, which, I am happy to note, is coming later and later, and they turn off automatically about five hours later. That means that this year, unlike the last three years, I found the magic "gazinta" (as in: "This gazinta that") and it works. I don't have to run down to the cellar and throw the circuit breaker every night to shut them off. Everyone else on the street has put Christmas away until next year. Uh uh. Not I. At first the neighbors thought I kept them up until "Little Christmas" on January 6. The truth is, I keep them up because they are cheerful. I hate the dark of winter. The cold doesn't bother me nearly as much, but the darkness makes me sad and uneasy. If the nights are going to be so disgustingly long, why NOT keep Christmas lights up to literally lighten the mood?
People have become accustomed to my being the last one on the block to put lights up (not wanting to upstage a certain first born's birthday on December 18) and the last to take them down. So up they stay until Lent, which arrives on February 13 this year. And then I'll give in, because by then the Red Sox will be in spring training (for all the good it does them), and the hope of Spring will be gaining strength with the elongation of each daylight hour, and I won't need an extra talisman to which to cling. I can stop embarrassing my kids until the first crocus pokes its little yellow head up in the front yard. Because that's another tradition of mine. I dance. No. Really.