When I was growing up my parents were not big into holiday decorating, and whatever we did have had to be “tasteful.” I’m still not completely sure of the exact boundaries of tasteful, but I think it roughly translates to “uniform, minimal, and unobtrusive.” I pretty much accepted this as gospel. After all, what will the neighbors think?
Then we bought our current house in Houston, and it was the first one we’ve lived in that wasn’t behind a gate or a brick wall or otherwise structurally weird in a way that precluded decorating. My husband couldn’t wait to decorate, and neither could my eldest daughter, who was three. At first I insisted – in the name of being tasteful – on all-white lights, and not too many of them. Sure, some of our neighbors had giant inflatable Snoopy Santas and huge cardboard reindeer and all manner of over-the-top decorations (this is Texas), but we had a standard to uphold.
My husband hung the lights…and they were kind of droopy. But he’d worked so hard and was so pleased with himself, so I said nothing (I didn’t have to – the neighbor kid next door pointed out his less-than-perfect technique). Then we turned them on, and guess what? Not all white lights are the same white, especially if you accumulate them randomly in various stores!
Our decorations were relatively uniform, somewhat symmetrical, definitely unobtrusive, arguably tasteful…and super boring.
That’s when I realized that the notion of “tasteful” is really about other people, and who has time for their approval? Finding and inhabiting your own joy is so much more important, and that’s part of what inspired the story for Shine a Light. Set around Hanukkah, Jonah and Ellie are in conflict as they each try to live up to the heavy expectations they’ve loaded on to what should be a joyful, lighthearted holiday. It’s not easy, but over time they help each other loosen their grips and give themselves over to pure delight.
As for us, we went back to the store and bought rainbow lights – lots and lots of rainbow lights. So as the winter nights get longer, the front of our house will glow in all the colors of the rainbow, plus various shades of white, draped imperfectly but with love and joy. And you know what? It makes me happy every time I see it.
What’s your take on decorating for the holidays?
About the Author
Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary
romance with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City, London and Johannesburg, Rebecca currently resides in Houston.