Shad Talks Christmas Lights

As a cat, I’m generally attracted to pretty, sparkly and flashy things.  So it’s no surprise that the Christmas decorations adorning some of the houses in the area have caught my eye.  Just look at the colourful canopy and happy hues that light up the night sky.  Despite my excitement at the shimmering and twinkling kaleidoscope of colours, I can’t help but express concern about the increased use of energy as a result of excessive Christmas lighting.  It also leads to extensive recycling issues, with as much as 20 million pounds of discarded holiday lights being shipped to China every year for recycling.

But before you all start shouting ‘humbug’, I confess that they are bright and festive and mark a celebration of family and friendship, something to be treasured.  They are also being used to raise money for good causes.  Locally, one family is fund-raising for multiple sclerosis by asking for donations from onlookers.  But before you pay, please be sure that you trust those who are collecting, as I would hate for your hard-earned pennies to be misused by a dishonest person.

The pagans used evergreens and lights in their winter rituals and the custom must have been adopted by Christians who started to bring trees into their homes.  It is said that the Germans combined the elements of a tree and lights and the tradition of illuminating the tree with candles begun (in the 17th to 18th century).  Candles for the tree were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached by pins. If you thought stringing popcorn for hours could get tedious, imagine fumbling around trying to attach a multitude of lit candles to a tree using melted wax or pins. Revelers eager to keep their holiday spirits bright needed to keep a bucket of water or sand on standby!!  Despite the dangers of mixing open flame with drying-out trees, candles would remain a Christmas staple into the early 20th century, when candle-holders, small lanterns and glass balls were used to hold the candles.

Eventually electric Christmas lights were introduced and strings of electric lights found their way into use in places other than the Christmas tree.   By the mid-20th century, strings of fairy lights were being displayed on mantles and around doorways, across porches and roof lines and along streets.  Now they range from simple light strands to animated tableaux involving illuminated animatronics and statues, no doubt often fuelled by friendly neighbourhood rivalry as to who has the best display.  National grid on standby!!

If you decide to decorate your house this year, please be careful climbing up ladders and remember that repeatedly using the same extension cord is a safety hazard.  Don’t forget to think about your decorations from your pet’s point of view in order to us safe.  Try crawling around on the floor thinking about what you might like to chew if you were an animal!  If you start meowing or woofing, you might want to think about getting a check-up from the neck up!

Happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year to all Shad the Cat’s readers.  Thank you for your loyalty and continued support.

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