Oh Christmas house, oh Christmas house,
How lovely are your lights.
In red and green and blue and orange,
Twinkling through the nights.
* * * *
It's a lovely holiday image, isn't it? Or does this revised carol sound more like your perfect holiday nightmare?
Yank down that multicolored mess of electrification, you cry. String up clear lights instead, strand after strand of pure whiteness shining along the eaves.
Colored lights or clear lights? That is the holiday question. We all have our preferences, to be sure, and oftentimes, never the strands shall meet.
Whether you illuminate Old Tannenbaum -- or ye olde homestead -- with snowy white lights or the colored bulbs of yesteryear may be a matter of savvy design, family tradition or emotional attachments. We caught up with some Top of Utah residents in the midst of holiday preparations to find out their choices in this annual battle of "Light Wars."
-- Becky Cairns, Standard-Examiner staff
Colored lights are ...
• Classic. Every year, her children and family gather to trim a fresh-cut tree with colored lights and old-fashioned icicles, says Pat, a Layton resident who did not want to give her last name.
“It’s family; it’s more warm and it’s more expected. The kids like it — it brings back memories,” she says.
Colored lights win out for McKenzie Beard, too, who says the ones on her tree have been passed down in her family.
“I grew up in Montana; you have all-white snow all around you,” says Beard, of Brigham City. “The multicolored makes everything look pretty.”
• Fantasy-like. “For myself, I prefer the colored lights just because it reminds me of the gingerbread house and the Hansel and Gretel story,” says designer Dyrk Farr of Ogden. The large old-fashioned bulbs “almost look like candy sprinkles that you put on cookies.”
Farr strings all colors of lights outdoors at his house. On the inside, he festoons some of his dozen or so Christmas trees with multicolored lights and others with clear, depending on the “kind of feeling I want to emote.”
• Eye-catching. Although Staci Lane is a fan of clear lights on her tree, colored lights are her preference for outdoors.
The chairwoman of Ogden’s Christmas Tree Jubilee says colored lights “look like they’re twinkling when you drive past. ... I just think they attract (the eye) more than the white lights,” Lane says.
Jared Haslam, the 18-year-old son of clear-light fan Merilyn Haslam, says putting different colored lights on his family’s trees in unincorporated Weber County makes each one stand out.
“If you do white lights, they all blend together and you can’t differentiate tree to tree,” says Jared, who has hung so many lights in the yard that his neighbors have jokingly told him he’s saved them a trip to see the lights on Salt Lake City’s Temple Square.
• Festive. The upstairs tree at Jill Braithwaite’s home is decked in white lights for an elegant and classic look but the downstairs tree, designed with her children and her parents’ grandchildren in mind, glows with colors.
It’s more youthful, and “more playful and festive,” says Braithwaite, of North Ogden.
• Christmasy. Even though light installer Andrew Wood, who lives near South Ogden, hangs primarily clear lights on clients’ homes, he prefers colored lights at his own house.
“It just seems more Christmasy —it kind of looks like the house is made out of candy or something,” Wood says.
Folks who have children or grandchildren often opt for multicolored lights, he says, because kids seem to enjoy color.
Although some claim clear lights are cleaner and simpler, Wood quips that those are just good adjectives to use “instead of boring.”
• More individualistic. When clear lights first hit the scene, they stood out because they were different, but now they’re so common they are becoming passe, Farr says.
In new neighborhoods, all the houses “have the same lights and the same look and there’s no individuality about it,” he explains.
Farr says he loves the romance of the holiday season, and colored lights have a more subtle and romantic look.
But in the end, the choice of clear vs. colors boils down to personal preference, Farr says.
What’s most important, he says, is “what makes your heart happy and makes you feel like Christmas.”
Clear lights are ...