’Tis the season to be jolly, whether you like it or not, and East Hampton’s overheated (and occasionally silly) civic discourse on holiday lights has arrived right on time.
We’re big proponents of holly-jolly around here, as anyone who remembers the Great Christmas Tree Brawl of 1989 (or was it 1992?) will recall. Approximately 30 years ago, The Star ran a poll, asking the public to vote by paper-ballot box on which sorts of string lights they preferred on the fir trees that line Main Street and Newtown Lane: “elegant white,” “serene blue,” or “jolly multicolor.” When “jolly multicolor” was announced the winner by a landslide, the letters-to-the-editor writers gathered their pitchforks, accusing the paper of tipping the scales with our choice of adjectives — “jolly” being, ipso facto, a more appealing word and therefore akin to electoral manipulation. We’d also declined to impose a lower age limit on voters, allowing a class of grade-school students from Most Holy Trinity to cast their ballots, further outraging the serene-blue and elegant-white campaigners.
We’re still chuckling over that imbroglio.
As soon as the oven cooled on Thanksgiving, the holiday lights went up around town, and we’re into it. The village looks pretty. If we had our druthers, all these years later, we’d still prefer tutti-frutti colors — like those seen, for example, on Bridgehampton’s Main Street — because they’re more cheerful and because there’s really no such thing as tasteful string lights, so you might as well go full Clark Griswold. But, even in “elegant white,” the lampposts and windmills aglow do warm the cockles on a cold winter’s night.
It wouldn’t be December, of course, without some Scrooge-y grumbling about other people’s exterior decorations. Star readers have also been making jokes about having to wear sunglasses at night as they drive past the Huntting Inn, so blinding is the display. Has the spirit of the season possibly been ramped up several watts too far, in that location? Well, yes, Virginia, that’s possibly so. But let’s all try to be a bit more like Tiny Tim and a bit less like Ebenezer. We applaud the inn’s effort, and maybe next year the wattage will be adjusted. To all, a good night.