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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Light Rewards


Light Rewards

Our little community of around 170 townhome units has a Christmas Light decoration contest every year, or at least for the past two years.

Mrs. C who does not know to take two steps back when volunteers are asked for, has been one of the judges both years. 

Judging is difficult, most people do not go too overboard in decorating, and it is of course very subjective.  Some units have very little front to decorate, others much more.  Do you reward those with more property to decorate?  Some people use those projector things to cover their home with twinkling lights.  They take about two seconds to set up, do you take away for lack of effort? 

It is not always easy to judge fairly.

In the end, who really gives a dang?  The winners get a five dollar gift card to Walmart and a tiny bit of recognition.  Not particularly important.

The lady that runs the contest, a very nice lady who puts in quite a bit of effort in the process, is a big believer in fairness.

Mrs. C was just informed that this years second place winner would not get recognized because that home won first place last year.  The top judge believes in giving recognition to others.  So instead of coming in second, that home is fourth and gets no Walmart gift card.  The number four home moves up to third.  No one will actually know this except the judges and, like I said, the process is very (that’s super in young people talk) subjective, so what is the difference?

Well there is no difference except, to me, this is a microcosm of our world of fairness and inclusiveness today. 

The best player on a kids soccer team only gets one MVP of the game every year.  Spread the accolades around…it’s a self-esteem thing don’t you know.

Bad scores on a test? Scale them up so everyone passes.  A bad grade will keep you out of college and ruin your life forever.  It is better to pass than learn math.

Finish last in a race? Your participation trophy is made out of the same plastic and the same size as the winners.  Everyone is happy…right?

Well the kids know who scored all the goals game in and game out, they know the real MVP.  They do learn that being the best is not that important. 

The kids know their math sucks, they assume math is meaningless.

Everyone knows who finished first, they also learn that striving to be the best has no extra reward, in fact those who are born with special skills or ability should probably slow down a bit to let everyone have a chance.

It is only a stupid Christmas Light contest.  Just a few people give a fig about the results.  I wonder though, if everyone knew that part of winning was to have not won before, would the decorating effort diminish as the years go on.  Would Christmas in the neighborhood eventually be celebrated with changing porch lights from white to red or green?

Probably not, and who cares anyway? Just cranky old men who fear the only way for everything to be fair is if everyone gets nothing…except maybe those that get to decide what is fair.

May your days be happy and bright, (but no happier or brighter than your neighbors), and may all you Christmas’s be equally white.  


  1. Got to agree with you Joeh. Really in the effort to be fair, they are totally unfair. Never did believe in participation trophies either. Not to put Mrs. C out of a job, how about a community vote?

  2. Your conclusive wishes had me laughing! Thanks!

  3. That's a very unfair system, but possibly better than the same house winning year after year ad the one with little or no money to spend on lights never getting a chance. I do think demerit points should be given for those who have so many non-stop blinking lights they could induce an epileptic seizure in the onlooker.

  4. Life's never going to be totally fair and inclusive.

  5. Judging in such situations is tricky. I judged one-act plays a couple years at our County Fair. The same group had been winning every year with a similar type hokey country play. I casually mentioned it might be fun to see what they could do with a different type story. The next year they did just that and, unfortunately, not very well so I judged another group first place. I was totally surprised when they blamed me because they didn't win first place. They seem to have interpreted what I said as an instruction to do something different, so they had and therefore believed they should have had first place instead of doing what they did best. Never mind their play wasn't very good and I certainly wasn't giving instructions to any of the groups, including them. I had no idea they'd not exercise their own judgement about the limitations of their own acting abilities, much less think they had to please me. Actually, it was good another group got to win as others were getting discouraged at not winning. I moved away so don't know what happened successive years.

  6. I made a special effort this year with the decorations. I hired helicopters to fly overhead beaming down various coloured lights on our home and blaring Christmas songs like "White Christmas" and dropping artificial snow.

    Are the neighbours happy? They complained to the police and I was told to stop or face Court proceedings.

    Christmas? Bah ... humbug! I had to send away one hundred carol singers dressed like angels, half a dozen reindeer and a fat man dressed in red!

    God bless, JoeH. Best wishes to you and your family ... and your readers too.

  7. Everything does not need to be a contest. And when someone excels when it is a contest, they should get rewarded. But not everyone. Christmas lights especially are not a contest. They should be a time for folks to just enjoy. That's my soapbox rant.

  8. I cannot be impartial, having borne the wrath of family members for winning "all the time" at my sister's Christmas Eve party contests! As if I should dumb down my answers so those LOSERS could win! They'll get my $10 fleece blanket prize when they can pry it from my toasty-warm losing hands!