When it comes to holiday displays, this one at a house in Newton, Mass., is far from the flashiest out there. The house lacks animatronic characters or light sequences synchronized to “Gangnam Style.” And though it’s apparently been a bright spot in that city’s village of Newton Corner for decades of Christmases, it’s not like there are crowds lined up to see it. So a letter protesting the homey setup at the Hunter family’s house — and signed simply “your neighbors” — might seem all the more surprising, if not more mean-spirited.
As seen in the video above from Boston TV station WCVB, the objections from the anonymous letter writer or writers include complaints that the family’s decorations are a “flagrant display” of Christian beliefs “which are in direct contradiction to those of others,” and are a “terrible eye-sore” and “beyond tasteless” besides. The letter has left the Hunter family shocked, they say, since the seasonal display that was begun in the 1960s by former firefighter William Hunter — and is now done by his widow and three daughters — usually brings compliments from passers-by. The TV station acknowledges that the letter might just be a prank, but whatever the motivation behind it might be, the community has planned a show of support for the Hunters on Dec. 21 — in the form of Christmas caroling at the house.
From a past AOL Real Estate article on Christmas-light etiquette comes this summary of tips for both those who like to illuminate their homes for the holidays — and for their neighbors.
1. Don’t leave your lights on or up year-round. That’s not so much festive as lazy or inconsiderate. The recommended period to display them: from right after Thanksgiving to Jan. 3.
2. Keep bright Christmas lights away from your neighbors’ bedroom windows. And try setting a timer to turn off the lights at 10 p.m.
3. Lights with sound effects can be really annoying. Avoid them.
4. Show tolerance toward those who like to go all out with holiday decor. Unless the lights are unsafe or rob you of sleep, this is part of being a good neighbor.
5. Be diplomatic. If the lights are causing a problem, politely suggest a way to compromise.
6. Try not to pass judgment. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and these displays bring many people joy. In other words, lighten up!