Let there be lights!

Dark days, indeed.

Angry Bedminster, N.J., residents staved off a town ordinance last month that would restrict holiday lighting. But now some folks in the same county are girding for another lights fight.

Residents of the Stratton Meadows Condominiums can't keep their holiday spirit contained to the designated decorating areas: front doors, balconies, decks, and inside windows.

The condo association is ordering them to stop illuminating trees, bushes, and garage doors in "common areas." The ban is no surprise; it's in the condo codes.

There's a similar flare-up at a 500-unit town-house complex in Parker, Colo. Owners were told to pull the plug or face a $25 fine.

Regulating the charge of the light brigades is a tricky task. Those who attempt to bring order are fighting centuries of tradition and instinct.

We Northern Hemisphiles have an ingrained desire to ward off the night as the days grow shorter. Call it Winter Solstice Denial. Many faiths can trace the use of festive lights to a pagan thirst for luminosity.

But lately some people have clearly overdone that draught. Blame it on El Nio. Normally, twinkle hangers are limited by their endurance to the cold. Not this year. Warm weather in the Northeast has permitted a proliferation of suburban light shows. Have you noticed? Electric icicles drip from everywhere.

As for the condo luminaries? Move to Moscow. The mayor there can't get enough bright lights. Embracing the age of commercial enlightenment, he's ordering store owners to go forth and decorate.

* We're home. Tell us how we're doing. Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at home@csps.com

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