Monday, December 7

I'm Disappointed in Me

Houston, we have a problem.

It's less than three weeks until Christmas and so far no one is going to mistake our house for La Casa de los Griswolds. While I would like to have more lights than an airport runway lining every angle, corner, and wall, I don't.

Not even close.

The first problem that came up was that HOLY SMOKES THIS HOUSE IS BIG. I mean, we knew we were upgrading in July when we moved from less than 1000 square feet of living space to over 3000 square feet, but I didn't really ponder how the hilly yard and exposed foundation would factor into Christmas lovelies. The roof? Is high. Very high. The really tall ladder we bought several years ago specifically for getting on top of roofs? Not really tall enough. Not even close, in fact.

Not having a ladder tall enough to get on the roof led to more than a few conversations between me and Santa. I told Santa all I wanted for Christmas was a 40-foot tall ladder. Santa glared at me. I repeated my every dream and desire. Santa pointed out that ridiculously tall ladders cost a lot of money.

Santa is no fun.

Perhaps the worst part of the Great Ladder Debate of 2009 is that Santa is right. Once we get a deck built, the ladder we have will be big enough. I could override Santa and go get myself a ladder so I could have pretty icicle lights this year, but that would mean I would have to wait even longer to have a deck. Stupid Santa and his valid points.

The other issue that is driving me nuts is that whoever ran the electrical wiring for this house clearly didn't understand the importance of dedicated plugs on house exteriors. It took a few days to figure it out, but it turns out that every exterior plug and light to this house is on the same circuit. Along with the water heater.

I'm pretty tolerant of cold, but not when it comes to showers. The very first time I had to take a cold shower because the lights and water heater running together had tripped the circuit, I knew we were in a lot of trouble. It would be simple, but it turns out that electrician-type people actually expect you to pay them money to rewire a bunch of plugs.

Electricians are no fun.

So, here I sit in a house with some Christmas lights, but not nearly enough. There are boxes and boxes of unused lights in the basement, but unless the Electrical Fairy pays us a free visit tonight, they won't be getting put up.

I'm sad.

To brighten my dark little Griswold heart, I need places in and around Pittsburgh to go look at lights. I asked twitter and it suggested:

Hartwood Acres
Steel City Christmas (Beryl Drive, Pittsburgh)
The houses off of Old Lebanon Church Road in West Mifflin (near the intersection of Routes 51 and 885)
Christmas Light-Up (Findlay Township)
Morningside (above the zoo)
Bob's Garage (Aspinwall)
Cloverleaf (Collier)
Santaland (Venetia)
Ingram Avenue (around corner from Sharp Edge)
House on 286 in Holiday Park

(The house on Seibert near McKnight doesn't have the lights on so far this year and probably won't have them. Lots of drama going on there.)

If you've got more or details about any of the above, dish it out.

Oh, and Mr. Husband, you're driving to all these places this weekend. That's what you get for depriving me of my rooftop icicle lights. :-D

Thanks to the following people for their mastery of Pittsburgh Christmas light extravaganzas: ciaobella, hellohahanarf, aPSUmama, ChickLitLisa, sheepthemoon, avisualtinkle, tehamy, GoBobbo, mattieflap, and everybody else who I'm forgetting because I forgot to star them all.


I'm doing this again this year. If you see some Christmas Crazy anywhere, take a pic and post it on or by 12/20 (Mr. Linky will go up on 12/20). If you don't have a blog, you can email the pics to me at burghbaby (at) and I'll happily post them. Thanks!


  1. I am the Clark W. Griswold in my house. I can't even imagine how hard it must be to go without full exterior illumination. I'll keep you in my heart.


  2. I will ask Jim how tall our ladder is, but I'm thinking it is 40 ft. It is a bitch to put up, though. It basically takes two or three guys. We gave up on the idea, after struggling with it for a while, and my husband realizing that he might just be a tiny bit afraid of heights.

  3. It took us three years to get a ladder like that. Three years and overfilled gutters. Sorry you're missing your Christmas finery this year. It'll be too late for this year, but maybe you'll get a ladder in your stocking. Who knows?

  4. I have a friend on Beryl Drive and i passed this house Sunday. Holy Crap. They have lights you can see from the end of the street. I'm pretty sure it was set to music and everything because there was a lot of random flashing, but it was cold and i wasn't opening the window. Well worth a drive. Just make sure you have a map or GPS because its REALLY hard to see the street signs!

  5. Betsy7:30 AM

    I have one outlet at the front of our house. I lit every bush in the front yard 2 weeks ago..... First night they were on - every one shorted out. Now you can see the reflections of the lights during the sunny days, but at night....not so much. :( My mantles could land a plane though.

  6. I've lived with no lights in my brand new house for 5 years now because of the no-deck-no-ladder conundrum. Oh, for a man-lift! Santa truly is no fun.

    Overlys is da bomb. Definitely worth the drive out this way.

  7. For that Hartwood Acres part of the list you should say, "Hey Alexis, do you want to go play at [Peanut's] house? And meet [Peanut's] dogs? And then go just down [Peanut's] street to Hartwood Acres to see the lights?"
    They're up until January.

  8. There's no Christmas Crazy happening at my house, but several in my neighborhood.

    Also, we are currently researching electricians, as we need a box upgrade. I have ZERO outside outlets, so I can't even have icicle lights. If you needs names, the hubby researches Angie's List extensively before letting anyone come over.

  9. @Karyn--Yeah, the house on Beryl runs an FM radio station and has the lights synced to music. Alexis and I went to visit it last year. You're not kidding when you say it's worth it. It's kind of amazing how what even I would consider excess ends up looking really amazing. They do a great job of managing to keep over-the-top in check.

  10. I heart Bob's Garage. I used to live not too far from there and the first time I walked in...Holy Crap that's a lot of lights in a very tiny hole-in-the-wall bar. But you have to go inside, and I might not take Alexis unless you go during the day.

  11. I'm so mad the McKnight lights aren't on. We were in the are on Sunday and I really wanted to see them!

  12. Hey, just to clarify, it's Siebert Road near McKnight -- my old stomping grounds... Now I live next door to a wonderful neighbor who is all about Christmas crazy (and Halloween crazy). I love it, even though we look like Scrooge in comparison.

  13. @Chris H--Thank you!

  14. We have five other houses on our cul-de-sac. For the last three years at Thanksgiving, I silently give thanks that these neighbors are so disinterested in Christmas lights. Because I know if they put any effort in at all, my wife would start keeping score. And she wouldn't settle for a field goal margin of victory.

  15. How about the block on Friendship Ave. next to West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield/Friendship? I will take a picture of it next time I ride past and send it to you. It's really, really neat. They have these star thingees in all different shapes and sizes and they are wired so they look like they are floating above the street. Every year they add a few. These star thingees look like they cost a fortune.

  16. The inside of my house looks crazy good, but I didn't do lights outside this year. I did decorations, but no lights. I have to wait until the bushes get a bit bigger and then I'll have somewhere to put them. I'm not climbing up on my roof either. ;)

  17. I was going to suggest renting a taller ladder or a scissor lift from Home Depot, but that wouldn't solve your outlet issue. :( Maybe a few really, really long extension cords to the neighbors?...

  18. We are getting closer to Christmas crazy. My wife was needing some more Christmas "spirit" in our house so we went on a decorations spending spree. It looks good, but not crazy yet.

  19. My husband is on a mission to one-up the neighbor when it comes to lights, but I remember those first few Chrismtases when (for multiple reasons) we just couldn't go all out. I have no doubt that you will make up for it in years to come, and that you are compensating appropriately inside.

  20. tehamy8:13 PM

    Don't forget, not only does Overly's have an awesome light display, they also have funnel cake!

  21. 1. I hope someone reading has said ladder and shows up this weekend just because.

    2. With an electrician in the passenger seat.

    3. Yay for whomever suggested Ingram Ave- those are my neighbors! Aren't they a hoot! We would be one of the surrounding houses with NO decorations, to let their crazy shine through.

  22. I am a total slacker in the Griswold arena:( I gotta get on the ball, or Miss Peach is gonna kick my a$$!

  23. Here is the info on SantaLand:

    1365 Venetia Rd-in EightyFour. It is South of Finleyville. Look for signs in Peters Township on Waterdamn and Thomas Rd. Lights on duck until 10pm..every day until New Years Eve. A Project Bundle-up box is located there should you wish to donate.

  24. Clinton, PA (on the line of Allegheny and Beaver counties) also has a light drive thru show thing. My parents took the boys. Apparently there is a tow truck with the name Nick on the tow truck arm thing. That's totally the technical name for it.

  25. Let me go on record here:

    you are pretty durn close to griswold status
    my girls r liking the new additions

    and i know a neighbor that has a BIG ARSE LADDER.
    I gots connections if only I could lure you over here to talk to u

    and then stuff you in my oven and eat you.

    wait.. who wrote that part?? lol * nervous laugh

    * next door TO US has that ladder
    :) He's a GIVER!