Everyone who knows me knows that December 22 is my least favorite day of the year… it’s the day with the shortest amount of daylight. The sun sort of bottoms out for three days around December 22 before beginning its climb higher into the sky (by one degree) on or about December 25.
I never really thought about it, but those two things have something in common.
One hundred and thirty years ago this year, on December 22, Edward Hibberd Johnson changed everything and ushered in an era of tacky lights and over the top Christmas displays. Johnson, who was vice president of Edison Electric Light Company, created the first display of electric lights in his home for Christmas. Thomas Edison created the first practical electric lights three years before so as a publicity stunt Johnson added 80 electric lights to his Christmas tree. Not content to simply put lights on a tree and flip the switch, though, Johnson mounted a rather pathetic looking tree on an electric turntable that spun the tree around. As it turned, the lights blinked on and off, alternating colors from white to blue to red.
And now I think I need to go to the store. There’s this one spot on the side of the house that isn’t lit up…Dad would be so proud.