The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas

from Live at Club Passim - New Year's Eve 2005

Every Christmas since 1950
the Johnsons have filled their yard
with nifty blinking reindeer,
Santas, Frosties, dwarves and stars

It started oh so simply
just lights within a tree
then the mailbox got all strung up
then the chimney, then the eves

and then the half-shell Mary
got draped in neon blue
then the hydrant, then the doghouse
then they freed a petting zoo

with electric reindeer,
llamas, horses, donkies, camels, mules
and a life-sized baby Jesus
sparkling like a desert jewel!

The lights so rattled the neighborhood
that the Smiths planned a revolt
led by a neon Santa Claus
that buzzed and sparked one thousand jolts

The Williams rolled out cotton snow
the Wheelers pinched a Grinch
Mr. Greenburg lit a menora
with eight foot flames and did not flinch

The Jackson's inflated a Frosty
inside their manger scene
the three wisemen all stood confused--
A desert snowman! Is this a dream?!

Things got so darned cluttered
that every house along the street
vanished beneath the twinkling junk
like pajamas beneath the sheets

With each new year, this competition
gave each family a Christmas mission
to see who could outdo themselves
with barking  penguins, sleighs and bells

Pretty soon from miles around
strangers came to Medford Town
to see the sights on Christmas block
the lights come on at six o'clock

The cars lined up in droves and droves
driving slowly at their leisure
they'd gawk and squawk and stare in shock
while their children had near seizures

Even up in outer space
the cosmonauts could see the place
the Christmas lights atop the trees
made them homesick for their families

But then one Christmas it all would change
there was no space left to arrange
in all the Johnson's neighborhood
except the tip where one tree stood

So Missy Johnson took a star
and on a ladder reaching far
put it on the the last tree's top
while all the neighbor's chins did drop

Then Johnny Johnson switched the switch
Santa's hands clicked six o'clock
and every light in Medford Town
blew out block, by block, by block

Then Boston, Providence, then state by state
America turned black as slate!
Then Canada, then Mexico
fell into the deep shadow

Then the Kremlin, then the Eiffel Tower
were soon to be out of power
London, Rio, Tokyo
were in the dark, but in the know

And in this blackout, all did stand
heartbroken down to every man
till Missy Johnson's eyes looked up
and her little voice did there erupt

"The stars! The stars! Above our heads!
They've never been so clear!" She said.
And everyone was quite amazed
to see the Milky Way ablaze!

Ten billion stars for every eye
stretched across the new born sky.
Satellites and meteors
each were counted by the score

Who would have thought the sky would know
how to put on a Christmas show?
Without the plastic, blinking stuff
the sky itself was just enough

See, all it took on Christmas night
to guide three kings was one star's light
The people stood on Christmas block
and held on to that simple thought

Christmas could be neon free
with no Santas, Frosties, reindeer, see?!
The people round all sighed relief
cause tangled lights can cause such grief

The next year out on Christmas block
they lit a candle on a rock
and gathered round it merrily
and sang a Christmas melody

And noone seemed to even care
that decorations weren't even there
though maybe they could steal the scene
on the holiday called Halloween

updated: 7 years ago