I remember several years ago walking on my parents' vacant lot where their custom home now rests. It took over four years to design and build this home... they angled it in such a way as to take full advantage of the view. Almost every room in the house faces towards the mountains, and all have massive windows. It was Christmas, two years ago, that they triumphantly finished construction and were ready to move in. I remember taking their Christmas card photo in the empty living room. My mother set up a small tree with decorations. They were so excited.
I recall standing in the backyard, overlooking the valley, and my mother bragging about how no one could ruin their view. Shortly after this, the neighbor's newly planted tree on the bank mysteriously came down with a fatal fungus, and when the neighbors on the other side moved away, someone had several trees on their bank yanked out in the dead of night. My mother just happened to overhear the new owners one day, while they were standing out on their deck, exclaim dumbfoundedly: "Why... they're all gone!" Two days later my beaming mother showed up on their doorstep, cake and cookies in hand, innocently welcoming them to the neighborhood.
Over the past few years more and more homes have started cropping up across the valley on the opposing hillside. I remember commenting to my mother a while back that she has no control over what is built there. She replied, "It's ok... at night it will be quaint to look out and see all the little glowing homes..."
Today, the largest house across the way is also at the highest elevation. It has a long, barren driveway that steeply winds up to its entrance, with a grand black metal gate at the bottom. The house itself, being a tract home, is rather conspicuous, bright and boxy. We became fascinated with this home, while relaxing on the porch during lazy summer afternoons. Because it sits on a hillside, the swimming pool is technically in what would normally be deemed the front yard. One day, while gazing upon this grand beauty, we noticed two tiny specks swimming in the pool. The couple had just moved in and must have been enjoying their fine purchase. Binoculars in hand, my ever so curious mother was determined to get a better look. She walked over to the edge of our property, and strained to see, hot pink mumu blowing in the wind. To her surprise the couple actually waved back. We laughed and waved, too.
Well, life goes on and we all but forgot about the boxy beauty across the way. Fourteen months ago, however, the aquaphiles decided they'd better decorate for the holidays. Seeing that their abode is so large, adorning the thing with Christmas lights would probably prove quite treacherous. Instead, they had a rather brilliant idea... "Why not turn our home into one big, bright, light?"
Three gigantic spotlights appeared in their front yard one morning, and, for the following week, their home glowed as bright and shining as perhaps the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem. If that image doesn't do it for you, think Gotham city... bat-signal. And then, just when we thought it could not possibly get worse, the couple put colored filters on the spotlights, making their monstrous abode glow neon green.
My parents were horrified.
I could, at this point, insert a picture of the green house for you to see. A photo would not, however, do the thing justice. Simply use your imagination, and then quadruple the magnitude of your wildest spectulations.
Christmas was at our house that year, but no one noticed my mother's Christmas village, or her beautiful lamps and grand kitchen. The green house stole the show, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time.
You have to understand, the windows in my parent's home are so grand that, when you pull up to the front in your car, you can look right through the front windows and see right out the back. Now, all that one notices is the green house leering at you through layers of construction. At night, if you tiptoe out to the kitchen for a midnight snack, the green house taunts you the whole way. It is hard to read a book... watch tv...
They took the spotlights down after the New Year, thankfully, but this Christmas they are back.
Tonight it is wet out and, the glowing behemoth reflects quite beautifully off the thick layer of fog. The windy road up to their entrance is glistening green.
There is no Christmas village this year in my mother's living room, and we had our party at my cousin's.
We've schemed up all sorts of ways to get revenge (which I'll keep to myself in case one of our plots comes to fruition). My mother wants to turn them into the authorities (who she imagines care about our plight). My father wants to leave them an anonymous note. Possibilities include:
"IT'S A TRACT HOME SILLY, NOT A CASTLE"
"WHEN ARE YOU DIGGING THE MOAT?"
I, personally, would prefer to gather the townsfolk and storm their foreboding gate with torches, pitchforks and wooden stakes.
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people. " ~ G.K. Chesterton