What do you do about Grinches?

Discussion in 'The Family Room' started by elnino, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. elnino

    elnino Full Time Elf

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    So this is the 3rd year I've done lights. The first year was awesome, and the whole street was really on board. Most of my street is fairly well lit including the house directly opposite me (but neither on each side of me). I had a couple of minor issues with neighbours but it was easily managed by a friendly chat.


    My street is fairly well known and attracts a lot of visitors but to quote the non-grinches in the street 'my house put the street on the christmas light map'.


    The second year was a little more intense and I had 2 of my neighbours expressing significant displeasure with the lights due to traffic/noise (I only use an FM transmitter so i'm not making the noise). One of my neighbours came at me with a shovel, another called the cops because he could not get to his driveway for a few mins and another threatened physical violence.


    Now this year, it's just getting worse. I have so much support from the rest of the street (even those that do not do lights at all) but I have 2 (same) neighbours getting quite vocal about their displeasure with the lights. Further police threats and tonight being told 'This is the last year you will be doing this, i'll make sure of it'. I'm not sure what he can/thinks he can do to stop it but that's where its at.


    They have been deliberately parking their cars on the road in awkward spots so as to block the flow of cars (it's a pretty narrow road), abusing and heckling visitors and having a go at me every time I see them. I have only ever been polite and calm when talking to them. I have reduced my show to only 2 hours instead of 3 but this does not seem to have appeased them at all.


    Part of me thinks bugger it all - Just don't bother (and they win) but the other part of me thinks no, stuff them.


    This is causing a lot of stress and anxiety for my wife and I at a time of the year everyone is trying to relax and have fun which I'm trying to promote. Has anyone else come across this? Had to deal with it? Shut down because of it? Did you win your neighbours over? Am I a prick for pushing on with it?


    Really wondering if it is all worth it....
     
  2. OP
    OP
    elnino

    elnino Full Time Elf

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    So last night when I shut down, I went outside to pack up the traffic cones that I use to block off some of the road to stop people parking there and had one of the neighbors start yelling abuse at me. I think he was waiting for me, it scared the crap out of me because I didn't even know he was there. This is the one that came at me with a shovel last year.


    He was yelling at me saying i'm an effing donkey hole, effing selfish pr*ck etc etc. WTF? Yeah, I spend countless hours and thousands of dollars each year to put on a light show for absolutely NO REWARD (Not even collecting for charity this year) and I'm selfish.


    He went on to say he is going to report me to the council and have me shut down. I said that is fine as long as they shut down the lights in the whole street too because we have to keep it fair for everyone.


    This particular neighbor is a bit of a grumpy old man (but not old, 50 ish). He lost his both his parents close to christmas time about 5 years ago so 'christmas is not a good time of the year for him' and I am sympathetic about that but I don't think that gives him the right to drag everyone else down. We have all lost loved ones, myself included (and close to christmas) but that does not make me want everyone else around me to feel the same pain, it actually drives me to do things like the lights.


    That being said - The whole idea of christmas lights is to bring people happiness at christmas time. If my neighbors feel so disrupted/upset/against the lights and it is causing them grief, am I really achieving what I set out to do?


    I'm really torn here.
     
  3. Bevo

    Bevo Let your Light Shine before men

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    Sorry to hear about your not so happy couple of neighbors.


    This is the Best time of the year for a lot of us and we like to let our lights shine for the right reasons and not for our own glory but to make others happy. We also do not do it to upset our neighbors but you will never please everybody.


    I too have had one complaint about one McDonalds cup being left on the footpath by "one of my people". So now we do a walk up the street each morning and pick up any rubbish left behind and to be honest it has been very clean this year.


    You should never let your neighbors dictate to you about what you can and cant do with your lights and your own home. Please feel encouraged with your display and the multitudes of happy people who would have viewed your lights this year and how much they will be looking forward to see what you will be creating for next year.


    Please keep doing your lights for the larger community and don't get too discouraged by a couple of Christmas Grinches. They can always move if they really hate it that much ;) .


    Have a Great Christmas.
     
  4. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    It is a hard one, because after all you do have to live there. That being said, the only thing i can think of in this case, is try and talk to them to find out what it is that upsets them most.
    See if you can come to some compromise. If it is too late then shut the show earlier on weeknights, or maybe say have a couple nights off and advertise it with some signs or on facebook the changed hours.
    If it is light going in their windows then try and screen it somehow.
    If it is the music blaring from cars that is going to be the hardest one as I know some of the young drivers that go past here have MASSIVE stereo systems in their cars and just love base boost. Maybe you could turn the gain down of the transmitter after a certain time.
    If it is a driveway issue, again a bit of a problem, but maybe you could offer cones in front of his driveway to stop anyone parking there.
    If it is no to all of the above and you cannot work out a piece, then just make sure you find out all of the council bylaws, regards lighting, structure height etc and abide by them or get a letter stating it is OK what you do, make sure the transmitter is under the legal power or get a license and try and get approval for the music that you use, if you are really worried that he will carry out the threats, that way you have all the box's ticked before he can do anything.
    But trying to get them onside is going to be by far the best way, albeit maybe the hardest.
     
  5. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    Ignore them and enjoy the joy you give to the majority.

    If you focus on the few grinches then all you are doing is taking away from your enjoyment.

    Anyone doing this must realize that there are always 1 or 2 grinches in your neighbourhood that will complain. but they are the vast minority and more times than not are not community minded people. So if they have a valid complaint then try and work something out with them, but what you will find is most wont be happy until you stop the show.
     
  6. OP
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    elnino

    elnino Full Time Elf

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    This is actually really hard for me and has been causing me to lose a lot of sleep.


    I am very torn. If they were just grinches, then I would persist (one of them is and he can get stuffed), the other however, is so negative towards the lights because of the fact that they have an autistic son of about 12 years.


    The Kids bedrooms are about 5m from the road and the music and noise from the cars in general cause him to be on edge with the disruption.


    If any of you know anything about autism, this means they are going through hell for the 2 or so weeks I have the lights on. For them, i'm sure this puts a big dampener on christmas. We came to some agreements last year and I received no complaints at all from them. They have not talked to me about the lights since then other than to abuse me, no civilized discussions. I have never been abusive back.


    I am fairly confident that if it was not for this autistic boy, there would be almost no issues at all with the neighbors (they bounce off each others rage).


    This year the 'just grinch' neighbor was abusing people just because they were coming down the road. Deliberately put his bins on the road to stem flow etc. The other was generally going outside yelling at people to turn radios down and stop people from stopping outside his house. The noise was not excessive. I only heard a few car stereos over the 2 weeks I had the lights on. There were a few loud cars as well though.


    I guess teaming up the negative factors of doing the lights - Neighbors, money invested, stress, time, family impact etc combined with dwindling numbers (partly due to abusive neighbors) and only being able to run the show for about 2 hours a night over 2 weeks is really making me side towards not bothering.


    There's a good chance that they are just going to make it harder and harder for me to do the lights each year by getting police/council etc involved not to mention the other stuff like APRA, ACMA.


    The ultimate question is - Is it worth it? My current feeling towards that is NO.
     
  7. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    I think you have been very reasonable making the show only 2 weeks and for 2 hours and was similar to what I did before I stopped the show (my reasons were just time and energy)

    I would have thought the autistic child would love the lights. but all the people and lights may over stimulate him which would make it difficult for the parents, it is a difficult situation.

    But lets look at it this way, you are being abused because you create a free light show at Christmas for the community to enjoy and your neighbours are making you feel bad about it. Who actually looks bad here?

    If you build it they will come and that also includes the grinches, just talk to Shell about the hassles she has had with a few minority grinches that have taken it all the way to try and stop the show. but what you find is the police and the council are community minded people and generally support these types of displays. I had the police called nearly every night and what I was told as long as im not breaking any laws then they wont do anything but they still have to attend and they would argue at the station on who got to come down because they enjoyed seeing the show.

    You have already done a lot of compromising, seems like the neighbours only want to negotiate a complete stop of the display regardless of what compromises you do.
     
  8. thecrazylightlady

    thecrazylightlady Yes I admit it.....I have the C.L.A.P

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    It sound like you are being very reasonable, im lucky that all of my neighbours love my lights, i used to put a letter in their mail box every year letting them know when it was going to start, how long it was going to go for and asking them if they had any problems to please come and see me so we could sort it out. i also have a voice over in between music asking that visitors please keep the noise down and not to block the driveways. My neighbour accross the road has roller shutters on the front of her house and said she hears and sees nothing of the visitors to my lights, so may be you could work something out with your neighbour with the autistic son to do some sort of noise blockout for his room?. As for blocking the road with bins and abusing your visitors, maybe you could do that to their visitors, see how they like it
     
  9. damona

    damona Full Time Elf

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    Video the response. It's bully behaviour and not acceptable. You can get a music license for free for a limited period, might be a small admin cost. They sometimes send Christmas Thank you email. Means its legal to broadcast the music for non-profit.
     
  10. Karob

    Karob Let there be Light!

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    Hang in there Andrew


    I have asked the question to myself more then once as I know my next door neighbor is far from excited about the lights, I have not had any level of abuse that you have tho so I totally understand.


    I am no legal minded person but I cant see how his threat about shutting you down can get anywhere at council or police level. If you are not the only one in the street doing lights then the council will have to force every house in the street or council area to not turn on Christmas lights, could you imagine the backlash from the media towards the council that would follow such a decision. All councils would be wary about such bad PR.


    I guess you could always approach the council and the police to see where you stand, may also be good to mention the level of abuse (eg shovel) that has been said to, threats of violence towards someone is treated serious by the police and your neighbor may find he is closer to being in trouble then you are.


    With the comments I have seen about your display I say keep your chin up and continue to spread the Christmas cheer in this ever increasing depressed world.
     
  11. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

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    I can see both sides of the situation. Christmas lights can be a wonderful thing, bringing people together and giving enjoyment to many. You'll often catch up with people from surrounding streets and listen to the kids marvel at the lights.

    Displays that cause access issues or encourage late night visitors can be a real concern for neighbours. I do think a lot of displays are excessively bright and/or noisy and run way too long into the night.

    It's all about being reasonable on both sides. I'm sure most neighbours don't mind the inconvenience that a display can bring as long as it's not excessive. Long term sleep disruption can really take its toll on those that go to bed earlier.
     
  12. bbayjohn

    bbayjohn Full Time Elf

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    I have some Grinches. Next door claims to be epileptic now. (When they moved here he used to drive a car everyday) So I have shielded the display with use of plants and took all the lights down on that side of the house.
    The epileptic next door asked me to take the cd's out of the apricot tree. The cd's were supposed to scare the birds. Anyway the tree wasn't fruiting like it should, so I got the chainsaw out and cut it down. The cd's are out of the tree lol. Maybe he will think twice now about steeling my power, stabbing my blow up Santa's, turning off my meter box and just generally leave me and my property alone.


    The Grinch across the road was really nasty and would start fights. Funny though, how he used to hang he's own lights out the front. Abusive threating notes signed from the Grinch. Would put nails along the kerb and let my tires down. He moved away thankfully.


    The important thing to note is your house is now part of a family tradition. Many people enjoyed looking at your lights and cant wait to see what you do next year. It brings a smile to so many in this struggling time. You shouldn't stop unless you don't find it fun.


    Good luck & all the best for 2017
     
  13. logandc99

    logandc99 Dedicated Elf

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    Yes this is a difficult issue. We are lucky in that all our neighbours are ( so far) happy with our Christmas lights and come over with their children all the time. The issue with the family who has the child on the autism spectrum is a difficult one. I can talk from personal experience as my 11 yr old son is on the autism spectrum which certainly has its challenges but he is an amazing kid and I love him to bits. But life for people on the spectrum is a difficult one. People on the spectrum experience a ton of anxiety just trying to understand the world , something that we so called "neurotypicals" take for granted. My son loves the Christmas lights ( heck it's not like he has an option at our house[emoji3]) and I get him involved with them. But different kids will react differently to stimuli and the lights and the potential crowds visiting a display can be potentially very stressful. Having said that, I don't think there is an excuse for parents to be abusive and it sounds like you have made compromises to try to minimise the effects from the display. Have they brought him over to see the display - it is often the unknown and unfamiliar that makes a situation extremely stressful and create the anxiety for people on the spectrum. We do lots of preparation with our son to minimise anxiety when it comes to new situations, often visiting places before an event. However, people on the spectrum all react differently , some seeking stimuli, some distressed by it. We are fortunate that our son is more towards the high functioning end of the spectrum so that helps whilst others maybe more severely affected. You could try slowly introducing the boy to your display while it is off and then while it is on as that might take away some of the anxiety and he may even come to enjoy it (or even just start with some photos). But it depends on how receptive the parents are to such an idea. Also, once you have met one autistic person, you have met only one autistic person - they are all different and have quite a unique and at times amazing way of seeing the world. Maybe see if you can find out how the lights are affecting their child and see if there is any way of resolving the issue - it may be simply resolved ( like introducing him to your display while it's off) or it could be causing intense distress for him. But that might be difficult to find out if the parents are seeming to be unreasonable. Sounds like you have tried to reach out to resolve the issue already but perhaps there is still a chance for dialogue. Remember the parents will be very protective of their son ( as all parents are) and may be struggling with the challenges that having an autistic child produces resulting in what appears to be unreasonable response you your display. Just some thoughts. Hope you are able to come to some sort of resolution because Xmas displays like yours bring so much joy to so many people.


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