Idaho Couple Wins Lawsuit Over Their Holiday Light Display

iStock/Arina_Bogachyova
iStock/Arina_Bogachyova

If you live in a residential neighborhood, you’ve probably seen a number of houses that take holiday decorating to the next level, stringing an ornate display of lights, inflatable characters, and cornea-scorching good cheer.

But not everyone enjoys these elaborate expressions of festivity. In Idaho, a couple just won a lawsuit they brought against their local Homeowners’ Association (HOA). The reason for the dispute? A grandiose expression of seasonal spirit.

Each year, Jeremy and Kristy Morris blanketed their Hayden, Idaho, home with more than 200,000 lights, invited carolers to sing, and arranged for a live nativity scene with a real camel. The spectacle has attracted busloads of people and garnered the Morris family some local notoriety, evolving into an attraction that might be worthy of admission. No fees were charged, but the Morris family did accept donations for local cancer charities.

But when they relocated to a new home in 2015, the HOA protested, saying that the home was in violation of rules that prohibit homeowners from prompting increased traffic or mounting excessively bright lights on their property. The Morrises, in turn, argued that the HOA was displaying a bias against their religion.

In 2018, after some nasty letters, the Morris clan decided to sue, claiming the HOA was discriminating against them. Jeremy Morris, who is an attorney, asked to be de-annexed from the HOA and sought $250,000 in punitive damages. According to ABC 7, a jury found in favor of the family and awarded them $75,000 in damages, asserting the HOA was in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

But victory appears to be bittersweet for the Morrises, as the protracted controversy and enmity has dampened their motivation to continue their holiday tradition at their current home. Jeremy Morris told the Coeur d'Alene Press that his family will be using the money awarded in court to move his family to a neighborhood more hospitable to their brand of good cheer.

[h/t ABC 7]

Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

iStock
iStock

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

California Retirement Home Put Residents' Vintage Wedding Dresses on Display

iStock.com/raksybH
iStock.com/raksybH

You know you’ve reached a certain level of maturity when many of your once-modern day belongings can be described as vintage. It’s a term the residents of the Stoneridge Creek retirement community are taking in stride this month, because some of their (yes, vintage) wedding dresses are now on display.

The Pleasanton, California retirement home has created an elaborate presentation of more than 20 dresses with various laces, styles, and lengths, some of which date back to 1907, along with wedding photos and other memorabilia to commemorate Valentine’s Day. The public is invited, but if you’re not local, you can catch a glimpse of the dresses in the video below.

This isn’t the first time Stoneridge Creek has made news. In 2015, a number of residents came together to craft quilts for residents who had served in the military. The group worked in secret to make the customized quilts honoring their service, then surprised them with the gifts on Veterans Day.

[h/t ABC7]

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