He had a huge property all bounded by a big, white fence end to end. Along that fence was an old country road where few people drove.
He decided he would set up a Christmas light display like he’d heard about others doing. It took him some time to gather all the lights necessary, but eventually through the sweat of his farmhands and an absurd number of extension cords, he was finished. When sunset came, the first car to come down that road got an amazing sight.
The entire fence was covered in lights! Fence post after fence post, crossbeam after crossbeam, the most dazzling, amazing collection of lights they’d ever seen! The driver immediately called his friends and family and told them to get out to the old country road and within hours, the traffic was backed up for a mile.
At the end of the display, he had a couple of farmhands waiting with donation buckets and sure enough, he raked in several hundred dollars that night. This went on for weeks only getting more and more popular and even despite the high electricity bill, he turned quite a profit on the display.
And so it went for the next few years. His light displays got more and more elaborate. They synced to music. They twinkled in time to the passing cars. There were LEDs and lasers, inflatable reindeer and glowing manger scenes, and everything in between. He started to notice, however, that the number of cars began to dwindle each night.
Whereas folks used to come from counties around to see the fence, the numbers grew smaller and smaller each night. At the end of the season, he’d seen maybe a tenth of the cars.
The months passed and November crept up again. The farmer headed down to the feed and hardware shop to gather a few necessary supplies for the display and couldn’t help but overhear a couple of the customers talking.
“Yeah, it just ain’t what it used to be. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it were pretty and all when he got it started, but something ’bout it nowadays just ain’t fresh.”
“I know. I wish he’d do something different. Something original. Everybody’s got them Christmas lights now.”
This incensed the farmer. He spent hundreds of hours every season making something amazing for the world to see and they were treating it like so much manure from his barn. He would show them.
He raced back to his farm and he ripped out every single light from post after post. He tore out the inflatable Santa and knocked down the wise men. And when he was done, he meticulously strung the exact same red and green lights on every square foot of that fence. “I’ll show them. They think they can take me foregranted, we’ll see how they like this boring mess.”
The first night of the display, the visitors (small in number as they may have been), were astonished. Their phones lit up with dials to their friends and neighbors. Soon enough, the line of cars stretched back miles and miles, longer than it ever had in the heyday of the display.
The farmer shook his head while his farmhands stood agape at the traffic. “I don’t believe it! How could this be so popular?” the lead farmhand asked the farmer.
“It’s simple. Everybody says they want to see something original but what really gets them going is the same old post over and over again.”