My husband and I drove by a house awash in Christmas lights the other night. It was a corner house, and the yard facing the side street held inflatable Christmas icons. The corner itself housed behemoth elves that were two stories high. But the front. The front had all the action. Lit arches, knee-high, flowed across the yard as a backdrop to a dozen small Christmas trees. Sparkling lights hung from the eaves. The lights ran in a pattern, starting softly with a little twinkling on a tree, a ripple through one arch and then the next. Rolling down the window let us hear music–we were at a stop light–and the lights ran faster. It grew to quite a frenzy before they died out and reached visual silence. Then they started again.
This extravaganza fed some atavistic childhood need for Christmas lights. When I was four years old or thereabouts the State Department posted my dad to the embassy in Mexico City. He always drove us downtown for the lights. In Mexico City they go all out, with lighted loops, mosaics, patterns of the Nativity, and buildings awash in light. I don’t remember details well, but my memory assures me that waterfalls of lights cascaded from giant skyscrapers. You’re pretty short when you’re four, so I could be wrong.
After Mexico we came back to the States for a year and then went on to Thailand. In Bangkok they didn’t have Christmas lights. They did have a king, and his birthday was December 5. It was celebrated with lights all over parts of the city. So the five of us got in the car, and we got to see those lights, too. I remember them as all white, outlining streets and buildings like a fairyland. They weren’t Christmas lights, but they were still really good. We loved the king’s birthday.
When our sons were little we popped them in the car and took them to a state park out 270 which was lit into a fantasy land of light-lined toys and trains, Santas and elves, and all the fevered holiday dreams one could imagine. I think it took about 20 minutes of slow driving to get through the whole thing. Whatever we paid, it was worth it. After seeing that one house the other night, I want to go again. My husband may not know it yet, but next year we will.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays!by