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!

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2 thoughts on “Lights

  1. Ms. Montgomery,

    When my kids were young we lived up in Germantown, MD, and always drove through the Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg (this might be the place “out 270” you mentioned). It’s a good show, but now that our boys are either married or in college, their priorities have changed.

    Also, being in Northern VA now, that’s a bit of a drive for a 20 minute show. However, a good NOVA alternative is the Winter Walk of Lights:

    Yeah, you gotta walk, but it’s still pretty cool. My wife probably won’t be able to do this for too many more years, but for now it’s her favorite Christmas light show. Then we’ll be back in the car, I guess.

    On another note (referencing your previous post), it’s great to hear about your printed copies of Sleeping Duty. I won’t be at LibertyCon – I only go into the city when I must, and even then I kick and scream and cry louder than any ill tempered 3 year old. I even hold my breath, because that’ll show ‘em.

    But if you offer autographed copies for sale through your website, you can be sure I’ll buy one. The e-book phenomenon is great, but for books that I expect to read again, I try to have a hard copy.

    I’m not usually an “autograph” kind of guy, but who knows; a first edition signed Laura Montgomery (obtained before the movie franchise makes you rich and famous) could be the golden inheritance I leave for my kids. Regardless, it would be neat to have, since I’m fond of the story.

    And yeah, I think Sleeping Duty would make an awesome film. I think the American Egg Board ( would concur. Might even provide some funding.

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and your family.


  2. Scott, that is the park we went to. I couldn’t remember it’s name. The NOVA walk looks awesome, too, and I’m wondering if I can figure out how to get there this year. If not now, then next year for sure. Thanks for the link.

    I’m now, btw, waiting for my second proof of Sleeping Duty. The first one had Walking Late on the title page rather than Waking Late. I’d missed it in earlier proofing. I’ve always been bad about seeing titles and headers. I’m now waiting for the second proof copy with bated breath.

    We will have to figure out how to get you an autographed copy. As for the movie, do, please, keep working on that.

    Thanks again for the link to the NOVA lights, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

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