Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

(Photo by: Flickr user blue ridge laughing)

One of my favorite traditions as a child was the day we drove around and looked at Christmas lights.

A week before Christmas (or there abouts) my parents would load my brother and I into the car with a thermos of hot chocolate and a few cookies to begin the annual tour. There were some houses we always hit: one of them looked a lot like the picture at the top. It was owned by an elderly couple who went out of their way to make Christmas bright for others. And over the years we got to know this couple & their talking parrot. They would invite us in for mandarin oranges & an opportunity to take a look at the decorations inside their house. Sure the outside was a bit overwhelming, but it was always fun.

It was a sad day when we drove up to their house and there were only lights around the windows. We went and knocked on the door to see if they were okay. They were fine, it was just, they said, that they were getting too old to put up all those lights themselves & they'd hired neighbours to put them up the year before, but it hadn't worked this year. But, if we drove another five blocks we'd find their friends who they had given all the lights to.

So we drove three blocks and began to see the glow. Not only had these friends put up all of the original decorations, but they had added to them, along with a sign out front that said something about an injury their son had sustained the previous summer & how these lights were very special to him, but that they wanted to give back, so if the viewers enjoyed the lights, they could make a donation which would go to charity.

And then it invited you to walk through the yard.

It was magical. The whole yard had been transformed into a winter wonderland, and when you got around back, there was the couple with candy canes for all the kids & some antique ornaments that they were showing off. When asked why they did it, they were quick to mention their son's desire to do it, but also they wanted to share it with the community.

There were other houses that we visited (one even had a live Nativity play in the backyard!), some of the homes were classy, others were tacky, but it was a very communal event. There were other families looking at each home, getting out of their cars to look around. It was also a special family event: an evening that we all spent together, even through my university years, this was still what we did when I got into town.

On Tuesday night, I had been out shopping with a good friend of mine and on our way back to her place, we saw some houses with lights & decorations and began to reminisce about our childhood adventures looking lights (like my family, hers had done a similar tour each year, though hers was usually much more spontaneous). So we drove around the block looking at lights.

There weren't many houses with them, but like always some were classy & some were ridiculous.

But it made it feel like Christmas. And I loved it.

I'm not going to see my family for Christmas this year becuase I have shows on Christmas Eve & Boxing Day, but one night next week after work I am going to get on a bus, and just ride it for a while & take in the lights. Maybe I'll fill my ipod with Christmas music :)


schartzr said...

I remember going light watching. I wish I still did that. Maybe this year.

Lois Dawson said...

you should! If you wish you still did, that's a great reason to do so!