Christmas Isn't Christmas Without... Lights

There is this memory in my head, of being in the backseat of my mother's Eagle Vista car, vaguely uncomfortable in my down winter gear, and the cold chill of the window, while my fingers tingle and thaw in my mittens. The outside is a dark inky blue, and my mother has asked me and Kirsty if we want to quickly drive down to this neighborhood in Calgary and look at the lights. "They do such a nice job," she says. We agree and then find ourselves slowly cruising along a residential street, brightly lit so that the dark is almost banished.
If we were to be really technical, the season for exterior decoration begins in October, with Halloween. But with Christmas, there is a joy and exuberance to festooning every branch and railing with lightbulbs, and now, mechanical reindeer and blow-up snowmen. Flora always has to add a dash of practicality to it by mentioning electricity bills but then she adds how much she enjoys it anyway.
My house in New York is dwarfed by a looming pine tree that clearly had lights when it was smaller. The cord has now grown into the trunk. For some reason, we never cut the end that dangles around a branch. I would like to re-light the tree, or wrap some lights around the pillars of our porch, but we have no functioning electrical outlets outside. My father's house in Calgary also had a large pine in front with lights that he just never took off after Christmas. I wonder if they have also been devoured by the tree.
I don't know the last time I went driving around just to look at lights. I think it's primarily an urban tradition, a sense of community is needed, obviously. Everyone needs to be onboard with the effort, and (hopefully) non-competitive. There's a terrible book out there that was made into a movie, Christmas with the Kranks. It details how a neighborhood organization went a little overboard in Christmas decorating to the point of the Kranks deciding to opt out and just skip Christmas.
Wouldn't it be a cool boy scout project? Helping your community string (and then take-down) their Christmas lights?Image result for neighborhoods with christmas lights


  1. We'd sometimes go to Confederation Park in Calgary to look at lights.


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