After dinner, the whole family hopped in the minivan and drove around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. The kids sang along with the radio to "Jingle Bells" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." As we drove we saw all sorts of lights, from a modest few strands on the bushes, to the grandiose displays that strung across three entire McMansions. We even saw a house with only a flood light pointed at the 3-foot-long real icicles hanging from the gutters. (It was actually a dazzling display.) We followed some flashing red and blue lights down one street only to discover a woman with her hands spread across the hood of a police car. (Not quite as festive, but still, if you squint and ignore the arrest, the flashing lights reflecting off the snow was very beautiful.)
I couldn't help but laugh at how over-the-top some of the displays were. You just can't beat a yard with a flashing polar bear, a neon pink flamingo, a penguin in a sleigh, and, to prove they know the Reason for the Season, a blinking, sparkling rendition of the Holy Family. We didn't see any lighted Elvis' rockin' out, but I'm sure it's out there.
We enjoyed light displays that, not only would I never set up myself because it's way too much work, but that we also could not afford to power; I could almost hear the dials of their electric meter whirring in the distance. The panoramic front windows of the Great Rooms allowed us to watch their flat screen TVs that were bigger than the windshield of our minivan. I could see the beautiful mantles decorated with greenery and lights and imagined how I would have decorated if that mantle was mine.
After about 45 minutes, we returned home, to our porch with 2 strands of simple icicle lights and our Christmas tree that has been stripped of it's ornaments on the bottom third by our 1-year-old son. In years past, I would have been sad to return to such a modest home after seeing such huge displays of wealth and excess. But today, I am happy. My little house is not just a house. It's our home. It's full of family and love. At the moment, it smells like pine trees and cookies when you walk in the door. It's warm and inviting, and everyone is welcome. The carpet is stained and the walls are the same color as when we moved in. But there's plenty of room for all three of my kids to dance like maniacs and giggle till they fall down.
I love my home. I love my family. There's plenty of time for painted walls and a tree that is decorated all the way to the bottom.