A Favorite outing this Year
We don’t plan on taking many big outing this season but one small one we take each year is very close to home. One evening before Christmas, quite possibly this weekend since the temperature around here has been unseasonably mild, we take a walk to our town’s business district just a few blocks away.
Just before Thanksgiving each year, the local firemen string greenery and lighted wreaths across Main Street. They also set up a child size village in the park next to the library. At the center of this village sits Santa’s house (it’s actually more like a shed) and on weekends following the Holiday parade, which is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Santa hangs out there and talks with the children who stop by.
All of the little shops downtown have holiday decorations in the window and the theater is usually showing a Christmas play. Occasionally, there will be trolley and carriage rides as well.
A block or two past Main Street we can follow the glowing lights to the biggest Christmas display in town. Six houses and their yards are all lit up and filled with numerous holiday items. They have all eight reindeer peeking out of their stable, moving Dickens carolers, blow up figures galore and even the California Raisins (anybody remember there?) wearing Santa hats! Holiday music is piper overhead and Mr and Mrs Claus have been know to show up here as well.
For about thirty years the families who live in these houses (father and sons) have made this display a tradition in town. They start setting up in September and open the display in December each evening from 5:30 to 8:30 for all to enjoy. Even though our kids are grown we still go. It’s a cool little outing that we look forward to each year. What a great way to get in the Holiday spirit!
Each December my father would hang a string of colored lights from the roofline of our home. Another string would be wrapped around the bushes under the front windows. In the big front window, mom and I put the candy cane my grandmother had made, which dad wrapped with twinkle lights. We added lighted stars on either side.
After night fall we would gather at the curb to appreciate our work. I was always amazed! It was so beautiful, as if our simple little rancher was dressed in fancy clothes, ready to celebrate the holiday .
We still hang Christmas lights on our house today. Of course when I say “we” I actually mean my Hubby. My only job is to stand at the bottom of the ladder and nag him about being careful. (I continue this nagging when he climbs up the ladder a second time to replace the bulb at the top of the peak that inevitably blows out). When he is done, our family, too gathers in the yard to enjoy the display.
I was wondering where and when this tradition began. This is what I found out:
Christmas lights (also known informally as fairy lights) are lights used for decoration around Christmas. The custom goes back to the use of candles to decorate the Christmas tree in upper-class homes in 18th-century Germany. Christmas trees displayed publicly and illuminated with electric lights became popular in the early 20th century. By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights as along streets and on buildings Christmas decorations detached from the Christmas tree itself. In the United States, it became popular to outline private homes with such Christmas lights in tract housing beginning in the 1960s. By the late 20th century, the custom had also been adopted in non-western countries, notably in Japan and Hong Kong. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_lights
Christmas lights are certainly a popular tradition in our town. There are numerous homes glowing from top to bottom. On one street, a few blocks away six families combine their yards to create a lighted Christmas village complete with Mr and Mrs Claus and all eight reindeer! We make the time to visit each year and also to drive around appreciating all the other homes dressed up in their Holiday finery.