Our townhome sits in the middle of a long row of homes and this year, ours is the only townhome with holiday lights. Perhaps it's a sign of tough economic times or people trying to be more energy efficient. Or it could be a result of living in a diverse community with people who don't follow the tradition of putting on holiday lights.
I completely understand and respect each person's decision to not put up holiday lights. But I can't help but feel a hint of sadness every time I pull up in front of our townhome at night and see our house all alone in its glowing holiday cheer.
Growing up, I always remembered how special it was to drive around our neighborhood during the holidays. Even simple trips to the supermarket were made extraordinary because along the way you got to admire homes decorated with holiday lights.
I recently discovered that certain streets in the Bay Area, such as Fulton Street in Palo Alto, are known for their holiday light displays. In fact, Fulton Street is nicknamed Christmas Tree Lane and has been known for its lighted trees and decorated houses since the 1940's.
I decided if our neighborhood wasn't going to give my children the holiday light displays I remembered from my childhood then I was going to bring my children to a neighborhood that did. We bundled up, jumped in the car and navigated our way to Christmas Tree Lane.
I could tell my husband was a little irritated that we were driving to Palo Alto just to see a street famous for wonderful holiday lights. While we sat at a red light on Middlefield, my husband pointed out a house with icicle lights and family of blinking snowman.
"That doesn't count," I said.
He grimaced and turned left.
When we finally made it to Fulton St., we were all taken back by the beautiful, twinkling displays. We noticed several families walking by the houses so we decided to park and do the same.
Christmas Tree Lane is a few blocks long - the perfect distance for 3 and 4 year old walkers. The best part was showing our children all the different ways people chose to decorate their homes. Each house brought squeals of excitement from my children, and each new squeal brought a smile to my face.
Admiring homes with holiday lights is one of the few holiday traditions that doesn't require purchasing something or getting dressed up. My children weren't asking where the presents were or whining for one more cookie. It was a simple night made extraordinary because we took the time to admire homes decorated with holiday lights. It will definitely be one of the highlights of our holiday season this year and, hopefully, for many more years to come.