Adapted from a feature originally published Nov. 29, 2012 11:31 a.m. Some of the content has been slightly revised in this post.
What is it about Christmas lights that get most everyone excited? I know I enjoy looking at them every year!
Growing up, my parents and I would always ride around town looking at Christmas lights at least one night each December. We always seemed to be amazed that more people didn’t decorate, but inevitably we’d eventually come across a house (or two or three) that would give Clark Griswold a run for his money!
“Is this the airport, Clark?” ~ Aunt Bethany, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
My interest in Christmas lights grew even more once I was old enough to help decorate my grandparents’ house. It wasn’t long before they pretty much let me put lights out in the yard in whatever style I thought looked good at the time (I’m not sure it always really did look good!).
Fast forward to this year. I just finished putting up outdoor Christmas lights at my house a few days ago, and my wife and I even bought a set of those new-fangled LED lights that are super vibrant without using much electricity. And yes, I mixed them with the old reliable mini lights that have been popular since about the 1980s. Hey, when it comes to Christmas, there are no decorating rules, right?
We haven’t started decorating on the inside yet, but I’m already wondering if we have enough lights for the yet to be picked out Christmas tree. (I’m secretly hoping we don’t, so I can go look and see what else is new on the market).
Then, there are those huge light displays that pop up this time of year. Locally, Lights of the South in Grovetown and Hopelands Gardens in Aiken come to mind. At Lights of the South and many other similar displays across the nation, people willingly pay their hard earned money to mingle among the thousands of Christmas lights and in some cases they pay more for hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee and snacks. It’s just something a lot of people do this time of the year.
Sometimes entire towns are decorated from one end to the other—such as Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville in Tennessee. Those three towns collaborate each year to put on “Winterfest“, a three-month long celebration of lights from November through February.
I think the reason people enjoy looking at Christmas lights so much is that it represents hope. The bright, multi-colored lights against a dark winter’s night backdrop help us to realize there is Light even in the midst of darkness. The lights everywhere lead up to the celebration of Christmas Day, and, for some, Hanukkah—both holidays filled with hope.
If you enjoy the lights like I do, I hope you get a chance to experience them this year. There’s an opportunity to experience lights and Christmas carols at Augusta University’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting, coming up on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
One of these nights soon, I’ll be riding around town looking for them! If you know of an exceptional lights display, please comment below.