The dark days of winter are made a little easier, for me, by other peoples Christmas lights. The people in my neighborhood appear to be particularly insane in this respect, which I love. We are bounded on one side by the super-Christian college campus with its enormous illuminated cross that can be seen from halfway across town and the uber-rich estates that have a seemingly decades-long rivalry to see who can put up the most extravagant display. In the middle though, where the common people live, is a hidden street of mainstream American Christmas gone totally wrong. Think National Lampoons, but with moving, mechanical, inflatables. House after house on this particular street has its yard filled with billowing snowmen and light-up nutcrackers. Gone too, are the simple strings of lights outlining the roof, these people re-side their homes and encase their shrubbery dense nets of mismatched lights. It is American consumerism, keeping up with the Joneses and missing the point all rolled into one.
And I love it.
Head for the side streets and back roads before the season ends, it does wonders for the holiday spirit.