by Shannon Daly
Everywhere I go.” Or maybe I should begin this blog with, “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.” For me, there are many components that go into creating the ideal Holiday vibe. First, the weather should be cold, enough to enjoy a hot chocolate, but not so cold your nose hairs freeze together if you stand outside for more than a couple minutes. The snow should fall lightly and steadily, but not so much that you can’t get out with the kids to build a snowman or go sledding. And people should have holiday cookies readily available for me anytime I show up at their house. The most important factor in creating a successful holiday atmosphere, however, the thing I look forward to MOST at this time of year, is Christmas lights. (Yep. I used the ‘C’ word.) It’s sort of a family tradition of ours to see who can spot the first lights of the year. We get in the car and drive aimlessly through the neighborhoods looking at all the different lighting schemes people put up to showcase their homes and demonstrate their love for the Holidays. I especially love the homes where I can see their tree through the window; makes me feel like I am personally invited to come in and partake of their holidays. I love living here in Stapleton because there are so many streets to venture down; It’s sort of like getting twice the amount of lights in half the time. There are several houses here in ‘the hood’ that deserve mention for their decorative efforts, but probably the ‘piece de la resistance’ is the house at 34th and Trenton on the east side of McAuliffe International School. If you drive by from afar, you can’t help but think to yourself, ‘I’ve got to keep driving, that crazy house of lights is going to give me a STROKE!’ But if you stop long enough to take it all in, you will find yourself mesmerized by all the colors and motion, lights dancing, jumping, frolicking in rhythm. At first, it seemed like a bit much, and too ‘busy’ to really exude the essence of Christmas I was accustomed too. The second time I drove by the house on my way to run errands, I had my twelve year old with me. ‘That house has the craziest lights,’ I mused, watching them with a sideways glance. ‘I wonder what the 97.7 means?,’ I queried, mentioning the number drawn out in white lights posted on the front of their porch. “That’s the radio station the lights are synchronized to,” she replied as if that was the most obvious answer EVER. Twelve year olds. Gah. “What? What do you mean ‘the station the lights are synchronized to?’” “Turn the radio to 97.7, and watch,” (insert indignant tween eye roll here.) ‘Oh, yah, right’ I thought, ‘how dumb does she think I am?’ But she had already switched the station and was now giving me the raised eyebrow smirk she developed when she was probably four. “Watch.” And there it was. Manheim Steamroller’s rendition of ‘Carol of the Bells.’ I pulled over so I wouldn’t hit anyone, (there were quite a few other ‘gawkers’ who had stopped as well. Good thing the McAuliffe parking lot is adjacent to this home so people can park and watch without interfering with traffic.) It was magical. The warmth of my car, the sounds of a ‘semi traditional’ Christmas carol, and a synchronized light show, all for me. I stared, jaw slightly agape, as the lights flickered and danced with the harmony of the music. Some were slow and flittering, others fast paced and boisterous, highlighting the big beats of the drums from the song. Wow. I can safely say this light display made the AWESOME twinkling lights my father put up on our house when I was a kid look quite ‘passé.’ I hadn’t ever experienced anything like it. “Um. We’re going to be late,” my daughter said, her voice breaking my trance. “Just one more song,” I replied, “is there another song?” I asked, wild, childlike excitement resonating in my voice, deferring to ‘the expert.’ “Yes, I think so, but really mom, we need to get going.” I sighed and put the car into drive and slowly rolled down Trenton. As we crawled along the street, Manheim Steamroller stopped, and the song changed. I slammed on the brakes and looked back to my right. Amber Riley from Glee started humming, and the lights slowed and methodically changed their course to match her rhythm. I can’t tell you the song, because I wasn’t allowed to stay long enough to figure out what it was, and soon we were too far out of range to receive the 97.7 signal, but I’m going to go back when I have more time and figure it out. I will probably bring some popcorn and a hot toddy to enjoy as I watch just to create the full experience.
I don’t know what technology makes this possible, but I am definitely intrigued and will be looking into it for upcoming blogs in case anyone else is as curious as I am. I don’t know how long it took to set it all up, but I have to say, “thank you” to the family who did it because it will definitely make this year’s list of one of my ‘Favorite Things.’
If you have some time to kill, or even if you just need to run some errands somewhere north of 35th, I urge you to drive by 34th and Trenton and take a minute to stop and watch this house’s light show. I don’t think you’ll regret it. And, if there are other houses you know of who have really outdone themselves with their holiday decorations, please share it here so I can swing by and see them too. I’m going to have a bunch of open nights with two rambunctious kids, and I can use all the help I can get!