During Christmas vacation when I was in grade school, my father would tell us to put on our warm coats and get in the car. It was Christmas lights hunting night. I’d grab my favorite coat and run out the front door.
My brother and I would race to the car, shoving and pushing to get the seat behind my dad in the old Impala. The air was crisp and cold, the stars bright and our breath appeared like puffs of smoke in front of our our faces. In the true spirit of Christmas, one of us would call the other, “stupid” or “jerk” and my dad would give us his “knock it off or we aren’t going” look.
My mother always brought hot cocoa in a thermos with extra cups, some napkins while ushering us into the car. If I tripped my brother just right I sometimes managed the proverbial choice seat behind my dad. Excitement crackled the air. This was the beginning of the last nights before Christmas.
After enduring weeks and hours of Catholic masses, bending to our knees, smelling incense, beating our chests with rosary beads and dodging holy water in our hair we are finally able to enjoy the more commercial side of Christmas. My father finds a radio station with Christmas music as my mother begins to sing.
We’d drive the back roads of Sonoma County making our way to Santa Rosa’s West side, known then as the Montgomery Village area. There, known to everyone is a street called, Christmas Tree Lane. It is a looped street with large one-story homes, massive front lawns, and everyone, and I say, everyone on this loop decorated their homes for Christmas.
We’d hold our breaths as my dad turns the car onto the Lane and the first Christmas display reveals itself. Lot’s of “ohhhh’s, awwws and oh my God’s” echo through the car. My dad pulls the car over we’d sit gazing at the row of homes covered in all varying types of Christmas decorations. There were the many manger scenes, some with actual sheep, large wooden statues of elves, Santa flying on a roof, angels hanging from trees, flashing stars, giant sized presents and figures with a mix of large Christmas lights.
We’d slowly move down the street pointing out every little detail. I was sure Santa was a secret angel who created this magic just for us. Towards the end of the loop my father would flip a u-turn and park the car with the heater running. My mother would pour the hot chocolate and we’d sit there thinking up stories about the people who lived in these houses. I expected Santa to come running down the street and wave yelling, “Catherine you are getting the life-size Barbie this year!”
But her never did.
Finally, when we felt we had seen it all, and my dad would slowly drive out of the loop, out from Christmas Tree Lane. I was sure the people who lived there had some special relationship with Santa and their kids probably got amazing gifts.
Tonight Brian and I went for our Look at Christmas Lights Night. They aren’t as plentiful as the once were, although we can find that occasional small blocks that out shine the rest of Santa Rosa. There is one favorite of ours where Santa’s reindeer are towing a classic VW Bug. We laugh every time we see it.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Until next time-
This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.