Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My Overachieving Neighbors

Becky posted pictures tonight of her neighbors' lights.  It got me wondering again whether I could get any decent photos of my neighbors' lights.  Some of the results will be posted in this entry.  They'll be grainy, because I lightened them all, and because my 5-year-old Mavica isn't that great by current standards; but you get the general idea.

Tucson has a neighborhood called Winterhaven, where the homeowners' bylaws require everyone to have a Christmas (or other December holiday) display.  People walk or ride or drive through the neighborhood at Christmas.  Cars are only allowed on certain nights.  There are hayrides, and the bus takes payment in canned food donations.

the house with the big tree Winterhaven is very nice, but in recent years, our neighborhood has been nearly as impressive.  When I walked around tonight, though, it looked like a relatively dud year. Maybe some houses didn't turn on their lights tonight.  Of course, we're "part of the problem."  We haven't put up our spiral tree yet, much less tried to string lights from the orange extension cord.  I feel so guilty!

Still, there are quite a few nice displays.  The most impressive, as always, is the one on the corner of the street just east of ours.  They have a tree a couple of hundred feet high, far too tall to take the lights down between Christmases. They put snowmen on their roof, and lights and figures all over their yard.  I took a bunch of photos of their property from different angles.  See the photo album above.

It's not the best display I've seen, though. There used to be a house about five miles from here that had the most amazing Christmas display in town, if not the state.  It had everything--hundreds of thousands of lights, music, animated figures, train layouts, villages, dolls, stars, Santas, reindeer, snowmen, and a large lit crèche.  The display went on and on, even into the yard next door. On some nights, two real fire engines were parked out front, decorated with lights and presents.  The owner of the "Christmas House" dressed up as Santa, and there was a guest book to sign.

candy canes a-glowThe Christmas before my friend Shiori died of leukemia, I took her out to see the lights. She already knew that the bone marrow transplant from her harvested cells had failed, and she was going to die. Rather than spoil anyone's Christmas, she came home from  the hospital for a while, and kept the bad news to herself until after New Year's.  I suspected it might be her last Christmas, though, so I wanted to take her out to see the lights as much as she wanted to go.

One place we stopped was at Tracy and Teresa's house.  Tracy had worked for Park Mall for a number of years, and had brought home some fiberglass reindeer the mall didn't want any more. There were four of them outside, and I liked them a lot. So I took Shiori to see them.  We chatted with Tracy for a bit and went on.

Naturally, the main place I planned to stop that night was the Christmas House off Speedway and Pantano. I drove up there, but there was no sign of a house with an extravagant display.  Had I gotten the street wrong?  No: there was the house with the giant cross.  Near the cross was a  sign:

"The Christmas house is dark..."

the trees next doorThe sign explained that the uber-decorator's  wife had recently died.  Apparently, that loss robbed the Christmas Man of the joie de vivre and energy to spend hundreds of hours between Halloween and Thanksgiving setting up his display.  I checked back the following year, but that house was not decorated again.  Not like that, anyway.

But here in my neighborhood, the house with the big tree is lit more brightly than ever, and they're not the only ones with a display worth looking at.  The people next door have this year's big innovation in Christmas decor, an inflatable figure running off an air pump.  Their inflatable is a tree.  I want one of those!  At the end of the block, another family has another giant inflatable, a polar bear in what looks to me like a wizard outfit.  I really want one of those!  A different family has an animated train that I also like a lot.  There are candy canes, and rope lights spiraling up palm trees--oh, lots of cool stuff, really.  But not at my house.

the wizard bearAh, well.  I'll get something up, some pathetic, tiny last-year's-model display, put up at the last possible minute.  But it will be better than nothing.

Meanwhile, I'll enjoy what my overachieving neighbors have done.



jeff466 said...

I'm Sorry to hear about your friend Shiori.  That is touching that she didn't want to tell anyone until after New Years :)  

Thanks for sharing the pictures of the lights!  They look beautiful.  We have a neighbor that puts up so many lights each year that they had to pay the city to install another  transformer since they kept overloading the shared one.  I shudder to think of their electric bill!  I tried to take a picture but it looks washed out since there are so many lights and I too have an older Mavica!  Jeff

deabvt said...

Thanks for the beautiful story!
Happy Holidays!

ryanagi said...

I saw no less than 3 of those polar bears around here...he is wearing a sweater and matching ski cap. LOL