Driving for the lights

I would like to take a moment to send a big Thank You out to the residents at the County Lake who decorated their yards this year and let half the county drive around in their backyards, so to speak.

The family and I heard about the event and, on a whim, decided to check it out. After equipping ourselves with travel mugs of hot cocoa and turning the radio to the Christmas music station, we were off.

And y’all did not disappoint. Growing up, one of the highlights of my childhood was driving around with my family looking at Christmas lights.

As a little one, the twinkling lights captivated me.

As an adult, I still love the lights, but I love the spirit behind the decorations even more. It’s the spirit of giving, a shining, sparkly gift of your time.

As an adult, I’ve been privileged enough to witness the advent of many innovations in seasonal lighting.

Miniature lights have been around for most of my life, even though Grandma was resistant to switch over from the big bulbs.

I remember when the first icicle lights came out, and I promptly convinced my parents to let me hang some from our roof.

Net lights were a good, if slightly boring idea, and plastic luminaries were a definite safety improvement. I’m still not a fan of big inflatable displays (except for snow globes, now those are cool), but to each their own.

Projection LED displays are a newer innovation that can be really neat if used correctly. This year, though, I saw something out at the lake that I’d never seen before, and it took our breaths away.

Sure, I’d seen the stationary laser displays before, usually as just a bunch of green lights on someone’s garage door. Meh.

As we drove through the display though, someone had aimed a tricolor laser display up into a tree, and it was moving. It looked like technicolor fireflies, and we all stared in amazement.

Of course I had to figure out what it was so I could find one for my very own. After some serious online research, I found that I needed an RGB laser display (only later did I discover that they come in stationary and moving types). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one locally, and my apologies to the employees I came in contact with. I’m not usually that fussy about an exact product. Amazon, of course, obliged me.

My intrepid husband also obliged me by setting it up, trying various locations and angles to achieve maximum display effect while striving for minimum driver and pilot blinding.

A visit from the FAA or FBI would not have improved the holiday.

Finally, after relocating the unit several times (and strategically relocating a few lawn ornaments as well), we had our holiday display. Seldom has so much entertainment been had for so little work in the lighting department.

Aimed at a pair of untrimmed crape myrtle bushes, the light treated us to the kind of light density that some folks in the more affluent suburbs of Wichita pay big bucks to decoration services for.

The lights also projected with equal frequency, if slightly less brilliance, into the highest branches of the large trees in the yard. As a Christmas light lover, I looked forward to dusk every day to see the light show once again begin.

As is usually the case, many children’s wishes for a White Christmas went unfulfilled. I was waiting to see what the laser dots would do when snowflakes passed in front of them.

Disappointingly, we discovered that rain did not reflect the lights, just moistened the targets.

Also, as is usually the case, we were a little late getting our tree and decorations put up, and we are late taking them down. I want to get the full festivity out of them, of course.

Sometimes it happens in surprising ways. Tonight, for instance, we had festive firewood as the lights shone on the logs before they came inside.

The barn cats have been pretty festive for the last month, and very few people have seen a Great Dane covered in Christmas lights. It’s quite a sight.

Even a passing possum got festivized the other night. I had to leave him alone, lest I miss and hit the light, Merry Christmas to him.

Then, the longed-for event occurred. After a rain-filled, dreary, day, the first flakes of snow started to spiral down on Friday evening.

I waited anxiously for nightfall. Sure enough, the swirling flakes in the laser beams created a veritable storm of glitter.

The whole yard was alive with dancing lights. It was the quintessential Christmas light display, and my heart was glad.

May your New Year be full of unexpected beauty and blessing, and not TOO much work!

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