Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Calendar 2011 - Rudolph The Big Big Reindeer

[Note: This post originally ran during the first Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories in December, 2007]

Rudolph, the Big Big Reindeer

In my mind there are three classifications of outdoor holiday light displays: witty, wonderful and wacky. Growing up there wasn't much of a chance to see lights unless we drove down towards New York City or up to Syracuse where more people lived. There you could see entire streets where every house looked as if it were a group effort.

Growing up, holiday light displays meant the traditional C9 bulbs, about 25 to a string, all in different colors. People didn't really go as wild as they do now. I think there are more options to choose from these days: mini-lights, blinking lights, icicle lights, LED lights, lights timed to music, animated figures, gigantic snowglobes, etc.

When I lived in California, the lack of snow caused people to decorate outside even more. I always laugh when I see this picture above - this reindeer was absolutely ginormous - about 30 feet tall with over 4,000 white lights. It used be be located on Tait Avenue in Los Gatos, California but from what friends say it is no longer there. The best part was, if you didn't know it, you'd round the corner and slam on your brakes when you came upon it.

Here in Chicago, which has often been described as a big city with the neighborhood feel, you see more traditional light displays: swags of live greens, red bows, white lights. So when someone puts on a display that slightly differs, it really stands out. One thing I like to see too, perhaps because there are so many block associations here, are entire streets with red bows. Red bows on fences, in windows, on doors, etc.

Our favorite place is Lincolnwood, a suburb north of Chicago in Cook County. These people have money (home prices start at "expensive" all the way to "if you have to ask you can't afford it") and many hire companies to do their decorating. At $1,000 to $10,000 for each home. This is the best: the 30 foot tree looks as if it were growing through the roof. It is very ingenious and I would love to go inside and see how they do it. In fact, a new family bought the house a few years ago and part of the deal was to continue this favorite holiday tradition.

© 2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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