On the night before Christmas Eve, a vintage vehicle decorated in Christmas lights pulled up in front of our home. I was a little taken back when three individuals approached our door, but when they announced that our home had won an award in our neighborhood Christmas Light contest, I was overjoyed- okay I was a little more than giddy.
Having grown up in Cedar City, it was tradition that my family of nine all pile into our 1972 Ford Squire Station Wagon on Christmas Eve. We hit all the hot spots our little town boasted of in the late 70’s including Cowan’s Christmas display on 200 North. And of course, it was always a competition to see who could spot Santa first as he flew his sleigh over the Post Office roof (present day city offices). Then if no one was fighting yet, we drove through Cedar Knolls- the elite neighborhood of the decade decorated in the finest décor.
Following our Christmas Eve adventure, we returned to our small red brick home which was meagerly decorated in one strand of lights; I am sure it was never a destination on anyone’s “Christmas Eve light parade.” Our lights were not arranged in any type of sequence, and hanging lights with my dad on 2nd East always seemed like a chore. Dad insisted on hanging the lights on the coldest night of the year and since I was number six of the seven kids, it seems like I was always one of his recruits. Before hanging the lights, we tested them to make sure they worked and then we hung them. But try as we may, once we hung the strand, it seemed at least one light no longer worked. Mom would then scrape together what spare money she had and would drive to the old Cornet (present day Ace Hardware) and make the desired purchase. The light was replaced and our Christmas light hanging process was complete for another year.
Fast forward a few years to the next century and Rigby and I are now making Christmas memories with our own children. I am not sure if hanging lights on your home is a laborious process, but it is at ours. We try to make it fun, Christmas music, hot chocolate, and Santa hats, but somehow something always goes awry. When our children were small, Rigby was our resident Christmas Elf. Christmas was bigger than life itself. In fact, I have one specific memory of four-year-old Stockton falling asleep on the front porch because he was determined to help hang the last light (there is nothing quite like a four-year-old at Christmas). But as our children have grown and have become teenagers, they have not been fooled by Santa hats, hot chocolate, or Christmas music. Unfortunately, Christmas lights have become synonymous with work. Even Rigby the elf has become worn down by their attitudes and life itself. It seems that life has begun to truly suck the light out of Christmas.
This Christmas, it appeared I was going to lose the battle of the lights, and we were going to do the minimal. I must have looked a little disappointed as Rigby gave me a wink and went to work. Once again, he decorated my “gingerbread house” well past daylight hours as he has done for so many Christmases. It truly made my heart merry.
So yeah, an award for outside Christmas light décor, is kind of a big deal for this girl from “dog town.” However, the truth of the matter is that I would give anything to be back on 2nd East hanging lights with my Pops (he celebrates 81 this April), and climbing into that 1972 Ford Squire Station Wagon with all nine of us again, would be the best gift of all.
In the words of the Grinch who stole Christmas, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more.” Maybe Christmas is not about the lights or awards, maybe Christmas is the stories, the traditions- the treasured memories.