Southpoint (for my friends who don't know) is a mall in Durham, right off the interstate between the airport and Winston. And it has a plethora of awesome stores that we don't have here in Winston--Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Restoration Hardware, just to name a few. We ate at The Cheesecake Factory, looked (unsuccessfully) for boots for Lib to wear in Philly, and headed home.
It was dark as we hit the highway (even though still relatively early) and I couldn't help but notice the Christmas lights...or lack thereof.
We all know how old I am--there was a big countdown a few years ago--and one of my fondest memories as a kid is driving around town, looking at the Christmas lights. (Grandma Hazel was a big fan of that particular pastime. In fact, she insisted we drive around town at least once a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas to see if any had been added. This may sound like a waste of time, but as our entire town consisted of an area of about seven blocks by three blocks, it only took about fifteen minutes. Twenty if it was Grandma herself driving, as her own personal approach to driving was to not actually touch the gas pedal.)
Our own house at 32 Washington Street (I don't live there anymore, so please don't try to stalk me at that location) had lights on the front porch, which was actually kind of an off-to-one-side porch, and in the bushes below the porch. These lights, as I recall, were those big, multicolored, elongated bulbs. They were opaque as opposed to transparent, which made them glow in a diffused, softer light. I think maybe we had two strings, total (it wasn't a very big porch). But other houses had more lavish displays--lights outlining the entire roof, 20 foot front yard evergreens covered in lights--even farmers got into the action, putting lights onto fences and outbuildings.
I thought of this as I drove along the highway, where the only lights were headlights and neon. I was hoping once I started into town, there would be some Christmas lights that were a little, well, friendlier.
And what I found was, in a word, disappointment. Even in my neighborhood, where folks have the money to (a) buy lights, and (b) fork over a little extra to Duke Power, I noticed a dearth of Christmas lights.
Why don't folks "do" lights anymore? Yes, we're all concerned about conservation, but there are LED lights out there, and it's only for a few weeks. Some folks are hanging onto the one white candle in every window thing that I used to do when my kids were small (and, don't get me wrong, that's a look that works in the big Georgian homes here in the BV), and there are a few people who place the "netting" of lights on top of their azaleas. (FYI-I consider this cheating. And it looks too perfect--not homey or warm, the way lights are supposed to look. A little too organized for my book.)
Maybe we're all driving to those big light displays--we have one here in Forsyth County--and they are fantastic--but still lacking in the warmth I remember as a kid. There's nothing quite like the strings of multicolored bulbs hanging on the front (or off to one side) porch.