Make Your Own Christmas Memories With a Tour of Island Homes with Cool Light Displays

Holiday lights image 1When I was kid growing up in Upstate New York, the Christmas season was a truly magical time of year. Normally, we’d have snow. Lots of snow. Sometimes it looked like a Winter Wonderland outside and felt like a line out of Bing Crosby’s iconic tune, “White Christmas”. You get the idea.

My Dad was a member of the local Optimist Club, and every year they would sell Christmas trees in an empty lot, not far off a main drag. One year, I helped out and I can remember the warming hut with hot chocolate, the lights strung up around the periphery of the place, the falling snow piling up on the trees, and then shaking off a snow-covered tree when someone wanted to take a looksee.

That vivid memory reminds me of “A Christmas Story,” a movie about a Midwest family’s school, home, and holiday experiences in the 1940s. There are some great bits about life growing up in that era and some wonderful throwaway lines like, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”. If you’ve never seen it, “A Christmas Story” is definitely worth the watch, if for nothing else, just to take in Ralphie’s soap in the mouth scene. Classic stuff.

Back then, in the 1960s when I was growing up, it was a simpler time, and someone in our neighborhood inevitably would organize kids and adults, and we would walk from house to house and sing Christmas Carols – usually familiar songs like “Jingle Bells,” or “Silent Night.” Often times, people would listen to us at their door steps and then offer us Christmas cookies, or, if they were really in the Holiday Spirit, eggnog. Now that was a treat!

For a lower Middle-Class kid like me, Christmas wasn’t always bright lights and shiny toys. But my folks – who both worked – did their level best to deliver the goods. On Christmas day, a long red stocking hung from the banister at the bottom of the stairs, and it was usually filled with oranges, varieties of nuts and candy canes. Someone was always designated Santa Claus, and that person – usually one of my siblings – doled out presents to the rest of us and we tore them open one by one, with as much glee as we could muster. Of course, my Mom, a true child of the Depression, made sure we saved all the boxes and wrapping paper for next year. Waste not, want not!

Holiday lights imageLater that day, we would invite an aunt or uncle or two over to the house, and we’d have a nice dinner with roast beef or a ham as the main course, followed by a dessert of pumpkin pie or minced meat pie – always served with a dollop of ice cream. And, why not, my Dad would say, it was Christmas after all! That evening, or on future nights during Christmas week, we would visit one of my Mom’s nine brothers and sisters and share our Christmas memories with their families, all the while wolfing down an aunt’s homemade cookies and washing them down with milk, or, if we were lucky, eggnog!

Christmas, though, wouldn’t be Christmas without lights. We’d string up a few on the outline of our front porch and my Dad would position a couple of three-foot tall lighted Noel candles (made of plastic) on either side of the front door, and that was our contribution to the season.

Other people took it way more seriously. One of the things we would do during and after Christmas – usually on the way to an aunt or uncles house – was tour neighborhoods that had amazing light displays. Red, green, white and blue lights festooning trees, surrounding windows, hanging off of eaves, and so on. There would be snowmen, deer, the Nativity scene and more – all a feast for the eyes. The most unusual one I recall was a nearly life-sized display on someone’s roof of Santa’s sleigh, complete with reindeer, and the old man himself with his red suit and beard, driving the sleigh.

Holiday lights image Lights make things come to life and help create their own sense of magic and wonder. When I was a youngster, the lights bouncing off the snow was truly captivating. Now as we enter the dark ages of Deep December and the holiday season here on Bainbridge Island, lights can be charming, fascinating and, dare I say, therapeutic.

For as long as we’ve lived on the island, we’ve continued the tradition my family started oh so many years ago by driving around this time of the year – heck you can start at 4:30 p.m. – and checking out the Christmas, er, holiday light displays. It still gives me goosebumps.

Downtown Winslow, of course, is fantastic, with the stars positioned over the street, and all the stores with their lovely light displays. But what we find both entertaining and awe-inspiring is either walking on, or driving down, a dark street and suddenly coming upon a house, or maybe a series of houses with some incredible lights.

We’ve found any number of well-lit houses on the island, with fantastic light shows, blow-up snowmen, Santas, reindeer and more. You can find festive homes in just about any neighborhood on the island, but we especially liked some of the ones we discovered in these areas: Commodore West, just off Lovell Avenue near Wyatt Way, the new subdivision across from Rotary Field on Weaver Way, Meadowmeer, and Yeomalt Point Drive.

Enjoy the lights and the season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

If you’d like to read more articles from The Island Wanderer Blog website, click here, to subscribe to The Island Wanderer Blog, click here.

ADVERTISE WITH US! We offer exceptional rates and packages for advertisers, to learn more, contact us at Contact Us | THE ISLAND WANDERER

Scroll to Top