When we were kids, my mother used to like to drive us around in the evening looking at X-mas light displays. It seemed an innocent way for a Jewish person to appreciate something about the holiday, particularly in Italian neighborhoods in New Jersey.
I’ve retained my love of X-mas lights, and Rich has truly indulged it. We’ve seen Christmas on the Pecos twice–a boat out of Carlsbad, New Mexico to view individual houses decked out in competitive glory, and been twice to the Zoolights in Phoenix, which is glorious and where I’ve enjoyed the sense an escaped tiger might be lurking around a corner. The Winterhaven neighborhood in Tucson is psychadelic and extensive (but can’t help wondering, do they evict you if you don’t decorate?). The Albuquerque botanical gardens is sweetly lit up in season.
But here in Alabama on the Gulf Coast trip I think I’ve just seen the greatest of all– Bellingrath Gardens. We started at dusk to see the gardens themselves, with camellias and roses still blooming, lots of pansies in urns, beautiful trees, fountains, pools, and funny decorative beds of parsley and cabbages. X-mas lights everywhere–acres and acres–3 million lights creating everything from intimate holly berries on holly bushes to enormous lake displays of flamingos, golden fountain, and swans floating on their own reflections. Not to mention a huge Chinese dragon, red lanterns, a pagoda, fireworks in lights, golden carp, lily pads…southern flowers, a creche, unicorns and rainbow, beavers, a train…we’d entered a world of glittering images where magical creatures co-exist.
At home, our across the street neighbors lovingly put up a dazzling display on their roof each Christmas. Reindeer nod and the whole house glitters. this trip is coming to an end–I look forward to seeing the lights of home for a few days more before they come down.