Each year at this time, I look forward to the Free Lance-Star edition that lists the best Christmas light displays in the area, compiled by Rob Hedelt. Readers nominate the best decorated houses, and then Rob checks them all out, covering the city of Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties, and names a winner. Years ago, he called this the “Glitzy and Gaudy Tour,” but I guess some of the participants found that a bit insulting, so now he calls them “Grand Holiday Displays.” Some years, we’ve driven to see many on the list, other years just a few, but the season really isn’t complete until we’ve done our own review of at least a couple of houses.
So tonight, after all of the Christmas festivities were winding down, and when everyone was just starting to drift into unconsciousness from overeating, I suggested we go see a few of the homes. Husband and son agreed to go, so we checked out the five that were closest to us, including this year’s winner, which turned out to be the least impressive (although maybe the most original) of the lot. The winner was a large brick farmhouse with 8 vintage tractors out front, decorated with lights, and linked together with strings of lights to look like Santa’s sleigh.
But for us, the best ones aren’t high concept—they are the houses that simply give us the greatest number of lights per square foot. And don’t waste my time with plastic blow up Santas, or this year’s favorite, the giant snowglobe. Icicle lights might be pretty, but you get extra points if you can give me an impressive display without using too many of them (they’re just too easy). My husband loves strings of all-blue lights, and music and animatronic figures are also a plus (the lighted, motorized reindeer with the bobbing heads were out in force).
And this year was a big year for LED lights, which you can spot right away because they have more blue in them than most. They take less energy and last longer, and if that means that I won’t get my tree strung or the outdoor lights set up, only to discover that half the lights have died a day later, I’m all for it. I’m definitely going to see if I can get a set or two during the post-Christmas sales. I think it may be time to step up my game when it comes to my own not-very-grand holiday display.