Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

During a time wherein many things are famous that don’t seem to warrant all of the attention, it’s refreshing to have found an attraction worth all of the buzz it gets: the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. I drove out to see the lights on Christmas Eve in this southwestern Brooklyn community with my husband unsure of what to expect.

Driving around and taking in the best of the local Christmas lights on Christmas Eve was a tradition in my family growing up. My sister and I would dress up in our favorite velvet dresses, the kind that usually had lace and pearl necklines, and we’d brush our hair and do our best to look worthy of the mound of presents we’d receive the very next morning. We’d pile into the family car with my brother and parents and make our way to church for the Christmas Eve service. Our little hands that cupped the hot chocolate we’d drink after the service were usually red from candle-wax burns. We were blushing and excited, at least according to my memory, and then we’d race to the car, careful not to slip on the icy pavement, and my father would drive us all around town looking at the beautiful Christmas lights.

%Gallery-174271%Even as I got older, some of the lights would manage to dazzle me. The immense effort some people take in putting together spectacular Christmas light shows would amaze me, even as a surly teenager who refused to wear or own a fancy velvet dress. The quiet of Christmas Eve can be magical, even long after you’ve stopped believing in Santa. And those twinkling lights capture enough of that magic to make even the most stereotypically seasoned and jaded New Yorkers flock to Dyker Heights each December to see the lights.

We nosed around the neighborhood looking for the 13th avenue and the 80s streets after having been told that’s where the best of the best lights would be. We parked and walked around in awe and we were in plenty of good, excited company. Parents propped their children up on their shoulders for a better view. Adults posed for photos in front of an elaborate collection of moving, singing carolers perched atop a front yard fence.

I’m not crazy about a lot of facets of Christmas, but the lights are fun, no matter which way I look at it. I’ll admit, however, that I was just as impressed with some of the Dyker Heights houses as I was the lights. Nothing quite accents ornate Christmas decorations like your dream Brooklyn house.

If you haven’t seen the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights yet, some may still be up! If not, pencil the trip in for next year. It’s worth it.

A Christmas Light Show To End All Christmas Light Shows

Making Christmas festive while on the road

While the song might say, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” being on the road offers the excitement of places new and getting away from it all. Particularly, if staying at home means endless hours of decorating, baking cookies, and trying to make a day “perfect.” Instead of feeling relaxed with that holiday glow, you’re left feeling frazzled and about ready to bite someone’s head off.

Being on the road also avoids the let down feeling after presents are opened, the food has been eaten and darkness has set in because it’s winter and 5:30 pm (or therabouts), at least if you live in the northern hemisphere. However, being on the road can be a let down if you like the holiday trimmings and want to have some visual markers that a special time of the year is in one’s midst.

I’ve been on the road a few times on Christmas, and being one of those people who adore the holiday, but also adore travel, I have found a few ways to combine the best of both. Tinsel is a good place to start.

One Christmas we headed to Nepal to trek from Jomsom to Pokora on the apple pie trail. In my backpack, I packed a long tinsel garland, a silver musical bell that shook and played three Christmas songs when you smacked it, and stocking stuffers for the friends we were traveling with. I asked for everyone to give me one clean sock to put their loot in, including those gold foil covered chocolate coins. We also did a name draw where each of us received on nice present from someone in the group. Christmas Eve I pulled out the the bell and the garland to decorate the small, rough guest house we were staying at for the night. We also had gifts for the guest house owner, her kids and our guide and sherpas.

Another Christmas was spent in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was my son’s first Christmas, and my daugher was nine. I bought some wall decorations, Santa hats and their stockings with us in our suitcase. While shopping Christmas Eve, I found some more Christmas ornaments to add a festive flair to our hotel room.

Last year, we went to Florida for Christmas. Christmas Eve was spent in Orlando. My four-year-old, soon to be five year-old, was happy to see traveling didn’t mean forgoing Santa and a tree. I bought a small table top tree, ornaments, a nativity scene and my kid’s stockings along. The tree even lit up. In each hotel room we decorated the tree and hung up the stockings. It established each place as “home.” Redecorating the tree went fairly quickly, and repacking was a me and kids’ task. The ornaments fit in a tupperware container so packing was easy and kept the ornaments from getting tangled. Toilet paper squares work wonders.

And, don’t forget to bring a favorite holiday CD along with you. Music works wonders for creating a joyous mood. If you have any ideas that you’ve tried on the road to help make the season bright, let us know.