I don’t waste snowstorms.

[stextbox id=”christmas”]NEW FEATURE: Come check out fifteen treasures from the 1999 Sears Wish Book, starring Pikachu, Darth Maul and Bill Goldberg! If you ignore this message, you”ll miss the chance to see a vomiting Jabba the Hutt! [/stextbox]

It snowed yesterday. Just a little.

I guess there was around an inch of it, but only in the spots where it decided to stick. This wasn’t the kind of snow that would last the night, and sure enough, there’s almost no evidence left of it as I write this.


The weathermen say we’re due for another storm, but weathermen are pathological liars. Fortunately, when I see snow, my impulse is to make the most of it as soon as possible. So that’s what I did.


Years ago on X-E, I wrote about one of my favorite Christmas traditions: Driving around the neighborhood to stare at everyone’s Christmas lights. I still love to do that, and it’s even better with a bit of snow.

(Thank you, 106.7 Lite FM, for scoring this adventure with a constant stream of Christmas music. Even the dullest houses seemed perfect when paired with Mariah.)

You can tell so much about people by the way they decorate. Or maybe you can’t, and it’s just fun to pretend?


Take this house, for example. The lights were obviously handled by Professional Light People. This is the kind of family that makes you take your shoes off first. I imagine it being co-run by an aggressive power couple. I don’t think they have children, nor do I believe them to be hardcore Christmas fans. They just wanted to show the rest of the block that they could do everything better. Even Christmas lights.


Then there was this house. It struck me as being a tiny bit sad. They had plenty of lights, but it still felt like they were holding back. Perhaps this family endured a great hardship this holiday season. Maybe they lost someone, or maybe things are just rocky at the office. God bless them for not letting whatever happened ruin their Christmas, but you can so tell that those lights were strung without one smile.

(Or maybe it’s just that the wreaths look like garbled frowns.)


Oh, and this house! The one on the left. I loved it. They didn’t have many lights, but the ones they did have were really OLD lights. You know, the big glass ones that start so many fires? My favorites.

This is the house you go to when your car breaks down. They’ll let you in. They’ll make you hot cocoa while you call the tow truck. Would it be sick to slash my own tires so I can test this theory?


But this is the house you really want to visit. The affable old woman inside has not let age steal her pep. Not a moment of December goes by without Christmas music blasting on her 1987 stereo system — the one that has sixteen devices in a big stack, even if she’s only ever used two of them.

Let’s call her Wanda. Wanda’s saved every Christmas card she’s ever received. Wanda strings thread through popcorn. Wanda will travel to a mall three states away, to buy her grandson the same baseball glove that Amazon has 4000 of. (Wanda doesn’t have a computer, but she does have a Kindle. Her kids bought it for her last year. Wanda has never used it, but she carries it around anyway.)

Her whole house smells like cookies. There are board games from the 1970s all over her basement.

The more I write, the more I’m convinced that an old lady named Wanda really lives there. Truth be told, I can’t even remember what street this was.


Then there was this family. They are spending December in Florida. The lights are there to make burglars think otherwise. Nobody has stepped foot in that house in over a week.


And here’s the house I want to die in. I hope I never meet these real life Griswolds. They could never live up to what’s in my head. I’m basically picturing Santa and Mrs. Claus, but in my vision, they are FIT. Think “six pack Santa.” They wear red and green tracksuits and Bluetooth headsets.

I also can’t shake the notion that they have a tiny, yelping dog.


Lastly, we have this house, which actually isn’t a house. It’s a Chinese food joint.

For one thing, Christmas = Chinese food. For another thing, after driving around for an hour with my bare hands hanging outside the window to snap possibly-illegal photos of strangers’ houses in the freezing cold, I desperately needed wonton soup.


I don’t know why they gave us so many extras. We only ordered soup. Do people really use duck sauce in wonton soup? I bet Wanda would know.


I’m glad I didn’t waste the snow.

When I think back on Christmas 2013, I won’t remember the Cran-Brrr-Ritas or the McDonald’s Holiday Pies.

I’ll remember the night we spent playing the holiday version of Rear Window.