GeekMom Holiday Traditions: Christmas Light Geekiness

Family GeekMom

My mom, my daughter, and I make a point every year to take a drive and see some of the wonderful Christmas lights in our area. Times have changed since I was a little girl with my lanky legs crammed in the back of my parents’ cream VW Bug, defogging the window with the sleeve of my Christmas dress to see a pretty string of lights here and there…maybe even a few houses in a row!

Thirty years later, we go cruising in a SUV with heated seats, large windows that defrost, and a navigation system. Though my mom and I inevitably have the same discussion every year of whether using Google Maps on my smart phone or her old paper map will do the better job of getting us to all of the locations, we have our favorite houses that we don’t really need a map to find anymore.

Lights, like so many things, show a household’s personality. Of course, part of personality is geekiness, so watching programmed Christmas light shows is right up my alley. So many houses in our area opting for fancy light shows set to music; we seek these houses out first, so anything else we see is just gravy.

Compare the car to the tree for scale. Gotta love the Pacific Northwest. Image: Cathe Post

Fancy light shows set to music are incredibly geeky. I talked to the owner of our favorite house, down the hill from where my husband works, about how much work goes into making a “show”. He told me that he works about 20 hours a week from January 1 through Thanksgiving to complete the coding involved in a five song set. Yes, coding. Computer language. I start drooling at the possibilities of what we could do…

Kits and equipment are easily available for making your own light show. They aren’t cheap, but the more computer and coding knowledge you have, the cheaper it is to piecemeal what you need together. There are dedicated websites with full kits, Instructables, and WikiHows on how to program light shows for the holidays and make your job easier as well.

Classic white lights found on this home in Vancouver, WA. Image: Cathe Post

As for the gravy I spoke of earlier, we seem to have our favorites: classic white lights outlining houses, red and white lights, twinkle lights, and my daughter’s favorite—lit candy canes—were found in almost every neighborhood we visited. Some houses though, were…a bit much. The term was used, “It looks like Christmas threw up on that house.” It happens. But hey, at least they have Christmas spirit.

This is one of a few houses we felt had gone a *bit too far with the decorations. Image: Cathe Post

We only have one string of lights that work this year, so our house looks a little like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Next year though…next year…I might just have to get into a coding project with my family.

Happy Holidays!

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