Christmas lights and changing times

Jason A. Smith



For a guy like me, it’s always been a good thing. Having certain traditions, particularly during the holidays, always gave me something to look forward to – something I knew I could count on.

Of course, the passage of time usually results in those traditions being changed or tweaked along the way. Before you know it what was once a tradition has been replaced entirely by something else.

I’ve been reminiscing lately about various Christmas traditions my family has had over the years, and how they’ve changed. In some cases, those changes were unavoidable. In others, the holiday status quo gradually gave way to accommodating the traditions and preferences of new additions to the family.

Regardless, I’m increasingly reminded that just because something is traditional, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be the same.

When I was a kid, one of my family’s favorite holiday activities was to drive around at night with my parents, brother and sister and look at Christmas lights in nearby neighborhoods. A couple of the nicer neighborhoods in town were across the street from each other, and their streets were always lined with the most elegant-looking decorations at Christmas time.

After driving through those neighborhoods enough times over the years, we knew what to expect. Still, we made a point of driving through those neighborhoods because we enjoyed seeing those homes all lit up.

It even became a humorous tradition to note my mom’s frustration when we arrived home and saw our own house, virtually unadorned in comparison.

I remember going through one of those neighborhoods years later, and feeling a bit disappointed. Many of the homes that once boasted bright lights, reindeer and Santa sleighs were reduced to darkened shells of their formerly festive selves.

I know there are probably different reasons for it. Maybe there are different people living in those homes now than when I was growing up, and the new residents don’t have the same traditions as their predecessors.

Even if the same people do live there, they are 30 years older now and might not be able to climb onto their roofs and put up Christmas lights anymore. Times change, and sometimes holiday traditions have to change as well.

These days, looking at Christmas lights is a bit different. Instead of looking at people’s homes with my mom, dad and siblings, I’m now accompanied by my wife, daughter and mother-in-law to see the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It’s become a tradition over the last several years, and we’ve all grown to cherish spending that time together during the holiday season.

I love seeing my child light up like a Christmas tree as we make our way around the track, with the cold wind blowing in her face. It’s become one of my favorite things to do around the holidays. I pray that never changes.

The truth is, holiday traditions don’t stay the same from year to year, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Christmas is about more than just pretty lights anyway. It’s about celebrating the glorious gift of God’s Son.

In a world full of changing traditions, He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.