While out running this morning, I noticed one of my neighbors had placed a quaint reminder of Christmas long ago in his front yard: a handmade, painted Christmas card sign, propped up in the front yard, with a spot light to illuminate it at night. “Seasons greetings from the _______” it proclaimed, it’s elf and reindeer resplendent upon the four by four sheet of genuine plywood. Seeing this immediately brought me back to a simpler time, when folks in my city lined up in their cars to see “Christmas Card Lane” each Christmas season.
There was a certain street in my city which each year, proclaimed itself “Christmas Card Lane.” Residents erected a huge sign at the entrance to the street, which said “Welcome to Christmas Card Lane” painted across a Currier and Ives back ground. Then, for about the next three weeks, cars would line up nightly to drive down Christmas Card Lane and see the handmade Christmas cards that the majority of the homeowners displayed in their front yards. More than once we joined this queue, kids in the back seat, slowly creeping down the street among the bumper to bumper cars, to look at the homemade painted Christmas card signs propped up in the snowy yards of nearly every home.This was more than just a custom of a neighborhood putting out plywood Christmas cards. No doubt the neighbors had a meeting each year to decide on the details for the Christmas card display, and helped each other put up and take down their signs. This simple event built community and fostered neighborly togetherness. No matter what your faith, how could you not like a neighbor who put a large message of peace and love in their front yard each year?
Today, this all sounds terribly quaint. I don’t think I’ve seen the big Christmas Card Lane sign for some time now. I expect that as the original homeowners died or moved away, new residents moving in probably said “What? Once a year we have to make a giant Christmas card, and set it up in our yard, so we can be held hostage in our own driveway while strangers clog up our street with traffic?” Today, folks are probably much too occupied to spend an hour or two on a snowy night driving slowly up and down a street to look at homemade Christmas yard signs. The kids in the back seat would no doubt be texting instead of peering out the windows with their noses pushed up against the cool glass. They might glance up from time to time, if only to film the spectacle to put on YouTube – with a title like “My parents are holding me hostage on Christmas Card Lane.”
But, it wasn’t just about driving down a street to see Christmas yard signs. It was about a family doing something traditional together, in a relaxing, unscheduled way. It usually involved hot chocolate and cookies after, with all of us gathered around the table, and nothing else distracting us or calling us away. No TV, smart phones or texts. What could be more important than a relaxing evening with your kids, doing nothing better than just being together?
Maybe my neighbor, with his plywood seasons greeting, will start a new tradition for my community. I think it would be a good thing.
© Huffygirl 2012
Related link: Waiting for Santa (huffygirl.wordpress.com)