Welcome to Christmas Card Lane

Christmas card lane, https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl 2012

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)

16 thoughts on “Welcome to Christmas Card Lane

    • I’m glad to hear that people still do that. Every morning on my way to work I drive by my greenhouse which has some beautiful Christmas lights and garlands. It’s always the same, yet I never get tired of looking at it.

  1. I think we miss a lot of observations because we’re so plugged in, especially younger people. I rarely use the Ipod my daughter gave me when I run– prefer to listen to birds and hear approaching cars.

    • I’m with you Lisa. And I see you must be running again! 🙂 I do some of my best thinking in the silence of a run or bike ride, and I hear the chaos start collecting when I’m not able to do that every few days.

  2. Sounds lovely. It brought back fond memories of a block of homes that went crazy with lights and Christmas displays when I was a kid. But it was all very artistic, not like the lawn displays of dozens of giant, blow up characters you see today. Ugh. Jones Beach used to have a holiday lights display that we’d drive through in our car. Pretty sure there’s nothing at Jones Beach at the moment after the hurricane.

  3. One of my fondest memories is when my daughter visited me on Christmas when I was living in Saskatoon and she was going to school in Victoria (BC). It was lightly snowing on Christmas Eve, and we drove around the various neighbourhoods that had themes (not exactly Christmas cards, but everyone on the block put up decorations according to the theme).

    One block was normally called Murphy Cresc. At Christmas, the residents renamed it Smurphy Cresc. and all the decorations were of the various Smurfs. Another was Candy Cane Lane, and the decorations were all variations of the decorations for Christmas, including lots of candy canes of various sizes.

    My daughter and I laughed and pointed at the many eye feasts and sang Christmas Carols together in the car as we drove from place to place. It was an event that I have treasured ever since. I don’t know if they still do that anymore with the decorations. It would be a shame if they stopped.

    • Wonderful story Sandra, and you completely captured the essence of what I was trying to say in this post. The family experiences are priceless, and often prompted by the simplest things, like your experience with driving through the neighborhoods to see Christmas decorations. Thanks for sharing your priceless memory.

    • Thanks Lisa. I think it’s a great way to build neighborhood community, although today people would probably be too concerned about offending neighbors who don’t celebrate Christmas.

      Plus, now I know the name, the last name at least, of my neighbor who lives in that house. And I guess all the readers do too.

  4. There’s a neighborhood in the Michiana area called Windingbrook, which has massive Christmas displays every year. Not Christmas card lane–think thousands of lights, miniature trains circling in front yards, and Santas on rooftops. We took the kids a few times, and it was worth seeing. Most displays are classy instead of tacky. Now, it’s gotten so big, they have traffic directors. People pay now to get in, with all money going to charity.

    I think Christmas Card Lane is such a nice idea, though. There’s a neighborhood in town that has a luminary walk–both are much quieter versions.

    • We’ve driven through places that have the big light displays too, but I do think I like the low key ones better. I’m also seeing a lot of tacky Christmas displays lately – probably because decorations are much more affordable now than they were years ago, especially when we were kids.

      BTW, yesterday I drove by the old Christmas Card Lane and saw the sign up – it’s still there!

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