When I was a little girl, my favorite part of the holiday season wasn’t the presents or decorating our own tree, or even the time off school, it was getting bundled up and going for an evening drive with my mother, to look at lights.

Some years, we lived in towns where neighborhoods sponsored specific streets, where all the neighbors decorated to the nines, and there was a nominal fee, to help pay for carollers or cocoa, at the end.

Other years, we lived in quieter places, but we’d still find great holiday lights to oooh and aaah over. Willow Glen and The Rosegarden district, in San Jose, are two of my favorite such neighborhoods, because the houses are all unique, and as they’re upscale neighborhoods, the residents have the cash to dazzle passers-by.

Here in Texas, I don’t know the cool neighborhoods, but I’m finding that the one I live in has an amazing amoung of community spirit. So tonight, because we’re both tired, and needed a break from preparing for the impending arrival of my parents, we went driving up and down the streets of our neighborhood, and looking at lights.

White is the popular color around here. We used it, ourselves, in the net lights on our hedges, and the wraps on the trees, and the arched window of our dining room (our tree, however, is strung with colored lights), and it’s still my favorite for defining the eaves of a house, or twisting into trees, but we also saw some amazing multicolored displays, tons of those wire motorized reindeer, lots of spiral Christmas trees, and a few trains. I love the trains. I want a train.

The magical houses, though, were the ones that were a little unconventional. One such house had their trees decked in alternating strands of blue and green, giving the appearance of an under-sea fantasy. Another had strands of white stars, about the size of my hand, hanging from their trees. They seemed softer than regular twinkle lights, and as they swung in the breeze, they shimmered beautifully.

We’re not quite mid-way through December, not even close to Christmas, really, but I’m already finding that I can move past the hype, call up my inner seven-year-old, and get lost in the magic.

I can’t wait to drive my parents from the airport to my new home, detouring through the local park and nearby streets, to see the lights, and let them feel the magic, too.