The Rempe Tour of Lights: Fairview Drive

This is the second in a series on Christmas light displays in northern Virginia. To see the first entry, the house on Collingwood Road in Alexandria, click here.

As John Cleese used to say, “And now, for something completely different …”

If the first stop on our light tour was noteworthy for its technical precision and vastness, our second location is best described as an explosion of kitsch in a relatively small space. What the house on Fairview Drive in Alexandria lacks in electronic wizardry, it makes up for in sheer volume.

By my admittedly imprecise count, there are roughly 20 bajillion inflatables filling the yard … and driveway … and roof of this otherwise unassuming house. If you can think of an animated character, odds are that this house has a giant balloon of it.

The only way to really appreciate this display is to get out and among the decorations. Fortunately, the homeowners encourage visitors to walk around the display, with a well-trodden path that winds through the disparate decorations. They even allow folks to walk up onto their porch, where there are—again, rough estimate—about 10,000 animatronic Santas, snowmen, reindeer, and the like, each with a button to push, producing a merry cacophony of mangled Christmas tunes.  (I’m pretty sure my kids pressed each of the buttons, and most more than once.)

Somewhat surprisingly, there is a creche tucked away on the far side of the lawn. While I wouldn’t exactly call it “classy,” there is an odd serenity to it—an island of piety in a sea of crass (but fun) commercialism.

I’ve always wondered what neighbors of displays like this must think. There are some houses on the street that would be the talk of the neighborhood, but for the yuletide supernova next door. Others pretty much have forgone any attempts to compete. The kids across the street, however, have taken advantage, setting up a hot chocolate stand to raise money for a nearby family who recently lost their daughter to leukemia. If you visit, be sure to grab a cup or two, and tip generously.

Like the previous stop, the video below does not do the display justice. If you live in the area and have little ones hyped up on Christmas cookies and holiday spirit, it is definitely worth your time to visit.


The Rempe Tour of Lights: Collingwood Road

At the Rempe household, it never really feels like Christmastime until we have piled everyone into the van and visited our favorite seasonal light displays. Nothing says “welcome baby Jesus” quite like a house covered in LED lights using as much energy as a moderately sized Midwestern city.

While we enjoy all manner of yuletide decorations, there are two displays in northern Virginia to which we always return, and for very different reasons. The first stop here is the house on Collingwood Drive in south Alexandria.

When a light display has its own website, you can pretty much anticipate that it is going to be an experience. However, nothing quite prepares you for how huge this show really is. The house sits across the street from a nursing home, which serves as a prime motivator for the homeowner putting in hundreds of hours in setting it up. The whole display is synchronized to music, which is broadcast on low-frequency FM radio for those driving by. But you really don’t get the full experience unless you take the time to find a parking space, get out of your car, and soak the experience in.

As might be expected, the below videos don’t really capture the majesty of this display. If you find yourself anywhere close to Alexandria around Christmas this year, be sure to make the effort to check it out. You will not be disappointed.

NEXT: From the sublime to the ridiculous …

Waiting on the Mystery

Modern man is not wired to wait. In an on-demand, same-day delivery, download now world, the idea of patiently waiting for something seems at best an antiquated idea, if not a completely foreign concept. We expect, nay, we demand that our needs and wants be gratified immediately, and we are quick to protest should there be any delay in fulfillment.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the month (months?) leading up to Christmas. From the moment the first leaves fall from the trees, we launch ourselves into the “Christmas season” with sheer abandon. Our decorations go up, the carols ring forth, and seasonal shopping begins in earnest. There are Christmas parties and rumors of Christmas parties that keep us running from sunup to sundown, so that by the time Christmas finally does arrive, all we can do is collapse in exhaustion that it is finally all over.

Amid this madness, Advent bids us to wait. Wait on God to fulfill his promises. Wait to listen for His voice. To be still, and to know that He is God.

Continue reading “Waiting on the Mystery”