As a celebration, Christmas usually involves presents, trees, seasonal foods and a religious message.
But as a chance to show off a holiday light display, Christmas can involve pretty much anything.
Our yearly survey of the best places to see lights around the Valley includes many of the usual neighborhoods and homes, such as Shanna Court and Shanna Lane, as well as the Springhill Avenue neighborhood near Everything Musical in central Columbus.
Though many of the displays seem dissimilar — some include dozens of figures; others set their lights to music — each of them share one thing: commitment.
“This can’t be something your wife tells you to get out in the yard and do. It’s not going to work,” said Stephen Morse, who has been putting up a holiday display at his Habersham Avenue home for eight years.
Setting up this year involved a week off of work and several whole weekends.
Morse said he always tries to improve his display. This year, it is completely computerized and set to a radio broadcast.
One of his favorite local displays is the Ludy’s Christmas Spectacular, which raises money for Make-A-Wish Georgia and seems ever-growing. “To get to their magnitude is spectacular,” Morse said.
The Ludy’ 2013 display includes a new “mega tree” (there are now two of them) and a 3,600 LED light message board.
The Ludy’s lights are also set to music: visitors should turn their stations to FM 90.1.
Meanwhile the homes on Springhill Avenue, Ogletree Street and Armour Road seem to spread their lights across an entire neighborhood. As the streets criss-cross each other near Britt David Road by Everything Musical, visitors are able to pass by each display with a few quick turns.
Morse said that large holiday light displays are about spectacle and celebration, but they’re also about something more. It’s a way to gather friends, families and neighbors together.
Morse remembers once a neighbor approached him during the holidays — to complain, Morse assumed, about his lights.
The neighbor did the opposite.
“He said, ‘You get our kids pumped up six weeks earlier than we want about Santa Claus,’” Morse said.
5711 and 5753 Springhill Avenue, 2539 Ogletree Street, 5735 Armour Road
6043 Ascot Way
800 block of Lichfield Road
5784 Ironstone Drive (Ludy’s)
6359 Independence Drive
5401 Shanna Court and 5322 Shanna Lane
4802 Floyd Court
3629 Dunhill Drive
4808 Freeman Court
2626 Habersham Avenue