You Light Up My Life

I love Christmas. Last year, I had eight trees in my house.

This year, I have 3750 lights on my bed and breakfast (not including the icicle lights). To be honest, I was surprised by that number when we added up all of the boxes.

I had guessed it was closer to about 40,000.

Nights of Lights has begun in St. Augustine. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry…if you come to town from November 20 through January 31, you’re not going to miss it. There are literally millions of tiny white lights everywhere. (We have heard rumors that you are NOT ALLOWED to use any colored lights, so we didn’t. But I am tempted to use some on our outdoor tree and see if I’m really thrown into the Old Jail).

It’s a great time of year, and it’s wonderful to see so many people throw their recession fears aside and just ring up spool after spool after spool of lights down at the Home Depot.

The best way to see the Vegas-style town is to buy tickets on one of the trolleys–either the Holly Jolly Trolley Tour (904.829.3800) or Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train (904.824.1606). The Holly Jolly Trolley (which is just plain fun to say) is $23 for adults and $10 for kids, which gives you a pass for three days; Ripley’s is $21.99 and $8.99.

Of course, for my money, you can’t beat the FREE trolley ride offered by–guess who?–the Bayfront Marin House. If you stay two weeknights, you automatically get tickets. As they say, FREE is good.

The other thing that’s good is the photo opportunities in the town right now. It’s beautiful weather, and perfect for walking (or trolleying) and enjoying the romantic lights with your partner and your camera. The shot at right was taken by a professional photographer (duh); I snagged it off of a Florida tourism site ). But bring a tripod, and your walking shoes (this shot is taken with a great zoom from Anastasia Island) and really–the city will do the rest.

I have to admit, I’ve never hung lights before in this kind of quantity (and technically, I didn’t do it this year either. Brian and Emery did all the heavy staple-gunning). It took longer than I thought it would. But the results were well worth it.

Even though I had the Debbie Boone song stuck in my head for the two weeks that we were working on the lights. (You give me hope…to carry on!!! You light up my days, and fill my nights….WITH SONG!!! IT.CAN’T.BE-E.WRONG. When it feels, so right. But you………you LIGHT UP MY-EYE-EYE-EYE-EYE….L-I-F-E).

It’s not a Christmas song, but gosh darnit, it should be.

So, if you’re in St. Augustine between now and January 31, check out the display. And spend some money while you’re here–go out to eat, buy some Christmas ornaments. The sound of the cash register will help to drown out the sound of the town’s electric meters spinning round and round like a pinwheel in a tornado.

Debbie Boone and electric bills aside–come on down and enjoy the lights.