On my fifteen minute walk home from school, through a residential neighborhood in Wembley, something seemed off. I couldn't put my finger on it. Something just wasn't right about the scene unfolding around me. Then it dawned on me: here I was, at the beginning of December, and I didn't see any houses decorated with Christmas lights.
In the suburban neighborhoods of the United States, especially near my home in Santa Clara, the Christmas frenzy starts around Thanksgiving.
People try to outdo each other with their lavish and over-the-top exterior Christmas decorations.
I guess Americans really do live up to our reputation of wanting to outdo everyone else!
Baby, When The Lights Go Out Londoners are known for their British reserve. I mean, go on the tube and you'll never see more people trying to be as invisible as possible.
I suppose this applies to Christmas decorations as well. Nobody wants to be that house. The one that so blatantly draws attention to itself.
As cheesy as Christmas decorations can be, and how detrimental they can be to your electricity bill, it is something of a cultural tradition for me.
To not see houses bedazzled with lights and other ornamentation makes it feel a little less Christmas-y.
As I pondered all of this on my walk back, I rounded the corner down the street from my house. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimmer of surprise.
There it was: one single house with a string of modest Christmas lights around the window. It may not have been much, but it was enough to put a little smile on my face, and to add some Christmas cheer on an otherwise unassuming walk home.