This post was originally published in 2004; I've updated it for this year's Holidailies!
The most decorated house in Washington, D.C. is right on the D.C.-Maryland line. (For you DC folks, it's on North Portal Drive, just west of the big intersection of 16th Street, Colesville Road, Eastern Avenue, and North Portal Drive.) It's been a mainstay of my life -- I remember all of us piling into the car when we were kids so that Pop could drive us by this house. Back then, it was totally outlined in red lights. We called it (natch) The Red House, not to be confused with The Blue House, which was up in my older sister's neighborhood.
Now, though, it's just amazing.
It's the home of the Bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People, but we just call it The Bishop's House. It's a big, beautiful tudor-style home on a corner lot. Every year, the decorations grow more lavish. This year the trees are wrapped solidly in lights, from the trunks out to the tips of the branches. Busloads, and I do mean **busloads**, of people come from miles around to wander through the back yard display, admire the life-size creche in the front yard, and count the huge candy canes lining the fence. There are reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh, and angels, and a huge globe with "Peace On Earth" spelled out in bright white lights.
The members of the House of Prayer start putting up the decorations in October. I drive past the house every day on my way to and from work, so I get to monitor the progress. The candy canes go up first, along with the big "Season's Greetings" sign that dominates the hill in the back. Then the lights start snaking their way up and down the house, through the branches of the trees, and along the fence. The manger gets set up, along with the snowmen, Peace globe, and various heralding angels, polar bears, snowflakes, and other holiday accoutrements.
Finally, at dusk on December 1, the lights go on. And every night until January 6, the lights shine in the night and the crowds drive by to look. And I, on my way home, look forward to that island of light as I drive home in the dark.