One of my favorite things to do every Christmas is check out the lights and displays along Hampden, Maryland's 34th Street. Every Christmas the whole street gets into the act with traditional and artsy holiday displays. It's not a neighborhood association thing, people just participate because they get into the spirit. The photo on the left is from someone's Flickr account and shows the (in)famous street.
For the past couple of years, people have posted videos online of lighting displays timed to Manheim Steamroller. But this year, as my friend Michelle forwarded to me, someone has timed his lights to Guitar Hero. Featured on Holidash, Ric Turner, a former Disney special effects engineer, found a way to plug his Wii into his Christmas lights. Visitors can try their hand at playing "Cliffs of Dover" by pushing the doorbell. God love this guy's wife...
Visual displays are a common way to spread Christmas cheer. As written about in the New York Times yesterday, a lot of people have turned to picture cards created on any number of online photo-sharing sites. However, a few photographers banded together to share Christmas tidings the old-fashioned way (and do some good in the process). PBS posted a story on the PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association - hundreds of photographers - which has volunteered to take free portraits of military families. Deployed soldiers keep photos of their loved ones close to their hearts - often literally - while on missions, so these will be particularly welcome gifts this season. The network will show an actual new story sometime near Christmas.
And finally, Xerox has a promotion online where individuals can send holiday greetings to our fighting men and women overseas. Xerox is taking designs created by children and printing them on postcards. All you have to do is pick a card and then a greeting (or write your own), and Xerox will print the card and mail it for free. It only takes a few minutes and will brighten a soldier's day. If you only click on one link today, I hope it's this one.