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Christmas Eve, 2011

My wife and I just returned from a drive around Livermore, California, to look at Christmas lights and decorations put up by the inhabitants! If that sounds low-key, it is. But I NEVER get bored….

One of the gifts from my parents, who never had a lot of money but usually did not let us kids know it, was an appreciation for the simple things. The best things in life are, indeed, free (or very inexpensive). I can enjoy the natural world, myself, for almost nothing, but to show you photographs of it requires a reasonably substantial investment of both money and the more precious, time.

I started the day tutoring a very bright young man in math, not because he is failing, but because he has a gift. In that hour, I received Christmas gifts from two families who do not celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas, because they are from another culture, and have another, non-Christian, religion. Both families celebrate the American “cultural” aspects of Christmas, because it helps them and their children to “fit in” better. Since we are ALL immigrants in this great country, I have no problem with that, and I thank them for their generosity.

Such situations are probably very common in multicultural California, and must have been during the history of the United States.

For people who live close to Livermore and would like to see something “different” in Christmas lights, I have to recommend a house on Zermatt Street, which has an incredible display (lights, water, collapsing Christmas trees) synchronized to music broadcast on FM 91.9. The street is actually a court, with one way in and out. Please be careful, because, believe it or not, there will be cars with their lights off and people sitting there watching the display. Just think of it as something that the homeowner enjoys doing and spending a little money to do, but which you can enjoy for “free or cheap.”

To all of you who celebrate Christmas, the religious or only the cultural aspects of the holiday, I wish a very Merry Christmas, and a good night.

-Bill at

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