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A Ford Bronco and eight animatronic reindeer...

One of my fondest Christmas memories as a child was riding to look at Christmas lights, an activity we enjoyed two nights each Christmas season. City kids always seemed to take neighborhood decorations for granted. For those of us who lived in the country, it was a special treat to drive into town and see all of the houses lit up brightly. We would listen to Christmas music on the radio, barely audible above the rush of heated air coming from the vents on our old Ford Bronco.

Our first Christmas light expedition usually took place on a weeknight in early December. Most people had their holiday decorations up and running by then. It's funny how everything looked very different at night. A simple subdivision transcended into fantasy at twilight. Down every road was a new mystery, as paths of shimmering candy canes led to forests of gingerbread houses. Snowmen danced and reindeer bobbed their animatronic heads. To a child, it was a strange and marvelous sight.

Our second Christmas light expedition was usually on Christmas Eve. This time, my Aunt and Uncle would come along for the ride. I didn't enjoy the second trip quite as much, mainly because I was worried that we would stay out too late and miss Santa Claus. In my hometown, we had a radio tower which housed a glowing red beacon near the summit. On a foggy night, the blinking red light eerily resembled a certain allergy-stricken reindeer. Of course, fog was not the only kind of weather we encountered through the years.

For Wilmington, December contains one of the widest temperature ranges of any month (in terms of extremes). The all-time record high for December is 82 degrees. The all-time record low temperature is 0 degrees, set during the big Christmas snowstorm of 1989. The storm was responsible for 15.3 inches of snow in the Port City, with many surrounding counties picking-up even more. Of course, Christmas sometimes brought thunderstorms and heavy rain- one of the joys of living in a southern climate.

Regardless of the weather this year, I hope your Christmas is filled with a true sense of what makes the season special. And whatever you do, take a little time to turn off the cell phone, power-down the computer, and give facebook a rest. Enjoy the timeless novelty of a $10 box of Christmas lights on a dark winter night...

(Read more Christmas memories by joining Jerry's facebook page)

By: Jerry Jackson