Your Sense of Play

I know that Christmas lights use too much energy. They aren’t the best thing for our environment. But there is something about the big light displays that bring me joy. Maybe you, too.

When I lived in California, there was a magical display every Christmas at a house at the end of a cul-de-sac. Another house on the street had a big lighted arrow, pointing to the display, which said: DITTO. That always gave me a chuckle.

In Phoenix, where I live now, there is a house with the same type of display, but this one also has window displays of vintage carousels and Christmas village buildings and characters.

Sometimes I wonder what motivates someone into putting so much time and effort and, let’s face it, money into such a temporary display. But I suspect it’s the inner child, which lurks inside many of us. It’s why some of us collect dolls, some love vintage or antique cars,  and some spend every weekend off-roading. What do I mean by inner child? The part of us that loves to play.

Do you think that keeping a sense of play is important to your adult life?

16_nIf you celebrate Christmas, I hope it’s a magical one.


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Photographs, Research and prep for writing, Sightseeing & Travel, Vintage American culture, Writing

28 responses to “Your Sense of Play

  1. I enjoyed this post. I call it the “foolishness gene,” which I inherited from my father’s family. For me, it’s the willingness to put large amounts of time into something others would not consider worth it, but it gives your heart great joy. Joy to you this season.

    • Luanne

      Ellen, that’s it! It is a gene, I think. I definitely got it from my father. We would rather “put large amounts of time into something others would not consider worth it” than watch TV. Joy to you, too, Ellen!!

  2. Luanne, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Wonderful Mid-Winter or joyful belated Yule to you and your family.

  3. Luanne

    Thank you so much, Paula. And to you and yours. May your beautiful art always keep you joyful.

  4. jeannieunbottled

    I wonder about Christmas displays every December. Some are lovely and some are an effort in that direction. (Then again, people’s taste varies.) My thought this year is that people who wish to have a beautiful yard in the snowless seasons want the same thing in the snowy months, hence Christmas decorations. It’s a yearning toward beauty.

    What if someone makes beautiful Christmas cookies or knits a lovely scarf — as gifts? Is this play? I don’t know. Maybe. But it is a kind of creativity that gives satisfaction to the maker and recipient.

    If someone creates a beautiful light display, is it a creative effort that is a gift to the neighborhood — for it’s not only the household where the lights exist that enjoys them. Similarly, a beautiful garden can be a visual gift and pleasure for the whole neighborhood.

    • Luanne

      WJ, you’ve given me the image of a light display as a type of garden. Is making cookies or scarves as gifts playing? It seems that for some people it’s not. I can think of a lot of other reasons a person would do so and not get the joy that one gets from playing. In some cases, there might be a more mature 😉 happiness at the thought of giving others pleasure with one’s creations. In fact, having to produce cookies and wrap them with a time deadline for a holiday could be the opposite of play.

  5. We have a few houses like this in our neighborhood too! One guy puts a HUGE screen on his roof, then sets up a camera to film the sidewalk so that anyone walking by sees themselves on it. Another family just goes full-on Vegas with all the lights in their yard. We are too lazy to even put a string of lights around the lawn, but I do appreciate all the work and festivity of others near us.

    • Luanne

      I am having a hard time getting past the image in my head of the screen on his roof. Hmm. Why do people want to see themselves? Hahahaha.

  6. I think keeping a sense of play in your adult life is CRUCIAL to good mental health as well as a healthy marriage. As a Family Law attorney I see way too many spouses who get so caught up in their ‘adult’ worlds they forget to nurture the childlike delight they experienced when they first connected with their spouse. If we can’t find spontaneous moments in the day to be playful (put a fun note for one’s mate in an unexpected place, tuck a favorite candy in a pair of their socks, wear that quirky hat that cracks them up) then we should schedule it. Really – put it on the calendar to send a knock-knock joke to your spouse in the mail or drive to a nearby park and swing together for 15 minutes. The more often one schedules playtime the more likely it is to become a (de-stressing) part of the routine. Of course I’m not advocating ignoring our adult obligations and responsibilities – I’m talking about balancing them out by nurturing (or cultivating) our delightful sense of play. May you have a happy, blessed, playful New Year, Luanne!

    • Luanne

      Shel, you’ve inspired me to add something like this to my daily to-do list. There’s got to be something silly I can do each day, even though my husband is not the playful type. He’s more the gotta-be-serious-because-life-is-serious type. But he’s got a good sense of humor, so I like to try to work with that . . . . Wishes for you to have just that sort of New Year, too, Shel!

  7. I hope your Christmas was happy. A sense of play as an adult is critically important. Sadly though, it’s something that many of us forget. Maybe I’ll set a goal around playtime for 2014.

  8. On the subject of Christmas lights, we can really have it all – the beautiful displays and a low impact energy wise. LED Christmas lights are readily available. We visit a place called Vandeusen Gardens in Vancouver, BC. Canada. There lighting displays are out of this world – all LED. It is truly wonderful when we can maintain a sense of adult playfulness and know we are doing the right thing for the environment, too.

    • Luanne

      Francis, thank you so much for bringing that up! It’s good to realize we can have it both ways with a little research, thought, and preparation.

  9. I am always happy to see that others around the country still (despite environmental reasons not to) decorate to celebrate Christmas! I was always happy when we went to Florida to see my grandparents and seeing the varied way they decorated down there! Thanks for the year of great communication and continued friendship, despite hurried schedules, and looking forward to even more time spent reading your posts in the new year.
    Happy New Year to you, Luanne, and yours! Hugs, Robin

    • Luanne

      Thanks, sweetie. You too! What a lovely year. I wish it wasn’t such a rushed time of year right now. It was not a good idea to put end of year for business, etc., right at Christmas and New Year’s! Here’s to another good year ahead of us, Robin!

      • I like the way you had ‘Sense of Play’ in your title. I also think ‘Sense of Wonder’ comes in, while we look at the awesome light displays and also, the natural wonders surrounding us! I have been thinking about your posts about sewing recently again. You catch my thoughts, Luanne, and hold them. I appreciate this quality in your writing! xo

  10. Love this post, thanks for the laugh and commiseration. After our annual drive through the streets to look at holiday lights a couple weeks ago, I sat down and wrote secret-admirer thank yous to several addresses, using up the remaining holiday cards (yes, I’m one of the three people in the world who still handwrite their holiday cards). It’s almost as fun as doing the light tour. 🙂
    Wishing you a full heart and much to celebrate in the new year – and a fountain of good writing & reading!
    Chris @

    • Luanne

      What a sweet idea–to write to the people who provided enjoyment to you! Thank you so much for your wishes, Chris!! The same to you!!!

  11. I love the idea of vintage carrousels! I enjoy looking at pictures of the ones who hand craft these wonders. I enjoyed the comments about trains, I love to see the villages and scenery that go with trains, too! Fun stuff!

    • Luanne

      Oh me, too. The trains are the best, maybe. Because they go and go and yet always return and all the beautiful buildings/villages that can be created along the tracks.

  12. agreed on the joy. Manhattan does really well with the lights on Christmas, I believe. not really overdone, but a clear sense of celebration. nice photo. thanks, best, Lynn

    • Luanne

      Lynn, thank you so much. Every year I wish I could spend the Christmas season in New York. Maybe it’s because of the old movies I grew up on ;). It must be just lovely.

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