The Dyker Lights, a psychedelic display of Christmas cheer in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood, inspires some hardcore holiday spirit—while illuminating everything that’s difficult about raising kids in the city. Meanwhile, in the suburbs, the viewing of Christmas lights is so kind and gentle that it may literally put your kids to sleep (which isn’t a bad thing). Let’s weigh the positives and negatives here:
NYC’s Holiday Light Extravaganza
Photo: Time Out NYC
Unless you happen to live in Bay Ridge or another surrounding neighborhood, Dyker Heights isn’t the most easily accessible place. The Christmassy corner of the neighborhood is wildly crowded on the weekends, but during the week, you can expect to battle rush-hour traffic by car or make multiple transfers to and from packed subway cars. This is doable for adults. But throw in a few bundled-up kids, including a toddler who is crying due to a lost mitten/dropped cheddar bunny, and you’re suddenly staging your own version of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The reward is a sensory overload of twinkling lights and animatronic Santas in the bitter cold. It is pretty spectacular, even if you’re already bracing yourself for the endless commute home.
Is it worth the trip? Well, there are plenty of city families who visit every year. They’re armed with the New York parent philosophy that nothing worthwhile is supposed to be easy.
Holiday Lights in the Suburbs
The game plan is simple: Suit up your children in their favorite fleecy holiday pajamas, walk to the car (which is in your driveway; not parked on the street a few blocks away), and settle the little ones into their booster seats with some cozy blankets. Put the holiday station on the radio, and drive around your neighborhood at a leisurely place, slowing down to count candles in windows and marvel at the most lit-up lawns and sparkly displays. Maybe the kids fall asleep on the way home, so you carry them up to bed and then sit beside your own big, beautiful tree, which fits surprisingly well in your suburban living room.
Now, maybe you’re missing the Dyker Lights enough to plan a family trip into Brooklyn, but as you pour a second glass of wine, it’s pretty hard to argue with the simple pleasures of a suburban holiday season.
The holidays are here. Should you stay or should you go?