Best Christmas House 2018 | Chris Birkett's Winter Wonderland | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

As you're reading this, Chris Birkett is busy prepping for the holidays. After all, it's only a couple of months until the most wonderful time of the year, and the 43-year-old wedding DJ wants to be prepared. But instead of buying gifts for his wife, Sarah, or their two daughters, Birkett's probably picking out lights and decorations for Winter Wonderland, the gigantic holiday display adorning his Scottsdale home every Christmas season. Each December, the Birkett family transform the place into a glowing and glittering tableaux with 250,000 lights, an enormous Disney-esque holiday castle, a choreographed light show, and even jets of faux snow. There's also a quaint Western town along the side of the house and a Frozen-themed display decorating the backyard pool. Powering the display, along with electricity, is a sense of whimsy and wonder, perfectly illustrated by lights in the front that read, "Believe in Magic." It's one of the best displays in the Valley, and no less a source than The Great Christmas Light Fight has said so, as the Birketts won an episode of the ABC television show last year. Don't stop believing in magic, Chris, you're an inspiration to would-be Clark Griswolds everywhere.

For many years now, artist and preservation advocate Beatrice Moore has put out the call for artists and other community members to submit their own creative takes on piñatas for the annual art show that features dozens of intriguing variations on this particular sculptural form. Often, they reflect a contemporary collective psyche, featuring everything from Donald Trump in diaper mode to a camera used for Instagram captures. The show moved from Bragg's Pie Factory to Weird Garden during this year's Art Detour in March without sacrificing any of its charms. It's still a beautifully quirky tribute to the ways communities are perpetual works in progress, created by the collective spirit that arises from delightfully diverse individuals doing their own thing, together.

There was never any love lost between Phoenix New Times and the Arizona senator, but we have to admire the final words John McCain left to be read after his death from brain cancer on August 25. An excerpt: "I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world's greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. ... We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been. ... Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still. Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history." Rest in peace, sir.

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