They're just lights.
But of course, elaborate Christmas displays matter much more to both the visitors that flock to them each year and the residents who put them up.
"When I moved here, the most stressful thing for me about the move was, what was I going to do at Christmas time? Because I had no lights," said Greg Smith, who moved to Vancouver's famed Trinity Street 10 years ago.
It's arguably the most famous area for Christmas lights in Metro Vancouver, owing to a fundraiser that happened for 15 years this century. But does it have the best light display in the region?
To find out, we asked people for their suggestions, came up with a shortlist of five from dozens of nominations, and had a panel of three judges do intensive research to rank each one — by wandering the block and giving a score out of 10.
A couple of notes before we go over the rankings: we chose to score whole blocks instead of individual homes, because we wanted to celebrate community spirit.
We also fully recognize our ranking is neither exhaustive nor scientific.
That said, here are five of the best Christmas streets in Metro Vancouver.
#1: 55A Avenue, Ladner
The best Christmas block in Metro Vancouver began in fairly simple fashion, according to the woman who helped start it.
"My husband and I moved to this street, and I love to decorate, so I asked him to make us some wooden candy canes," said Rose Easthom, who moved to 55A Avenue in Ladner — known for more than 30 years during the holidays as 'Candy Cane Lane'.
"When he had some of them made, some of the neighbours saw them, and asked if he would make them some."
From there, a Christmas tradition grew, with the candy cane theme and full block involvement delighting our judging, earning it the top space.
"When somebody's sick or something, we help put their lights up," said Easthom.
"Sometimes people get a bit older and they can't get the ladder up, so we'll help then, sometimes a new renter comes in, and they don't have any lights, we'll give it to them."
#2: 84th Avenue and 209A Street, Langley
Bringing the neighbourhood together is one of the overarching themes of any good Christmas street.
"We call this our street family," said Tania Dobin, a resident of what locals call Santa Claus Lane, which has — among other decorations — a hand-painted sign, a wooden elves' workshop, and a projection of the Grinch stealing Christmas.
The block started as a hotspot for Halloween decorations, another common denominator among top Christmas streets. And the neighbourhood bonds only strengthened during the pandemic.
"We really were locked down in our houses," said Dobin.
"We would talk to each other on our driveways, and started to really meet one another. A lot of us had met one another, but we definitely know one another more."
#3: Trinity Street, Vancouver
The five blocks of Trinity Street that became famous for their fundraising lights display eventually became a victim of its own success.
"Traffic down the street increased to an unsustainable level," said Cate Jones, who helped start the friendly neighbourhood competition at the beginning of the century, at a virtual community event this year.
"We tried everything we could think of to get people out of their cars, to no avail … much of what we built was compromised by the traffic problems, including the amount of money we raised."
Though the fundraiser stopped in 2015 and some of the flashier elements of the displays went away, most houses on Trinity are still lit up — just not enough to be the best in the region.
#4: 62A Avenue, Surrey
It's possible other streets with bright displays may have learned from Trinity's success.
The stretch of 62A Avenue in the Sullivan neighbourhood is full of extravaganatly lit townhomes, beautiful white lights adorning trees on the sidewalk, and every property getting in on the fun with inflatable decorations in many front yards.
But when a reporter came by on a morning last week to ask residents about their designs, none wanted to speak.
We'll chalk it up to a busy school morning, and hope they appreciate our compliment regardless.
#5: Drummond Drive, Vancouver
When a couple of people nominated a block in West Point Grey to us, we were excited by the concept of comparing small suburban streets and their homes to some of the most expensive properties in the province.
The 1800 block of Drummond Street certainly looks impressive in December, with over 100 inflatable displays of every Christmas character you could imagine.
But it turns out the display is only because there's a single house for one side of the entire block, in part because of zoning regulations in the area. When we knocked on the door, we were informed that only the caretaker was home and the owners — who didn't respond to a request by CBC to talk about their Christmas decorations — were out of the country.
When we did a search, we found the owner of the $17.1 million property was a numbered company.
Which means perhaps it's for the best our judges didn't think it was the brightest block — even though it would have been the most Vancouver of stories.