Light. It’s the primary reason I will never move north of my current home in Missouri, USA. I don’t think I could bear shorter winter days than I endure now. This year, December has been especially gloomy, with many overcast days and little sun. I’d pick up my son from school at 4:05, car headlights already on.
The longer I live this northern hemisphere existence the more I appreciate the inclusion of some celebration of light in most winter holiday traditions. I know folks who have a bonfire to mark the solstice. Then there are yule logs, the seven candles of Kwanzaa, menorahs, and good old Christmas lights. One of the things I like best is that other illumination needs to be dimmed in order to fully experience any of these. The presence of a light in the dark, rather than a bright overhead fixture to make it seem like daytime, helps me feel welcoming toward night.
Last year we bought LED lights for our Christmas tree and it’s been transformative. Because they’re not running up the electric bill (much) and they don’t get hot, I leave them on all night. Most mornings I’m up before the sun, assuming we’re even going to see it that day. This is dictated by schedule and not by choice. I’m a person who needs to ease into full wakefulness. The multi-colored fairy glow that greets me when I come down the stairs helps me transition less grumpily than I otherwise would. So far this season, we’ve avoided our traditional middle-of-the-night crashing of the greenery that usually comes with Christmas trees and cats. I have to wonder if keeping the lights on is keeping the felines at bay. Any excuse, really.
I had a “be still my heart” moment the other night when my two teens actually liked my suggestion to pile in the van and drive around town looking at Christmas lights. This was our ultimate destination:
But we took a lot of side streets to get there, turning down any block that looked well-decorated. I’m grateful to my fellow residents for their efforts. In the middle of the busyness of shopping and wrapping and holiday logistics, our little outing was the equivalent of a deep, relaxing breath.
The holiday lights will be coming down in another week or so, but it’s okay. The days are getting longer again. Until then, whatever holidays you celebrate or don’t, I send out thoughts of light and love to you. Yes, I mean you.