This morning on my way to work I made a very pleasant discovery. A dear friend who lives off the highway has erected a huge lighted cross in his yard. It’s beautiful, inspiring, reassuring, and just plain wonderful! I can’t wait to see it tomorrow. I love lights! I’m usually too timid (afraid of heights and electricity) to put any on our house, but I love to see them. We drove around town Saturday night and just looked at lights. Some are funny, like the moving reindeer, and some are traditional, like the lighted nativity scene.
My husband and I grew up in a city in California that had a prosperous neighborhood famous for its Christmas lights. There were huge old evergreens on each side of the street and they were lit from top to bottom with streams and streams of lights. Driving down “Christmas Tree Lane” was a tradition. We’d pack everyone into the car and “ooh and ahh” through two miles of lights and displays. There were carolers and sometimes a live nativity scene. It was the highlight of the holiday.
Each year I watch the news for reports about those houses with a million lights. Did you see the one this year that was such a traffic hazard that it had to be shut off? Or the controversial “pink” yard display for someone’s idol? Some yards have lights and music. Some have themes. Others are a hodgepodge of everything from Santa and reindeer to camels and shepherds. Most are just meant to be enjoyed!
Remember when Christmas lights were dependent on each other? I’m sure that’s not an electrical term, but you knew what I meant didn’t you! My dad would spend thirty minutes figuring out which bulb needed to be replaced so the rest of the string would light up! Then of course there was the task of untangling the wires so they could be strung on the tree again. When our children were little we had to have lights on the tree. By then you could take out half the lights and the rest would still glitter and twinkle. Ah, progress. Now I pass on the lights entirely because I’m afraid my silly cats will get into them. I have enough trouble keeping them away from the ornaments!
One year we had one of those aluminum trees with the rainbow light wheel behind it. I can’t remember what that was called either! (Someone will have to jog my memory- it was the sixties!) I just remember everyone had to have one. Then just as quickly everyone was tired of them. These days you can buy lights in the shape of nearly anything from chili peppers to tractors. They’re fun for a while. But I like green trees and traditional twinkling lights. I want a tree to look like it did when I still had dreams about Christmas. I want a tree to look like it used to look at 3am when I breathlessly awoke my parents so I could get started on my presents. I want a tree to look like the one in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Christmas lights bring out the kid in us, but they also remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. When I see Christmas lights I think of that star long ago, guiding the wise men to baby Jesus. Perhaps that’s why lights seem so reassuring. We know they guide us. They light up the darkness and illuminate the beauty of the most ordinary things. Jesus is our light. He guides us. He illuminates the beauty of our ordinary lives. What could be more reassuring in these troubled times? So I’ll look for the beautiful cross in the morning. I hope there is a guiding light in your life. Merry Christmas!