8.5” x 8.5”, mixed media/card stock
It’s been a long while since I fully embraced the Christian Christmas myth. But I’ve always loved some aspects of the holiday. The informal gatherings with family and friends; the spirit of giving (obese consumerism, not so much); seeing “It’s A Wonderful Life” will always move me; and experiencing Christmas lights (I’m less attracted to the blow-up plastic cartoon characters) makes me smile.
After the last year it seemed like many of us were eager to put on a display or (like me) just especially enjoyed seeing them sprinkled about the neighborhood. Coming to terms with accepting COVID-life, having endured four years of a crass, mean-spirited and crude POTUS, feeling a bit depressed by the isolation, I think maybe a lot of us were simply starving for sharing in some happiness!
I’ve always been a walker, and since Covid have had more company. I took several evening walks in December where we specifically went through residential blocks to see the lights. Interestingly, a few times with each of two very interesting friends of mine who have very different views of Christmas. One is a scientist, avowed atheist, and “modified anarchist” (his words) who revels in provoking the system toward what he feels would improve our lives. The other hails from Irish & Italian parents (hard to get more Catholic and tradition-filled upbringing than that—although as the grandson of four Polish immigrants, I’m close). Now into his 60’s he’s still very connected to his many siblings and immersed within his family’s classic rituals.
Both are great, trustworthy friends, and both LOVE the lights of these holidays. Neither are church-going, and each for their own reasons have expressed they have no love for fundamentalist viewpoints. However, as all my friends learn soon enough, I like to mention aloud (hopefully in a gentle, humorous way) when I notice what seem to me contradictions in life or people (and also hopefully, acknowledge them in myself as well). The atheist made clear that many of the “traditions” and symbols we associate with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights) have very little to do with Jesus or the Bible and derive from what many Christians would call “pagan” rituals. The other friend is less apt to defend his views with verbal or historical argument, but equally as profound. He simply reveals and revels in a sincere, child-like enthusiasm and exuberance that makes him radiate when he comes upon displays of these lights. “How could anyone not like Christmas Lights?!” I recall him saying. Indeed!?
Yes, as an environmentally conscientious person, I can come up with dozens of reasons NOT to have displays of lights. But, as my two friends’ love of them encourages, and I already was leaning toward, there are other things that are far more heinous and oppressive to dislike or rant about. These innocent little twinkling bulbs momentarily transport us toward our youth and the important and healthy delight within just savoring the moment. Sometimes we all need a means of recharging, if only to find the energy to tackle REAL life issues. Why refuse something that rekindles a bit of joy?