I took a drive last night. Not far, with no specific destination in mind. I just wanted to see some Christmas lights. I brought my son with me. He is no longer the toddler to be strapped into his car seat with a sippy cup to go see pretty lights. He is 20, and home on break. I’m not sure if he came with me out of a sense of duty or just sheer boredom, but it did my mom-heart good that he joined me.
We weren’t gone long, maybe 30 – 45 minutes. We roamed around parts of our town and the neighboring town, sharing thoughts on the various displays and creativity. We purposefully ended the loop by a pause at the houses we call the Grisowld’s. These folks go all out. It started years ago as two neighboring houses with lots of lights, and each year has grown and expanded. One house transmits music and synchronizes the light display to the holiday tunes. Other houses across the street have jumped in on the festivities, and cars pull over to gawk (like we did) every night. There are several beautiful, professional lighting displays in our area. But last night I just had a hankerin’ for neighborhood spirit.
I’m guessing that a lot of you RW’s out there had the same conflicted thought process early in the season as I did. No parties, no visitors, no extended family this year… just the three of us in the house, and maybe a couple close friends who have been in our “bubble” throughout the year might stop in. Did it really make sense to go all out with decorating? Should we just put up a tree and call it done?
Right after Thanksgiving, I made the decision to go ahead and get decked out, and told my guys that I especially wanted color outside. Why? Because if there was ever a year when we needed some twinkle, it is this year. One night as I drove home from work admiring the lights surrounding other’s homes, I thought about how there are so many people out there this year who could just use a little brightness and spirit as they drive by. That 10-second impression could be just the mood-booster bump someone needs. We by no means will ever reach the level of the Griswold’s of the world, but we did add some cute extra lit trees in our front yard.
For a few nights over the past couple of weeks, I have been the last to head up to bed. (Well, my son is up to all hours, but ensconced in his own room). I have turned the TV off and just sat and looked at the lights on our tree, and around the house. I’ve roamed quietly looking at our decorations, just breathing in the peace, quiet and serenity. And I’ve said prayers for all of the people who can’t do that right now. Those who are in hospitals or nursing homes, those who are away from home in the armed forces, those who are homeless and cold, or those who have essential jobs and are hard at work while the rest of us are nestled in at home. My dearest hope is that at some point, be it tomorrow, or on Christmas, or even a month from now, each of those people can have a moment of quiet and peace by twinkling lights.
The beauty of twinkling is that it doesn’t have to be big and bold and fancy. The four simple candles in an Advent wreath symbolize hope, love, joy and peace. And sometimes just lighting one candle and being mesmerized by the flicker of that flame is enough to calm the soul.
As you’ve probably heard, there is a “Great Conjunction” expected tonight. Jupiter and Saturn are going to appear closer together than they have in centuries, and the result is what some are calling a Christmas Star. There are some theories that it was a similar Conjunction that formed the Star of Bethlehem that led the three Wise Men to Jesus. There have been many fascinating theories and scientific studies as to what really made the Star of Bethlehem happen on that special night so long ago. Or of course, it was only due to Divine Intention. We can all decide for ourselves, but it is pretty awesome to be able to see something remarkable and potentially once-in-a-lifetime in the sky now.
Unfortunately it is due to be cloudy in my area, but I will be out there, after sunset, looking to the southwest, hoping to see what I like to think of as a Christmas Star. I hope many of you will join me, in your own backyards, so we can all feel connected for a moment. No matter what you choose to believe, we could all use a truly heavenly twinkle as a sign of good tidings, peace, love and hope.