Over the years, I stopped decorating the perimeter of our house with Christmas lights. The children grew, we downsized the home, and it became too much of an effort to string lights around the house to reflect the season. It was much easier to view and appreciate the random neighborhood homes dotted with lights.
This year, something changed. An acquaintance posted photos of her home beautifully decorated with ornaments and lights that shone brilliantly revealing a cheerful “feel” of Christmas. That same evening, I took a long walk and then a drive through different locales. Almost instantly, enchantment won my heart as I witnessed the magical transformation of light in neighborhoods and city. Here, there and everywhere, Christmas lights shone and twinkled on rooftops, around windows and doors, on lawns and on shrubs and in trees. There were strings of colorful lights, some blue, some just white lining the perimeter of homes. Shimmering mismatched splashes of light draped over fences and shrubs. Oh, what a sight of color that dazzled and illuminated the once dark streets; a show of solidarity during these tough and isolating times; a sign of unstoppable hope emerging from the dark night.
As I admired the lights I thought about all those whom we have lost this year during the course of the pandemic. In this country alone, nearly three hundred thousand dead, lives destroyed, and homes upended. People have lost friends and family members, loneliness has increased, and, for some, severe financial stresses make this time of year even tougher. We’ve missed the closeness of friends, loved ones around tables, shoulder to shoulder drinks at a bar, firm handshakes and tight hugs. We’ve lost our cheerful appearance and the fizz that went with our fashionable veneer at luncheons and banquets. Before Covid, our world centered around spending time among large gatherings of family, worship and song, travel, sporting events and the adventures that we would experience together. We miss sitting close to someone, photos with Santa, snuggling grandchildren, and passing on the traditions of amity and the kiss of peace! Yes, all of these things have changed drastically in 2020.
We want life to be what we know as normal. But until the vaccine becomes available across the board, and until peoples’ trust returns to a place where we can look at each other in a more inclusive way with less judgment and anger; until we can eliminate the division between “us” and “them;” until we can heal from the hurt and regain faith in humanity and be prepared for a unified perspective of the world, the festive jeweled lights unleash the enduring hope for the future. In the midst of the pandemic, assurance of hope is showing up in the most ordinary and imaginary of ways — in Christmas lights. Whether they are flung across a shrub, lining a window or in a dazzling display that emblazon an entire yard, Christmas lights are saying, “Covid 19, you will not have the last word.”
That night, I came home like a child who had just seen Christmas lights for the first time. Their radiance flooded my soul with their twinkling reminder that we are not what we have lost and we are not what has been taken from us. We are what we have here in the present, grounded in hope. The Christmas lights are simply reflectors of that hope, that same hope evidenced in the star of Bethlehem, the Christmas Star signaling victory of light over darkness in the birth of the savior shining for all mankind.
To shed further light onto the world, this year mankind will witness a unique phenomenon which was last visible some 800 years ago. A “Christmas Star” visible from wherever you are on this Earth (weather permitting) will appear on December 21, the night of the winter solstice. Two planets, Saturn and Jupiter will align and look like a “double planet” to produce a significant amount of light. If the world ever needed this ‘great conjunction’ of light and hope, it is now, during the final month of 2020. Look for the light. Celebrate with light. Witness the tangible brilliant reminder of the original Christmas Star, and radiate from your heart the light shining for all mankind.