As a young girl, I was captivated by Christmas lights. Come November 1st, my neighborhood had an obsessive compulsion with burying any sign of Halloween and putting up as many Christmas lights as possible before three feet of snow took over our entire lives. While my parents often referred to the lights as “obnoxious,” I was filled with excitement as my neighborhood cloaked itself in a soft Christmas glow. I remember squinting my eyes until the lights blurred together. Those blurry lights filled my heart with joy and wonder as I was overcome with the beauty of the lights in the darkness.
This magic belonged to my neighbors all throughout November, but never to me until Thanksgiving was long over. Once mid-December rolled around, my parents would finally find it within themselves to dust off our red and green storage bins and start setting up our own decorations. As we dug through our basement for these precious containers, I’d feel my heart beat with excitement as the winter wonderland was finally brought into my own home.
My father was a perfectionist when it came to decorating our home. While his perfectionism verged on annoying, I was always impressed by his intentionality. I’d study his methods as he wrapped lights around our Christmas tree. He was so calculated with spacing and color choices. My family mocked his desire for perfection but all of those laughs would turn silent as he plugged in the lights and put his work on display. The glistening of these simple lights left me breathless. My eyes would be overcome with the bright joy that now decked my home, and I’d stare in awe at his work as the whole world seemed to melt away.
What a joy it was to capture the magic of Christmas in a single moment of time. As I’d stare at these lights the spirituality of winter would all of a sudden make sense to my young soul. Every magical moment I saw at the end of a Christmas movie, every carol and storybook was captured by these tiny glowing bulbs. While everyone around me would move on from this moment within seconds, it would remain in my mind throughout the whole winter season.
This sense of wonder never left me. Years passed, Christmases came and went, but the lights were still the most magical thing I knew. As I grew from girl to woman, those cheap white lights continued to enlighten my heart. It is this very enlightenment that still today brings me the space of peace as winter draws near. This same space of spirituality is where our hearts are intended to move to in these cold months.
As I pulled out my own lights this year, I returned to this space. I became warm, filled with hope as I breathed in the season. I thought back to my parents decorating for Christmas when I was growing up. It was funny — a task that would notoriously drive my family insane instead brought me a sense of renewed joy. I wrapped the dusty lights around our home banister and marveled at the purpose of these simple decorations.
All too often, Christmas decorations can be used as cheap contributions towards a commercialized day on the calendar. To many, they lack any profound meaning and are simply “a thing that we do” come the day after Thanksgiving. But for those who search for more, these simple decorations are greatly significant to the season.
In these cold winter months, the days become shorter, the nights become longer, and we become a people waiting in darkness, searching for the great light of rebirth within the season. We pull out our Christmas trees, hang our stockings by the chimney with care, and partake in all our own holiday traditions in the name of preparation. Like an expectant mother, we lay the groundwork for the coming of life — a new life filled with hope, peace, joy, and love.
For myself, the lights do this better than anything else. They pull my heart towards the soft peace that covers us with the winter snow. They remind me not only to pause within the spirituality of the season but to ponder the majesty of it all. In these dark months, as we clothe our homes in candles, white lights, and technicolor, we create a small light within the darkness of our world. Just as the lights ushered me into a space of wonder and awe as a child, I am drawn back into that magical moment as an adult.
How often do we pause within the winter months to ponder the light, the darkness, or the majesty of the season? How often do we open our hearts to the sacred nature of these months, contemplating the magic that awaits us in the Christmas season? My friends, the winter season is a time in which we await the rebirth of the year. We open our hearts by preparing our homes to welcome both ourselves and those around us into an intimate space of warmth and love. We bathe our homes, our streets, and our neighborhoods in lights that create a magical space of spiritual growth.
I invite you this season to open your hearts to this magic. Look at decorations as more than a chore, a nuisance, or a shallow display of commerciality. Push your heart into the hope and peace that await you in the darkness, and the joy that accompanies you into the light. Enter into the spirituality of winter.
May your winter months be filled with magic and light, and may your hearts embrace new life within the new year.