I don’t much like putting up Christmas lights. There are some valid excuses for this. There is of course, the electricity bill. But once you have a bunch of kids leaving lights on, you’re in for a penny in for a pound anyway. It’s the same every year. I have the usual dodges to try to put it off. But my wife likes the outside lights and that is the problem. There will always be one rather warm weekend somewhere about a month before Christmas and sooner or later, I will find myself up a ladder. I have solid reasons to be wary of ladders. I have fallen off a ladder and found it not to my liking. What is it about lights anyway?
There are all those garish desplays people put up. The blow up sparkly kind of Santas and reindeer out for the world to see, the lights that are so many and so high they must have been professionally done, and then there is the sheer lunacy of that kind who make the whole thing into a contest. They have “THE” Christmas light display, the one that gets featured in local newspapers. They sugar-coat their bad taste with the invitation to give to their favourite Christmas charity when you come by to take a look.
Lights have not diminished this year, no not at all. In fact, they are the going game in town. When people can’t do other stuff, when gathering is verboten, lights are still the thing. This year with the fear of spreading COVID, most municipalities have defaulted to some kind of drive-through display. You are supposed to be socially distant and yet still feel good about the whole thing. What is it about lights anyway?
Finally, I have no more excuses. It’s trying. I have to find the extension cords. I have to find the circuit interruptor in case water gets into the connection. There is figuring out the timer… again. There is finding the bag of clips which has managed to hide itself at the bottom of an unidentified box yet again. Finally I have my stuff together and I steady the ladder. I am still grumbling. Some of the clips break and my fingers are getting numb. I have to stuff a few in my pockets so that I don’t have to climb up and down so many times. Who even feels like Christmas this year anyway? Why can’t we just put lights INSIDE the windows and forego this whole business?
It came without warning. After a while I started to hum in spite of myself. Then I started to sing. The song on my lips was on old Christmas carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing… It came and went interspersed with the trips up and down the ladder and the thoughts racing through my brain.
I heard we won’t get a vaccine until maybe the fall now…
Hail the Heaven Born Prince of Peace, Hail the Son of Righteousness…
Dropped another clip. My fingers are cold.
Late in time behold him come offspring of the Virgin’s womb…
I heard the most googled subject this year, has been online wills. People are worried.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate diety…
How can it be Christmas when we have to spend it mostly alone?
Born that Man with Man will dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel, Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King….
My eyes are stinging but it is not from the cold. I get down off the ladder and inspect my progress. I switch on the lights, scared for a moment that I am going to have one bad string that I will have to take down and replace.
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled…
What’s going to happen to my work this year? What’s going to happen period?
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all…
I don’t know why I am feeling like this. I should be more grumbly.
The light shone in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not…
But what about…?
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…..
I shouldn’t be enjoying this.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts...
I realize in spite of everything that it is the first Sunday of Advent. People out there all over the world are lighting candles and thinking the same thing. Something in my heart is glowing. This wasn’t supposed to happen. What is it about lights anyway?