When I was young we had these huge color lights on our tree. I mean they were big and awkward and would burn the heck out of your hand if you touched them. My family didn’t have a lot of money, so we reused strings of lights until the plastic came off the cord and my dad experienced tiny little electrical shocks during the stringing process.
Once our honkin’ lights were up, we would add candy canes, big fake suckers, and the star with angel hair (which we later discovered was fiberglass). I found that to be the most magical of stars, because there was a little angel leaning against angel hair. If she’d been eating angel hair pasta it would have been the trifecta.
As a child, I thought that the decorated tree, and our stockings with old candy from last year stuck in the toe, and the gifts all wrapped in shiny paper were the things that lit up our holiday.
But in retrospect I realize that the tree ornaments eventually disappeared, the stockings were trashed as they finally collected enough candy to qualify as gross, and I don’t even remember the gifts . . . except for the blue reel-to-reel tape recorder I got in fourth grade.
Wow, did I love that little machine.
Next to the woodburning set a woman brought to me when I was sick, it was the best. Unfortunately, the woodburning set disappeared the day I used it on mom’s end table.
But I digress . . .
What I do remember about Christmas is how much happier people seemed to be. Christmas carolers would stop by our house and sing their hearts out as we stared awkwardly at them (where do you look when carolers sing?).
Normally grouchy neighbors would take the time to put lights on their house and wave hello. Children would jump around like tiny spazzes, thrilled that the adults were finally awake and joyous.
I remember the people of Christmas, and the light that seemed to illuminate them for a brief period each year.
I realize that the holidays can also be extremely difficult when juxtaposed to illness and loss. Yesterday I was driving home listening to Christmas music and I began to cry. My kids were out-of-town, and my husband was at work, and I got home and cried as I turned on each candle positioned in the windows of our home.
But as I looked at the last candle, I realized that there is a pilot light within us that is always available. And, sometimes, we need to cry so we can connect to that warmth. I don’t highly recommend it, however, because my eyes were puffy for the rest of the day.
The light is always there . . .
I guess, this year, I’d like to try and acknowledge my inner light throughout the year. I want to hold onto that internal light no matter what happens. I want to keep it lit even when:
Maybe I will keep the candles in the windows this year, just to remind myself that I can feel the joy of Christmas any time I am willing to let go of ego and acknowledge it.
Because it’s always there, even when blurred by tears.