Every Christmas I write about the lights -- my favorite part of the holidays. Yet as the season begins this year, I can't resist the subject again. Nothing strikes me more strongly after we set the clock back, as the darkness drops before I make my way home in the evening, than those lights. They shine on through the cold and through the gathering night, delivering a promise: You are not alone.
We put up our tree this past weekend. Not long after, we got a call from one of our neighbors -- an elderly woman who lives alone in a house a couple of doors down and across the street. She wanted to thank us for our light display. It's not much compared to others in our area -- the people in the big corner house who go all out for every holiday do about 100 times as much as we do. All we put up is a tree in the bay window and some lights on and around it. But she appreciates it, and lets us know with a call or a note each year.
I appreciate it, too. I feel a pang of sadness when we turn the lights off before bedtime, and I can't wait to see them on again in the morning. When I drive or walk home from school, which is after sunset these days, the lights greet me and lift my spirits. I'm home.
For the next month, the lights will be present anytime the sun is not. That's one reason this time of year touches me so deeply.