When I was a kid I remember hanging up Christmas lights and wondering “how many strands will work?” Do you still have the old traditional lights where if one bulb dies the whole strand goes out? I seem to recall them all tangled up in a mash of dust and bulbs from Christmas’ past and having to sort and test each strip before tacking them up on the house. But to me it was fun, and here’s why:
I remember it being my job (by choice, mind you) to go through the dark twisted strands, examining each bulb and seeing if I could find the one burnt out bulb, and thus bring the strand back to light! It was an arduous task don’t get me wrong. But, for a tween kid, just beginning to appreciate the mechanics of electrical systems, the beauty of Christmas traditions, and the ethics of patience and hard work, this task was perfect for me.
I can recall standing on the cold, brown-grass lawn as the icy fall air blew as we unboxed all the lights and yard decorations. There were strands of lights from perhaps two decades old we still put up alongside the newest ones. There I would stand, my strands slowly unfurling across the lawn as I toted the end of the brown extension cord from plug to plug, seeing which strand worked and which didn’t.
The ones that worked were celebrated with a Halleluiah Chorus, a-la- National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, and allocated right away. “You magnificent 100 colored bulbs will grace the front gutter! You splendid 50-bulb-strand will deck the hedge! Oh, you majestic, brilliant 100-white-bulb strand will wind around the tree!” As I got to the broken strands it was a game of chance “If this hearty 200-bulb-strand works, it will festoon the garage doors with merriment. If this 25-big-bulb one works, it will go around the windows!” Some worked, some didn’t, but the ones that worked
e time spent in swappin
g bulbs, looking for little singe marks and replacing fuses was a labor of love. For the lights were not just a decoration, they were the lights of the season. In some ways, Christmas lights are a decoration far superior to all other decoration not only because they are colorful, versatile, and festive, but they literally give light! In a season of darkness and cold our hearts can’t help but be drawn to warmth and light.
It is my hope that your decorations this year, however minimalist, or over the top they may be, include some lights. These I pray will remind your hearts that the light we really seek, and the light that truly warms our hearts, is not from a bulb or a flame. May the Light of Christ be your hope and joy this Christmas Season! And may you see it everywhere you turn!