This year I’ve noticed fewer external Christmas lights on houses and gardens in County Fermanagh than in previous years. I don’t know whether people are trying to be more frugal and keep the cost of their energy bills down or whether there’s another explanation for it. For a few years there was an increasing number of houses decorated with external lights and I welcomed the trend because it was cheery and reminded me of my childhood Christmases.
I’ve always loved to walk past houses lit up for the holiday season. Where I grew up in Toronto nearly every house on our street was ablaze with holiday decorations. My family had wreaths, with candles set in them, hanging in our two front windows; their flames glowed red and welcoming as I returned home each evening. Some houses had multi-coloured flashing extravaganzas, others glittering white lights like brilliant snowflakes and still others, my favourites, tranquil blue ones that had the power to mesmerise me. I loved the sense of peace they radiated. When I gazed at them I would forget that I lived in a bustling city. Especially after a fresh fall of snow, they made me feel as if I was alone in a dormant, untouched landscape.
I don’t know why I’m thinking about Christmas lights as I write this post. Maybe the idea lodged in my mind because Writers Abroad, an online writers’ group I belong to, is considering Light as the theme for their next anthology. Or maybe it is just that I miss being surrounded by neighbours who dazzle the world with their luminary displays.
Whatever the reason, this Christmas I’ve been thinking about light. It features in many religious festivals around the world and has many meanings, including a symbol of the divine, of rebirth and of hope.
Last Sunday was the shortest day of the year and at this, the darkest time of the year, I’m I’m not the only person who thinks we need something to dispel the gloom. Light provides warmth and cheer and I like the fact that it symbolises rebirth and hope. As this year ends and a new one approaches, whether the past year has been a good one or not, there’s the expectation of something better to come. Light’s ability to pierce the darkness is an encouraging reminder of this.
On these dark evenings, as I walk around our farmyard with a torch to keep me from falling into the water trough or over the tractor, I look up at the stars and am awed by their delicate twinkling. And when I step into the house I smile when I see red, green and blue sparkling and fading in sequence on our Christmas tree and the glow of blue lights nestled on the mantelpiece. All of this makes me warm and happy. I’m enjoying the season and looking forward to the New Year.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers a holiday season filled with light and love and anticipation of a bright New Year.