Tonight, one of my most favorite holiday traditions will begin quietly glowing in the cold evening air: luminaires.
I’m not a religious guy, so the significance of these paths of light being “runway lights for Baby Jesus” is lost on me. Still, there is something uniquely moving about such a simple display of faith.
It got me to thinking that, really, so much of this season, in reality and metaphorically, is about light, the simple colored bulbs we dress our houses with, or the elaborate displays from the Osbourne Family, or a tealight in a white paper lunchbag.
Is it because we find ourselves (up here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway; hi, Australian readers!) in the lengthiest, the darkest nights of the year, that we’re drawn to this tradition of light? What innate human need is satisfied by a few twinkling lights? Why do we still find such peace in something so relatively primitive?
I love this time of year because, when you strip away all the Furbies, the gift cards, the calorie-explosion holiday lattes and the umpteenth Christmas movie on ABC Family, what’s left is a common, universal thread of decency. There’s a shared sense of hope in the goodness of man (collective, sex-neutral pronoun). Maybe it’s naive, but it’s there.
So those little lights are important to me. They’re represent one of the most basic elements of human experience: light in the darkness, hope on the horizon, for all of us.