Last night I drove down my street towards my home at the end of it, and I noticed tree lights in a window. Happy yellow-white glowing twinkle lights. My spirit responded with a standing ovation, claps and cheers included.
Then I broke out of my mental auto-pilot and realized they were my happy lights.
I write this to you in case you happen to wander past and see the twinkle lights shining through the front window of my house. I write this so you don’t wonder as my neighbors and even some of the folks who abide with me do–just why is the Christmas tree still up?
I wasn’t raised this way for sure. The same Mama who didn’t do laundry on New Year’s Day or let us wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day made sure our tree and Christmas decorations were down by New Year’s Eve. I think there was some line of thinking that carrying them into the New Year was bad luck. Also, our trees from my Granny’s woods were usually shedding and in dire need to go to the high grass at the back of our property to live out their next life as a bunny habitat. (I refuse to entertain the idea that snakes found joy in our old trees. Because SNAKES. No ma’am.)
Then I married into a tradition of keeping the tree up until Epiphany, January 6th. I liked this and had no problem embracing it after the first year or two of feeling slightly uncomfortable and apologetic. The only problem was that January 6th only fell on the weekend a couple of years out of six or seven, so it was rarely the 6th when we actually took it down. I remember attending a “Tearing Down Christmas” party once, and I thought it was brilliant. It was after Christmas when folks were more relaxed, but she still had her home beautifully decorated. It was the last hoorah before she put everything away. I have yet to host such a celebration, but it’s still something I really hope to do one year.
This year things have been different. There’s been a different feel in the air since October. I was looking at a milestone birthday in November, so maybe that’s why I missed Mama and Daddy so much–things were just different. The month of November and first half of December flew by–with all my people taking turns having the cold crud that went through everyone we knew, with celebrations, having Thanksgiving at home (due to aforementioned crud), and three shows in a sixteen day period. All wonderful things, but time passed quickly. We always go tree hunting as a family. With our oldest in law school and folks sick on Thanksgiving weekend, it was the 16th of December before we could actually make the hunting happen.
During this time I struggled with the idea of finally getting an artificial tree. The only other time we haven’t had a real one was when we were living in Japan for those two Christmases. I have wonderful memories of the tree hunts of my childhood. Like other things I loved that I’ve not been able to share with my children, it was hard to let this go. Still, I felt like it was time. With an artificial tree, we could put it up whenever we wanted–never mind if someone was sick or not. And it could be decorated at leisure when my law student could come home.
Because as lovely as the ornaments are and as much as I love the stories behind each and every one (and if you have a month or two, I’ll tell you each one), it’s the lights, y’all. It’s the lights that lift my spirits and give the room a glow like no bit of sunlight can.
Those lights create magic.
Lovely twinkling magic.
So I could tell you that it’s still up because my tree only went up on the 17th. Or I could tell you that it’s because it’s artificial and I don’t have to worry about needles falling or fire hazards. Or I could tell you that we just haven’t had the time, what with having wonderful family from out of state here with us after Christmas.
And while those things might be true to some degree–those are not the reasons why.
During these darkest days of the year, that tree with its little non-LED lights has given me hope. It has been the light that draws my soul towards it and that hope like a moth to the moon. The magic that I saw so brilliantly in the wee hours of Christmas morning before I retired for a few hours’ slumber remains. It whispers to me–“All will be well, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
There is promise. The sun, the warmth, the days will lengthen. The light will return.
But until then, I find joy and peace in the twinkling lights that someone in a warehouse somewhere painstakingly attached to my faux tree. Bless them and bless that peace that surrounds me every time my eyes land on that luminous evergreen.
And bless all of you. I hope that when you find something that brings you joy and peace and puts magic into your world, making your heart sing, that you will hang on to it too. Some years are like that. Some years we just need to keep those trees up.
And that’s okay.
Love and twinkly lights to all.