As the Hanukkah lights have dwindled down and now the Christmas lights fills the nightscape, the magic of the holidays fills our hearts and I’m thinking of James Thurber’s pearl “There are two kinds of light – the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.”
No matter what holiday you celebrate, traditions are elemental to your holiday and collective family memory bank.
While I don’t celebrate Christmas, I am an advent observer. When I was younger, as the holiday nights came creeping in, we’d pile into my parent’s car and drive in search of the brightest, best and tackiest lights we could find.
We’d imagine that if we did celebrate Christmas how we’d decorate our house and which lights we’d like the best. My mom likes the single candles in the windows with white lights. My dad likes the blue lights. My sister, the wreaths. I favor more flashier, brighter purple lights with full on lawn display, a la Griswolds, and this year I’m digging the over sized ornament lights lining the path.
There was always one house that was the absolute sweetest, the Gingerbread House. While many place a Gingerbread house on their lawn, this is a real house. It literally is a house that the Gingerbread man would live and pop out of. It’s a tiny red house, with white framed doors and windows, that is usually decorated to the hills. (I also found the Easter Bunny’s house, but more on that come spring) The Gingerbread House usually is a neighborhood destination and cars from all around town would be lined up in front to catch a glimpse.
Last week, as we drove up the Gingerbread Block for the first time this holiday season, I was excitingly awaiting the lights and hyping it up to my kids. When we pulled up it was all dark, real dark, sans one lonely uncheerful sign which read “due to thieves continuing to steal our decorations, we can no longer put on our Christmas display.”
My heart sank. How can someone steal from the Gingerbread house! Damn those Grinches. My kids were like, "wow, that’s great mom."
To have to remember the Gingerbread House of Christmas pasts rather than see it live every year is a real kick in the gut event to start our holiday week. To steal from something so pure that doles out joy truly mars the spirit of the holidays.
Not seeing the display made me wonder about all the lumps of coal people feel they are getting this season but more of the items that have come to symbolize the holidays. Like all the window displays of the storefronts of Manhattan, and how we put on airs and displays up for the holidays and have evolved to place as much stuff as we can between us which has come to bury the spirit of the holidays or better, to lull you into a store and money out of your pocket.
Bringham Young has said the pearl “love the giver more than the gift”.
Every year as our family expands, so does my holiday shopping list, yet the stuff should not come before taking extra moment of precious time to make a call or hold a thought or space of love for those in my life. While receiving presents is (can be) a magical experience, stuff will never equate to love no matter how bright a child smiles at their gift.
To relish in the spirit of the holidays and share it with your family is pure love and ingrained in almost every holiday tradition.
Yet, I dream of hitting NYC this holiday season to crowd with perfect strangers and stare in awe at the magic of the BIG Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center (note to Grinches – BACK OFF!).
I hold the light of the holidays in my heart and so enjoy the time off with my children, sleeping in, praying for a white snowy Christmas, thinking of loved ones, peeking out the window to see if we can catch Santa on his sleigh, and heck, I’ll even bake some cookies for “Santa”.
Wishing you and your families lots of love and light this holiday season and always. Unwrap the love and let it shine!