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  • I was asked to share at a service this evening about what activities I partake in over the holidays, and how it reflects my values. This is what I plan to share.
    For me, this time of year is all about light. Just as we are entering the darkest days of the year in the western hemisphere, and the cold of winter is settling in, most of the leaves are gone from the bare trees - it is time for the lights. Usually, I get all of the remaining leaves raked up by Thanksgiving weekend, so the following weekend – this weekend, today - I can start putting up our lights. It will take me two full weekends to get them all up.

    I often start the process unenthusiastically –I’d really rather stay inside where it’s warm. There’s a lot of things to figure out, a lot of decisions to make, a lot of trips up and down the ladder to the attic. But, I know that once I start moving, the spirit of the season kicks in, and I just get swept up in it. There’s a joy that just kind of overtakes me at some point in the process. I don’t look for it – in fact, more often than not, I am “Bah-humbugging” about the whole deal, right up until that feeling overtakes my bah-humbug-ness, and then I’m just having fun. The creative juices start flowing, and anything might happen with those lights, at that point. They are never the same from one year to the next.

    As I’m out there on the front lawn, sorting out the wires and the lights and the penguins and the see-saw Santas and Frosties, and the 8 foot blow-up Frosty, and the 18 foot blow-up frosty, and Snoopy and Charlie Brown, and the train, and the Rope lights – “What will it be this year – Peace on Earth, just Peace, Noel?” , inevitably a car slows down, a window rolls down, and someone says, “Thank you for doing this!” We get a lot of those.

    It’s all about the light. This darkest time of the year, a time when the spirit can really experience some internal darkness as well, we need something to brighten things up. There have been periods in my own life when I experienced tremendous darkness of the spirit, and this was the hardest time of year when I went through that. Anything to lighten things up is good, I think.

    I love thinking about different festivals of light from other cultures and other parts of the world. This year, I have gotten connected with writers from all over the world through a storytellers blog I’ve joined. I learned of a festival I had been unaware of before through one of my new storyteller virtual friends – Diwali, a Hindu festival of light that occurs this time of year. After Dusshera, when Shakti prevailed over the Demons and then Diwali came tip toeing, as the Goddess of Fortune, offering her blessings for peace and prosperity, and new beginnings for Family, Friends and Fun times together.
  • This year, as I put up our lights, in addition to feeling good about raising spirits in our own neighborhood, I will feel more connected to people and cultures from all over the world, who are doing the same thing, each in their own, unique way.

    When we lived in the Philadelphia area, there was a popular Christmas song there, called “Christmas on the Block” (written by Alan Mann for the Alan Mann Band, also recorded by The Hooters). It was about a family that really got what the season is all about.

    There's a streetlight that sits above the night
    and it shines it's grey light on the midnight air
    and the houses twinkle on the block
    but there's one house that shines a special way out there

    It's Christmas in the city
    and the trees are lighted pretty
    but the prettiest Christmas tree of all,
    They can see all the colors that we cannot
    and theirs is the most beautiful Christmas on the Block

    Though they cannot see the light of day
    and their night is forever, the fact still remains
    In this world of confusion there is peace
    There is hope in despair, sometimes the beauty is a beast

    And they cannot see the lightning
    and they cannot see the thunder
    But they know what no-one understands
    The beauty is a blessing, love is all we got
    And theirs' is the most beautiful
    Christmas on the Block

    In the darkest corner of the night
    only dreams illuminate their eyes
    They can see all the colors that we cannot
    And theirs is the most beautiful
    Christmas on the Block

    I love that song!

    What I want for Christmas is simply a little more light, and beauty, in the world. I will do my part to make that happen.
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