Who turned out the lights?
Two months ago, we could drive down any street in town and mistakenly think we’d stumbled into a carnival. Both sides of the street lit up with coloured lights, banners, spotlights and drapes, inflatables, and so on, even music – yes, it was the Christmas season, but a season even bigger than that. Everyone took part, no matter their religious beliefs, cultural background, history, education and profession – we were all celebrating, with our lights and colour, the darkest time of the year.
Christmas, in fact, appropriated that dark pagan holiday. We all, pagans or not, suffer the short days, long nights and cold temperatures. We put up our answer to the dark solstice : colour and light. And it seems to work, year after year. We do feel better, less oppressed by the season, and merely having that power to resist time’s calendar empowered us all a little. It certainly made us smile a lot more.
Today our streets are largely dark. The days, however, don’t seem much longer and the nights seem just as dark and cold as they did in December. So why aren’t we keeping our house lights up longer? We don’t like being happy? The exclamations and smiles of the kids are no longer important to us? Hardly.
Certainly it is not a question of cost. Modern bulbs are incredibly cheap to run, and not expensive to buy. Now, with some snow finally on the ground, our lights would be magnified all the more, reflecting off all this crisp clean snow. Lights to go with the season’s shadows.
So why is the dark our default?
I suppose we might feel we wouldn’t be moving with the times, that we’d feel somehow stuck back in December. We have, after all, just celebrated Valentines, presumably a day of love, laughter and sweets. Snowflake Kingdom/Winterlude has just ended, and other holidays and celebrations approach. Do we have to clear every deck for them? Do we have to strip down the colour from our lives because Easter is on the horizon? Why!
Well, our house still has its lights up and the automatic timer switches them on not long after the winter sun disappears each day. And, surprisingly, several other homes on our street have done the same. “Lights out!” isn’t a rule. Darkness doesn’t necessarily rule our days.
We’ve decided to take the lights down later, depending on the weather and this year’s climate. We’re ready to tell the world that a little light and colour is what we all need – one of those famous small things which makes such a big difference in our lives. No, it’s not about Christmas now, nor about the shortest day of the year. It’s about feeling good about ourselves – and good about our neighbours and our streets. It’s about grasping a little happiness wherever it appears. It’s about avoiding some of the grouchiness that comes with deep winter.
How about at your house?