Merry and Bright

The tree at the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington DC

This year I’ve noticed that more private homes than ever have already started to put up Christmas decorations. I’m guessing that this year has felt like a heavy weight on others beside me and that people are desperate to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

I’m projecting, of course, but I’ve heard from a lot of people who reacted to the time change this year as though it was something brutal and punishing. Summer was too short, or perhaps this is how it feels moving through middle age. Time passes more quickly, and the contrasts feel more stark.

I think I’m okay with throwing myself into the holidays early. I used to put off decorating until December 1. The porch would be lit and the holiday cards started. We wouldn’t get a live tree until later, closer to Christmas, and we’d make Malasadas (L’s Portuguese roots) and play Christmas carols while we trimmed it.

My younger son, P, started insisting on putting up a lot more lights than I would, and where I much preferred white light out doors and colored lights in, whereas he would like enough colored blinking and flashing lights to be seen from space. He fiddles with the lights for most of the season, oblivious to the cold.

Several years ago, a man starting writing to the local paper asking if people in town would leave their holiday lights up well into the winter. He suggested that because it gets so dark so early, those leftover lights might help lift the spirits of those traveling on the roads at night. I loved this idea. It is similar to my habit of forcing bulbs indoors throughout the winter so I have something bright to look at during the sanity straining months of February and March. This year I bought a new set of solar lights for the mailbox post. I can keep them up year round if I want to.

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