One special Christmas shines most brightly | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Dec 18, 2016

My favorite Christmas memories shine with light, light that flooded the holiday seasons of my youth, leaving memories as clear as a bright star in a cold night sky. As a grownup, I count annually on the lights of Christmas to bring new energy and new hope. Of course, in the darkness of Pacific Northwest Decembers, there is every reason to appreciate light, whether in the glow of candles or the glitter of starlight.

Some of my old Christmas memories glow especially brightly, enhanced by the blurring of time, old memories tempered by new ones. Christmas! Candles and fireplaces and strings of white or multicolored electric lights wound around Christmas trees in living rooms or front yards, draped along deck railings or hanging iciclelike along roof lines.

Early sunsets and neighbors coming home from work in semidarkness, plugging in outdoor lights as they leave cars in driveways or garages, home for the evening.

Years ago, I wrote about our family’s first Christmas after moving into a house above Olympic View Drive when I was a teenager. After we moved in, my father was delighted when he discovered several large boxes of outdoor Christmas lights in the attic. As he opened the first box, and the second and the third, he learned why the boxes were large.

The hundreds of lights were all 25- or 40-watt bulbs. Digging further into the boxes, he discovered that every light was red. He had envisioned smaller, multicolored lights, but he quickly decided big red lights would do just fine.

My exuberant father could hardly wait to arrange those lights across the broad expanse of shrubbery the width of the lawn below the house, visible from indoors and from the road below. He worked through an early December Sunday afternoon, weaving lights through the bushes, finally hurrying to the house at dusk to summon his family to watch as he plugged them in.

I can’t imagine now why he didn’t blow a fuse, plunging the entire property into darkness, but that did not happen. Those lights no doubt were viewable from space. Fleetingly, I wondered what Rudolph would think on Christmas Eve.

Surely, no place outside Disneyland glowed more brightly! My practical mother, I noticed, seemed a bit subdued. In January, when the PUD bill arrived, my father learned why his wife had lacked enthusiasm. The display of lights would never happen again, unless the family agreed to forego December groceries. Oh, but that one Christmas, those lights were epic.

Smiling, I think of my Dad every December as I string batches of tiny white and multicolored lights across my deck, placing them so that I can view them from the living room while others can see them from below.

Light comes in many forms, including the light of generosity and kindness. I am grateful to everyone who worked on the Edmonds Food Bank annual Christmas Toy Shop, providing toys for over 1,000 kids. Special thanks to Harvy Bike Shop for the love and determination that went into spiffing up donated bikes to thrill 50 boys and girls.

Although light is a bright gift of Christmas, some people feel only darkness during the holidays. I hope something, or someone, will lighten their spirits, lead them toward happier days.

Some Christmases are more difficult than others; I know that to be true. I hope for everyone that somewhere in the night sky of December there will shine a bright star, illuminating new hope and the possibility of joy.

I look to the East for that star.



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