This hasn't been the easiest Christmas season for me. In fact, it's been the most challenging one so far. I've kept it slow and simple and that helped, yes, but your lights? Your beautiful bright Christmas lights? They meant the world to me this year.
Every evening as the sun starts to go down, I make myself a mug of tea and settle myself into my favourite chair with a warm blanket. I put on Christmas music - the mournful ones, mostly, the come, Emmanuel ones, because that's where my heart is this year.
And then I just sit there and watch.
I watch the sun spread its beautiful pinks and blues and oranges through the scattered clouds. I watch as the sky darkens and the colours fade, and then I watch as you replace that beautiful sunset with bright colours of your own. The sky turns deepest blue and you start to plug in your Christmas lights, one at a time, as you get home from work or notice the darkening house or usher your sweet children in through the door. All up and down the street, blink, blink, blink, houses burst into bright reds, blues, yellows, and greens, and I just sit there sipping my tea and singing those Christmas songs as I watch.
We don't have any Christmas lights this year - a new house and a shortage of spare money and a lack of mental presence all combined to leave our house dark - but your beautiful lights bless me every evening. They minister to me, speaking of hope, of light in the darkness, of brightness and joy where winter would offer only chilled silence. I sit there in the growing darkness and am reminded that darkness doesn't have the final word. Your bright lights shine in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
So I say it again, to everyone who took the time to put up Christmas lights this year, to plug them in each evening as the darkness gathers: Thank you. Truly and from the bottom of my heart.
Next year, I'll see what I can do about adding our own brightness to the dark nights.