Some of my fondest Christmas childhood memories are of my family driving through the neighborhoods looking at the Christmas light displays in our little rural community. Lights back in those days were simple; usually a string of multi-colored lights framing the roof or wrapped around an outdoor tree. Sometimes an angel or star shined brightly from the peak of the roof. Some yards had the plastic nativity sets, too. Regardless of one’s religious orientation, there is just something peaceful about the nativity scene.
This past weekend we took our annual Christmas lights display drive with our best friends in the world. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it. We live in a much bigger community now, and the light displays are all over the city requiring us to rely on Google Search and Google Maps to get us to the best Christmas light displays. Technology isn’t all bad.
There are whole neighborhoods in our community whose occupants set up themed light displays and ornate decorations. Hundreds of cars full of people drive through the neighborhoods as part of their Christmas traditions every year. Signs are posted inviting carloads of sightseers to tune into radio stations that broadcast Christmas music that is often synced to the Christmas light displays. It’s fun to watch the faces of children as the lights twinkle and flash on and off to favorite tunes of the season. This year we saw several party buses and limos joining in on the fun. It’s the simple things in life that bring us the most joy.
As we drove, we chatted about the light displays, sang along with the Christmas carols, and reminisced about the year we took our dogs with us. It was about six years ago or so. The weather was bitter cold that year. We brought Harley and Chardonnay, our two Yorkies, and our friends brought their beloved Whippet, Earnie. We stopped at one extravagant display where a bench had been set up within the display for onlookers to stop and snap pictures. My friend and I sat on the bench holding our pups while our husbands captured the moment. That picture hangs on my office wall. Harley and Earnie have since crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but their memories live on in our hearts, and their spirits are always with us because love never dies.
Christmas traditions are important to the fabric of family and community. They help us to define our priorities, bridge the gap between generations, and bring families closer together. Traditions give us a sense of belonging, hope for the future, and memories of the past. The older I get the more important traditions become. Starting new traditions that our children will carry on is important, too. When we pass from this life into the next, fond memories of Christmases’ past will warm the hearts of future generations.
As I grow older, I have learned to appreciate and savor the little things, the traditions passed from one generation to the next, to be grateful for another day, another opportunity to enjoy life in the simplest ways. We lose sight of that sometimes in the busyness of life – to appreciate what we have, to be grateful. Truly, the simple things in life give us the most joy…..