In keeping with my theme of making Christmas more meaningful and gentle on the soul, to calm the longings and the expectations met and unmet, of Christmas’ past, present and future…here’s an update.
I live in a provincial state capital of Tropica. It’s a tropical city of a million although it doesn’t feel that way. I live on a funky street. The safest street in the world, but funky.
I have a street door made of wrought iron slats, so that passersby, if they choose to, can look inside and see a tiny receiving courtyard with a most compelling, rough hewn wooden bench that makes you want to be sitting on it, looking out. The courtyard has a feng shui, it’s a buffer zone from the street before you enter my house. It’s so mignon, that it creates wonder in me whenever I walk by my own house. “Who lives there?” I wonder. And, “I’d like to sit down on the bench for awhile.”
The only other thing in the minimalist courtyard is a small potted palm in a corner. I wove a strand of tiny, colorful, twinkling lights through the palm. Every evening around four when it starts to get dark, I plug in the lights. They don’t shine on the street, only if you look in as you pass by.
“Oh, that’s so lovely,” a student said when she arrived for class. “But what a waste, you don’t get to see it.”
But that’s precisely the point of exterior Christmas lights, isn’t it. It’s offering a little bit of magic to the world. An unexpected delight. A happy wish for a stranger. A frisson of flicker in the darkness of winter.
Every night before bed when I go out to unplug the lights, I sit on the bench and marvel at the magic, letting it thrill me too. The street is quiet, no one walks by except for the silent street cats. But still, my lights flicker in the darkness, saying, I send you sparkle.
And I do, dear readers. I send you sparkle.
P.S. Do tell me what you do to make yourself — and others — feel the sparkle and warmth of Christmas. Another thing I do is give away thousands of delicious calories. This year, as I find myself with a big bag of dates and another of walnuts in my pantry, I will bake loaves of retro Date Nut Bread. Cream cheese optional.