…and they are bright and shiny and glittery and magical, until suddenly they start going out, one by one, until the whole strand becomes nothing more than cheap wire with an electrical plug on one end?
You shake the cord. You plug the cord into a different outlet. You shake the cord again.
Sometimes some of the lights flicker on again briefly. And sometimes they just stay totally dark.
There might be times when you stand in that darkness, feeling like everyone else you know has Christmas lights that work. It might even feel like the whole world is filled with sparkle and twinkle and all you have in your grasp is cheap, plastic coated wire that contains no joy, whatsoever.
If things have been difficult for some time, perhaps the lights coming on at all are really the startling thing. That little bit of glow might feel like a broken promise…or the taunt of a world that seems determined to make the darkness absolute.
Loss. Sorrow. Grief. Disapointment. Pain. Worry. Fear. Expectations. Memories.
One by one the lights flicker out. And sometimes they come on, but sometimes it seems that they just continue until it feels like there is no reason to even look for the plug to try anymore.
Christmas in the dark can be a lonely, isolated time.
I wish I had the answers on how to keep those fragile little bulbs from going dark. I wish I had the reasons that life has to be so difficult.
But, I don’t.
The only thing that works for me is even on the blackest of days, I make myself look outside myself. I’m not saying, “Oh, so many people have it worse than me”. I think I’m saying, “Things are pretty lousy right now but if I let them, all the bad things will corrode these lights to the point that they will never work again.” And that is a risk I am unwilling to take. A possibility my heart cannot afford.
So I will continue to play Christmas music loudly, sing carols badly, wrap presents with too much tape and too few ribbons. I will rejoice in my Christmas cards, and drop jingly change into the Salvation Army buckets and I will hope.
And I will hope that if you are sitting in the darkness, the lights will come a-glow for you as well.
Perhaps if we plug all of our light strands together in a sense of community and kindness and prayer and compassion, we can make this holiday just a bit brighter...
…for each of us…no matter if we are sitting in the darkness or in a dazzling, deck-the-hall room!
Once we take down all the holly and the shiny ornaments and throw away the wrapping paper all that really matters are kind words, thoughtful hugs, and finding joy in small moments…