And tonight we’ll catch the Christmas lights and remember a day when we treated them like fireflies.


Drive slower tonight and suck in the beauty that is living on lawns and awnings these days.

The World, she’s holding something peculiar to her bosom right now like the locket a shy girl held to her chest all the days of 1942.

 A sacred kind of time where fragile instruments—xylophones & harps & the high notes we rarely talk about, sitting on the fringe of Baby Grand pianos—get unbuckled from their dusty cases to be the centerpieces of Christmas songs that sit in our throats but once a year.

It will be gone soon, so suck it in.

Suck, the way you once sucked hot chocolate from your crazy straw on the Day You Realized Life was Designed to Turn Color with Heat.

Before. It. Slips.

Slips from the back door, out the side window where the wind chimes hang.

Slips like the wayward wafting of the aroma of Grandma’s pies just the year after no one could find her standing by the counter, checking the timer against the pulse of her wrist.

The season missed her that year. The season wept to the tune of Oh, Holy Night that year.

The World, she’s allowing this crazy, little thing to conspire where suddenly the December Air is hoisting up Certain Lines of Songs by the waist as if they were the ballerinas meant to steal the final curtain call in the Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center. The Waltz of the Sugarplum Fairies. Up, up in the air they go.

“Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” “From now on your troubles will be miles away.”

Lines I never thought to believe in, with a fist to my heart, until the red cups came out and the wicker of the lawn reindeer caught frost in their limbs each morning.

It is a 31-day span of time made for Joy, made for Simplicity. For the stripping of the garland off the staircase to find we should have been giving to one another all along.

Should have been waiting under the mistletoe for you long before we tacked an advent calendar to the wall and pulled “Elf” out from hiding.

Should have been holding, long before Bing Crosby bellowed over shopping mall speakers that it was, in fact, cold outside. Too bad we really cannot stay. Too bad we have to go away.

Love sits heavy on custom cards these days—the one time of year where we might still think to use a stamp, lick an envelope and send pictures we took of our children on the beach in August, before that growth spurt in October, sailing into hands of Postmen who dream of the paperless eCards they’ll send when they get home.

Memories remind us what it was like to believe in something

Just Because.

Just Because

it was some sort of thrilling to believe that 32 hooves would shuffle on our chimney tops when the Sugar Plums fairies started dub stepping in our heads.

Just Because

it was more exciting than anything to don a bright red coat and a muffler between our hands, trying Sky High Kicks in Central Park before the Radio City Spectacular confirmed every ounce of our dreams to be a Rockette one day.

Just Because

there was something peaceful about changing out of the holiday dress to wear a bed sheet around our torsos and sit down, Indian-style, to hear about a story of a poor boy, born in a manger to two peasants. And we whispered into the ears of one another, “Did she say Frankenstein? Who’s Myrrh?”

Something peaceful in the chance to put down our chocolate-covered pretzels to cup a Linus-like message in our hands. Good News. Great Joy. Cupped in our hands, wishing we could feed something as magical as this to the reindeer.

It will go quickly. Slip away quietly.

In one week we’ll watch the trees—flopping and folded—as the doormen carry them out to stack beside the sidewalks of a New York City that loves the way people look to her for the holidays. No one hosts a Christmas party the way she can. Denver would admit it. Chicago would call it a fact. And San Diego sits, holding his breath, wondering if NYC will remember to send an invite to his door.

Perhaps it is the Christmas season, or maybe it’s all of life.

Regardless, it will slip through the fingers. Unpredictable. Quick. But beautiful if you stop to see the lights.

The way they cascade the limbs. The way they can take a home, full of hopeless bodies that don’t know Family the way they know the first few lines of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and somehow make anyone want to come inside to see if magic hangs on the brows of the bodies the way it hangs from the beige shutters.

That’s the hope in it all. The delicacy. The possibility. The chance to believe.

That’s the season. That’s life.

It’s all just the chance to find some sort of reminder to hitch to our hearts like the star on the tree: It sure is wonderful, all of this, and some kind of rare we should talk about more, when the white lights take you in to be held by a hope you never knew you could hold.  

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2 Comments

Filed under Holidays

2 responses to “And tonight we’ll catch the Christmas lights and remember a day when we treated them like fireflies.

  1. Kate

    this was simply some sort of wonderful. everything about this was just as magical and awspiring as the lights and smells you described so beautifully. thank you for this. it definitely made me want to stop and appreciate the short eleven days we have left in this month and take them in for all they offer:)

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