It seems to me that people who leave their Christmas lights up all year get a bad reputation. You know; you might be a redneck if you leave your Christmas lights up until the 4th of Jue-Lie. ( that’s July for those of you who do not speak Red neck.) George Strait even wrote a song about the redneck ways of a man named Leon Dixon who leaves his Christmas lights up all year-long. Of course you know Leon spelled backwards is Noel. It just seems like we think leaving the Christmas lights up too long is some sign of mental illness, or perhaps a symptom of laziness and procrastination. No decent disciplined middle class homeowner would disgrace the neighborhood and entire community by overextending the Christmas lights. Personally I am a Christmas guy. I love Christmas! I love everything about it! The cookies, the parties and gatherings, the music, and especially the lights. My study looks like it could be the Study of Pastor S. Claus complete with snowmen, and Santa’s, a manger scene, and two Christmas trees that you’ve guessed it… remain up all year long. When I was growing up it was tradition for my Mom and Dad to load all four boys in the family car and drive around town and look at all the lights. Later when I had my own children we would travel to pre – casino Niagara Falls NY and Canada with my Brother, and Uncle, and their families to see the impressive Festival of Lights sponsored by those communites.When we lived in New England my father in – law would always take our family to Rhode Island to the Lasolette Monastery to see the light display that covered the entire grounds of the Abbey. I love the Christmas lights.
Maybe it’s because I am somewhat of a redneck, or perhaps its simply because I come from the state of perpetual bleak mid-winter (Upstate New York). But I am in favor of extending the Christmas lights until at least the end of February. I also purpose that this custom be redefined from Christmas lights to Winter lights. Maybe its the depletion of commonsense resulting from vitamin D deprivation. Maybe it’s the eternal gloom of overcast skies and impending blizzard conditions of the state in which I live. Perhaps it’s the continual sub-zero temperatures and windchill that has frozen my brian, and short circuited my ability to reason. Whatever the case may be my heart is strangely warmed as I drive through the oppressive darkness of another Upstate winter night and am surprised by the encounter of the warmth and cheer of those winter lights. My heart fills with gratitude for those stallwart souls on my street with the intestinal fortitude of leaving their lights on well after Christmas. I feel a certain sort of kinship and solidarity with them as I drive past their homes and yards, that are still warmly beaconing the light of hope. I am especially grateful to the heroic homeowners off of route 13 between Ithaca and Dryden who have an elaborate light display in the spirit of Holiday Inn (the movie) for every holiday season. You are true Upstater’s, and I thank you for the warmth and cheer you have given to me and my family over the years. We look forward to driving past your house and enjoying your creative genius. Jesus said “You are the light of the world a city on a hill cannot be hidden.” and “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” I’m not sure that leaving your Christmas lights up all year-long was what Jesus had in mind when he spoke these words. But the winter lights for me serve as a reminder that my life needs to shine even in the darkest and bleakest of times. We have an opportunity like never before in a post Christian generation to have even the smallest of lights add great luminescence. So as you drive past my house in the midst of the bleak mid-winter of an Upstate NY existence, you can be rest assured that my winter lights will be burning brightly. “This little light of mine… I’m gonna let it Shine!”