As days grow ever shorter I welcome Christmas light displays as neighbors brave the chilly outside air to decorate. Without the lights and the celebration they symbolize, December could be a dreary month indeed.
Christmas lights brighten dark December because we still follow the tradition of commemorating Jesus’ birth at the time of the European celebration of the winter solstice. If I paid attention, could winter solstice be a heart-stopping moment? Could I feel the significance of that point in time when the darkness begins to recede? Instead, I will only notice that sunset comes a little later each day, sunrise a bit earlier. But the evidence that follows winter solstice keeps me believing in the yearly triumph of sunlight over frozen earth—the promise that spring’s new life will return, eventually bouncing us into sunny summer.