“Mommy, look! It looks like a candy house!”
“Look at the sparkles, Mommy!”
My neighborhood is resplendent with Christmas lights, wreaths and garlands. Even the lamposts are decorated with red ribbons, lights, and a sprig of plastic pine. It’s a nice change from our neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where few of our neighbors put up any lights — a habit I presume is formed not from a lack of Yuletide spirit (although, granted, there were some Jewish families on the block) but simply because our 1930s cottages simply lacked good outdoor access to electricity.
Now we live in Twinkletown. However, given that we are on the East Bench, it’s an austere, tasteful Twinkletown. There are no blow-up nylon balloon Santas, animatronic reindeer, or hard plastic snowmen. There’s one — just one — house on the block with a row of electric candy canes, but it’s very small. Nothing blinks.
Therefore, I didn’t feel bad at all about investing in only three little strings of white lights to run along the roof of our porch. No muss, no fuss. The hooks were already there, we just had to hang the lights on them. In my theory, Christmas light displays shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes to set up. But I was concerned that my kids wouldn’t feel the same way.
I grew up on Army posts, where there were rules about how many lights could be put on residential quarters. No lawn ornaments, and only a few strings of lights. There’s no room for the Electric Light Parade in the Army. But as a little kid, I always kind of longed for something more — something rainbowy to drape over our trees and bushes, to transform our practical-yet-mundane quarters into a fairyland.
So I was worried that my kids would be disappointed with our tiny amount of twink. But I needn’t have worried.
“Mommm! Come see the lights that Daddy put up!” Eleanor cheered and twirled as Jeffrey proudly displayed Brian’s work. William clapped his little hands. And I remembered that any amount of twinkle is special, no matter how small. It’s our house; it’s special to our kids.
Last night I drove Jeffrey home from a Christmas party, and I pointed out lights from the windows. We passed the candy cane house.
“Jeffrey, look! Does that house look like it’s made out of candy?”
“Yeah, Mom! It looks yummy!”
Then we turned the corner to our home, and I noticed that a third of the lights had somehow gone out. I winced as I pulled into the driveway.
“Mommy, do you know what our house looks like?”
“No, Jeffrey. What?”
“I think it looks like the way it did on Christmas night.”
I puzzled over this for a moment. Does he realize that our house didn’t exist in ancient Bethlehem?
“Jeffrey, do you mean that our house looks like a stable?”
“No Mom,” he whispered. “I think it looks like the sky full of stars on Christmas night.”
He fluttered his fingers in the air to demonstrate, and I think my heart fluttered, too.