“Daddy, can we PLEASE, pretty please look at Christmas lights on the way home?”
The voice begs from the backseat, and I sneak a peek at Greg, who sighs with exasperation. His long day at work, combined with leading the kids' group for two hours at the church's midweek service, does not make him a pleasant traveling companion this evening. “Maquela, Daddy's tired....”
“Please, Daddy?” Her charm turns up a notch, as she knows she can turn his heart any direction.
He looks toward me, exhaustion evident on his face. “Shannon....”
I turn to the cherub face in the backseat. “Darling, Daddy's been working hard all day, and he needs to sleep. We can look at Christmas lights later.”
“Okay, Mommy. But soon? It's almost Christmas!” Every year, our little eight-year-old waits eagerly for Christmas, practically bursting with more excitement each day as December 25th draws near.
“We'll do it soon, Sweetie. Don't worry – there's still a week left before Christmas.”
A family tradition, Christmas light “hunting” remains one of my favorite activities of the busy holiday season. As people make their lives more and more busy, fewer houses have lights on them as in my own memory, but occasionally we can find the rare jewels of the local neighborhoods.
I suppress my own desires to see some Christmas lights as we pass the entrances to several housing developments, even as Maquela sighs in wonder from the backseat at the sight of a few nicely decorated houses.
Without warning, Greg suddenly turns the car into a development entrance, and gears down to a slow crawl along the side of large and generously lit houses.
“Ooo! Wow, Daddy – look at that one!” Maquela's voice rises with uncontained excitement. “Mommy! See the reindeer on the roof! Wow – look at those pretty blue lights on the bushes!”
I flash a smile at Greg and lean in to kiss him. “Thank you, Sweetheart.”
“I know you like them too,” he replies, returning the kiss.
“I just like spending time together as a family. Well, okay; I do like looking at Christmas lights sparkling in the night.” I press my nose against the window pane and gaze at one house lit with large multicolored lights along every edge.
As we slowly drive through the development, oo-ing and ah-ing at each beautiful house, I reflect on the Scripture that we had read to the children earlier this evening. Matthew 5:14 - “You are the light of the world.” We made the point that with Jesus in our heart, we could shine His love and joy to everyone around us.
I considered the difference between decorated houses and those without lights of any kind. The brightly lit houses drew attention, attracting people from nearby roads to take the time to drive by for a closer look. In contrast, the darkened houses lacking Christmas lights could be passed by without hardly any notice, no matter how nice they might appear in the light of day.
No matter how beautiful or interesting we make ourselves on the outside, every effort means nothing unless we allow God to decorate our life with the light of His love, joy, and peace. Only then will our light shine in the darkness of the world, drawing others in for a closer look.
Greg slows the car down to a stop at the sight of one house brightly lit from top to bottom, the yard complete with every possible Christmas-themed decoration including a Nativity scene.
“Wow,” we all say in unison.
We stare at the house for a few minutes, lost in the wonder of the carefully designed light display. Maquela bounces in her seat, straining to see every single corner of the yard. “Mommy, this house is the very best one!” she proclaims decidedly.
“I agree.” I say.
“Me too.” Greg chimes in his opinion.
“Thank you, Daddy, for letting us see the pretty Christmas lights!”
“Of course, my little Quela,” he smiles genuinely and reaches in the backseat to hold her little hand. “It makes me happy to share this time with you.”
I beam at him, basking in the joy of having our family together even for a few moments during the busy holiday season. Slowly I lean back toward the window to gaze at the lovely light display.
Thank you, Lord, for putting your light in us. Let me always shine out the beauty of your light for all to see.
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