That’s pretty much how Robbie opens Christmas season at our house. Every year when he crawls into the attic and pulls out the boxes, he seems disappointed with our stash. Christmas lights, I guess, are like bathing suit bottoms; they spend the off-season lying in the dark, plotting all the ways that they will not work properly when you decide that you need them again.
And so, come December, Robbie heads out to the store (Christmas lights being one of three things he likes to buy; the other two being surfer gear and Fritos). This year, he came back with 12 boxes, all white.
“It was buy one, get one free!” he crowed.
That would have been fine, except that after three hours of wrapping pretty much every bush and branch in our yard, he came back inside, looking for his car keys.
“Don’t tell me,” I said.
“Yep. We need more lights.”
And off he went.
I, meanwhile, stared at my un-decked halls and the naked tree that Robbie had erected in the family room. It had lights, sure, but no ornaments. They were still in the attic, nestled alongside my beloved collections of santas and nativity scenes, which I keep in separate storage boxes for theological reasons. Ever since my godly mother told my daughters that there was No! Such! Thing! as Santa Claus (“Do you really want to lie to your children?”), making them instant celebrity pariahs when they carried the news into preschool the next day, I have been very sensitive to the Santa-Jesus debate. (And to anyone reading this who had children at Atlanta’s Northside Methodist Preschool in the early 1990s, can I please just apologize again?)
(Seriously. I am sorry. And believe me, I totally understand why you didn’t let my girls come play at your houses that December. I would have shunned your children, too. I shunned my own mother that year.)
My decorations are still in the attic, and Christmas is just two weeks away. Robbie may be all HoHoHo, but I am just not feeling it this year. For one thing, we don’t have any kids home. For another (and this is embarrassing, but true), I am still cleaning up from the second wedding. And for a third, I think the tree hates me. It’s dropping needles faster than the dogs drop hair. And you know how I feel about that.
So there I was, staring at nothing and wondering if “My tree hates me” was a legitimate reason to seek professional counseling, when Robbie came back inside.
“I need your help to get this tree out to the dock.”
I knew we’d gotten a second tree (it was a thank you gift from Young Life), but I didn’t realize “we” had decided where to put it. Robbie, though, had a plan.
Sigh. I do love my man.
We got the thing up and then, sure enough, Robbie grabbed his car keys. “More lights?” I asked.
“Uh-huh. And…more extension cords!”
Robbie was thrilled with his handiwork. He couldn’t wait until dark. And when the sun finally set, he came into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around my waist. “Are you looking out at the tree?” he whispered.
“No, Honey. I am unloading the dishwasher.”
I suppose our holiday season would have gone on like this for the next two weeks, a couple of Christmas caricatures: One living like Buddy the Elf, the other too tired to even think about taking anyone’s last can of Who-hash.
But then, early this morning, I got up and looked out the window.
I couldn’t help but smile. Light just does that.
And how clever of God to bookend the Bible with light. Genesis 1:3 kicks off with the familiar “Let there be light,” and Revelation wraps up the whole story with the promise that the time is coming when we won’t need a lamp or even the sun, because the glory of the Lord will be our light and – cue Handel’s Messiah, which yes, we are going to, again – he “shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
If you’re feeling a little Scroogey and you don’t have your own resident Buddy to string up some cheer, never fear. Just pin up a strand someplace (the Young Life kids who were here the other night made human Christmas trees, so I guess you could maybe try that), and plug it in. And then open your Bible.
Because God’s Word is the best light of all.
Psalm 119:105 says it is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Next week, I’m going to share a few of my favorite ways to help us get this light into our lives in 2016 (I’m all about that plan, don’t you know!), but for now, I’ll leave you with a few choice bits to chew on as you look at your tree. Because even a Grinch like me can’t help but feel her heart growing with encouraging verses like these:
The light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. (John 1:5)
How happy are those who have learned how to praise You; those who journey through life by the light of Your face. (Psalm 89:15, Voice)
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Let there be light! (Even if it takes a few new extension cords.)