Well, Christmas is old news. New Year’s was the day before yesterday. Now we head into what I always think of as the darkest part of winter.
The days are of course getting longer, but they are starting from a very short place on December 21. With the end of the holidays comes the end of holiday decorations and all the lights associated with that. The weather tends to be fairly “iffy” – with clouds and snow or rain being the dominant feature. Sunny days tend to be bone-chilling cold as the weather that supports having sunny days is, guess what?, ARCTIC high pressure systems – cold fronts from the North Pole. So even when we get a sunny day, it comes with a nasty price tag.
Ok this sounds like a bit of whining, and it is exactly that. Winter’s only been rolling about 4 weeks now and already I’m bitching? No, not really. The snow is beautiful, and well, if we’re going to have to deal with cold, we might as well have the beauty of snow to go with it.
So, what’s my problem, you say? Well, my problem is that I think decorating outdoors with lights is a fine idea that’s wasted on Christmas. Now, those that know me, know I grew up in that religion that celebrates Christmas, and now I’m Jewish. And, those that know me, know we celebrate Christmas with my family, so please, don’t think this is a bash on Christmas. It’s not – sorry, Sarah Palin, you won’t get the satisfaction of saying I’m a Jew waging war on Christmas.
My point is that, well, the lights are pretty. They break the darkness that is winter from January until the middle of March. But for some reason, it’s a) in bad taste to run your outdoor light decorations all winter long; and b) decorating outdoors with lights somehow is the exclusive property of those that celebrate Christmas. Wouldn’t it be fun to drive down your street every night coming home after work and each house is festively lit up a bit, or a pretty tree is decorated with lights?
And what about us Jews? Wait a minute – isn’t Hannukah THE FESTIVAL OF FREAKIN’ LIGHTS? So why don’t we seize the tradition and show everyone that we OWN THE LIGHT. But nope, we instead light a handful of forlorn skinny candles that burn out in 20 minutes, sing a couple of songs in a minor key and we keep the outside of our houses dark. Honestly, my tribal pals, I do think we can dial up the Festival part of the Festival of Lights a bit.
I’m sure every one of us has enjoyed going to a restaurant somewhere where they have the trees, or the patio, or whatnot, decorated festively with twinkly little lights in the summer time. Why don’t we decorate our houses with those in the winter? Let’s add a little glow to the darkness, gang!
Over our patio, we have a very large pergola – a large trellis-like structure that provides some shelter and dappled shade in the summer. For parties and such, I’ve strung it with lights, and after our last big party out there, my 50th birthday, we left them up and turned on until the string completely burned out. But you know what, it was festive.
Light up the night folks – those with lights up – do me a favor – leave them on a bit longer this year. I won’t say anything bad about you for doing it. Take them down of course when the snow is gone and it’s no longer dark at 6:00 PM, but for now, in the coldest, darkest part of winter? Leave them on. As for me? Well, it’s too damn cold for me to go put anything up, but just maybe next year, I’ll do some outdoor lights – I’ll find a light up Star of David or Menorah to make sure I’m representin’ the tribe correctly, but I think I’ll do it.
The famous quote is “tis better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness”. Well, how about we light up a few hundred twinkly lights instead?
As you were,