A Thousand Points of Light

Driving through town it’s noticeable a lot of people are decorating early for the 2020 holiday season. There’s a increase in the number of houses already ablaze with Christmas lights. 12-foot Santas, glowing reindeer and inflatable snowmen greet me every time I turn a corner. This year more than ever the overabundance of lights is a welcome sight.

People are cringing at the uptick in COVID-19 numbers attributed to Thanksgiving gatherings, but that hasn’t stopped them from moving on to the next holiday in record time. My wife works at the Reading Home Depot (if you ever need flooring, just ask for Priscilla). She shared how amazed she was at the brisk sales of holiday decorations this season. Christmas items were flying off the shelves in early October. There’s not going to be anything left for the annual After-Christmas Sale. There’s not much left now! That’s a good sign, not only for retail sales but for society’s mental state during the pandemic.

According to experts (whoever “they” are), holiday decorating can elevate your mood. Brightly lit houses on dark streets are signs that hope is on the horizon. The anticipation of the holiday can be felt in the electrically charged air. The break from routine has already started. And all of us really need a break from routine. It’s no fun being stuck inside your home in an endless loop of sameness for almost a year. Life has become the classic movie Groundhog Day – on steroids. Celebrating the holidays and keeping traditions alive in any way you can is a welcomed change of pace.

This is also a time for creating new traditions. My son and his family invited my wife and I to attend an event called the Magic of Lights. Since public safety now comes first, this event is a drive-thru holiday light experience at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

According to the slickly produced web site, “Magic of Lights is a unique and dazzling drive-through holiday lights experience to celebrate the season. Pile everyone into the car and experience Magic of Lights from the safety and comfort of your own car as you wind through the sparkling path. At every turn, the magical route is overflowing with spectacular light displays that bring your favorite holiday themes and characters to life.” Someone please give that copy writer a raise. 

Upon arrival at the stadium, we waited (and waited) in a long line of cars to begin our drive-thru tour. To pass the time we chit-chatted with the occupants of the cars beside us (socially distant of course). Headlights off, we sat in anticipation to begin our slow roll through the roughly two-mile winding roadside holiday light display. 

Oh, there were lights. Thousands of them. The lights formed many varieties of holiday themes ­– from Santa’s workshop to a giant menorah. There were even humongous waving candy canes. My granddaughter corrected me. “PeePaw, those are elves!” It was hard to tell from my vantage point in the way-back extra seat of the crowded Dodge Durango we rode in. There were silhouettes of happy snowmen, Santa doing flips on his motorcycle, a couple of Eiffel towers (why two?), lots of Christmas Trees and giant snowflakes blinking blue and white. I’m told The Twelve Days of Christmas were represented, although I only saw three. Maybe those dancing polar bears were really ten lords a leaping if you squinted hard enough. We passed by a line of camels and palm trees made of light. Shout out to the artistic director who made the little town of Bethlehem look like the Las Vegas strip.

The highlight for me was happening inside the car. My enjoyment of the festivities came from watching the faces of my grandchildren (ages 4 and 5) as they climbed halfway out of the sunroof ooh-ing and aww-ing at the glowing exhibits as we drove by. The children, laughing and giggling, would shout “Merry Christmas!” to other patrons who had their car windows open. They waved and laughed with other kids sticking out of sunroofs of other cars. The cold night air didn’t bother anyone, in fact it added to the winter atmosphere.

When my grandson thought it would be funny to cheer “Happy Halloween!” to the masked flashlight-waving traffic attendant, the attendant shouted “Happy Halloween!” right back at him. Spirits were high. For a little while, watching the miles of colorful lights put the pandemic behind us (even behind me, and I was sitting far away in the cramped extra seat in the way-back of the Durango, did I mention that?).

This year, it’s important to find enjoyment wherever you can, in any way you can. I am truly blessed to have a family that keeps making memories I’ll be able to look back on and laugh about long after this pandemic ends. A thousand points of light aren’t necessary. All you really need is one.

2 thoughts on “A Thousand Points of Light

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