Light makes me bubble with joy. Let there be light!
When I was a child, we had family December light-viewing rituals. From early in the season to a few nights before Christmas our parents drove us around different Indianapolis neighborhoods to see all the light displays. We would stop whatever we were fighting about and pile unhappily into the car. A family of self-appointed judges, we debated which homes were the most beautiful. Every year we returned to one house in the country with a dizzying amount of illuminated displays, our winner’s choice.
Another special treat for me was when Mom and I dressed in our warmest boots, coats and gloves and took a bus downtown to the Circle. The two major department stores, L.S. Ayres and Block, decorated their display windows, with new animations which competed for our viewing pleasure. My great-grandmother walked us next door to her neighbor’s who decorated under her tree every year adding some little thing until her entire living room became the winter wonderland. I was enthralled as only a small child could be.
Lights are musical and theatrical. They represent putting yourself out in the open, and once you’re out there others can see and judge your performance. The History Girls loved Wicked.
Lights represent joyousness and fun and are good year round.
As I wrote this I realized that lights and judgement are interchangeable. When we look at lights we generally make a positive judgement. We judge the lights when they make an impression on us, and lights also make judging possible. Artists highlight positive attributes, and dim less desirable areas, making the good seem better by contrast. When there is too much light, we get overwhelmed and confused even if we think the lights are fabulous. We can’t appreciate details when everything is equally bright.
As an adult, I become that small child once again, excited when I see beautiful lights. Just over a week ago, my social studies buddies from around the country met in St. Louis for the National Council for the Social Studies Conference. Two friends of mine from San Diego and I had dinner, then took ourselves on a guided tour of the lit Sculpture Gardens in downtown. Lights create magic, and make us festive and playful.
I hope you enjoy your season of lights as much as I am already enjoying mine. To see other light displays click here.