Comfort and joy

Published on: 12/4/2011

Maybe it’s because I’ve had the bug that’s been going around, but I’m having trouble getting into the spirit of the season. Or maybe I’m just not “getting” contemporary aesthetics in holiday decorating.

What’s with the trunk lights?

More and more people are wrapping lights or throwing nets around tree bottoms. The result is a lit stumpy thing. I look and think “Oh. Lights on a tree trunk.”  Or maybe “Oh. Lots of lights on a tree trunk!”

Our notion of how things should be usually is set, as so many of our ideas of rightness are, in childhood. The ideal outdoor tree still living in my head was a huge and stately hawthorn tree on Lake Drive. It shone through every holiday season back when we called it Christmas in the 60s and 70s, maybe longer.

Every tiny branch seemed lit, and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It said “Oh Beauty!!! TREE OF LIGHT!!!”

The word awesome is overused today, but displays of great artistic beauty really can inspire awe – “an emotion of mingled reverence, dread, and wonder inspired by something majestic or sublime.” Short the dread part, the sense of being in the presence of something sublime is a very special feeling. You get it often in nature, less often from the works of man. When the two come together, as they did in that fully lit tree, heart and spirit soars in wonder.

Maybe it's just age robbing me of instant delight in almost everything, not measured against ideals or concepts learned at home and in school. I'll ratchet back my expectations and take pleasure from the work other people do to celebrate the season. (My own small efforts will be limited to an indoor tree.)

And I'll be glad there's no limit to the wonder that comes from the moon and stars, no limit to the comfort that comes from the warm light in people’s windows as the year continues to grow darker.

What brings you delight, comfort, or joy this holiday season? Anything excite wonder?  I'd love your comments.

(Elves are welcome but not Christmas trolls. I don’t usually censor but I will remove unpleasant or political comments just this time)