Holiday Lights

Are holiday lights just part of a superficial romance? by Aphrodite Kishi

When I was a child, my mom would pack my siblings and I into the car to escape into the land of holiday lights. Driving slowly through the neighborhoods with elaborate lighting displays during the Christmas season gave us a dazzling holiday tour without the holiday bustle. No shopping, no waiting in line for Santa—just taking in the charm of the holiday lights.

What is so magical about those Christmas lights with their built-in twinkles? Why do people, even those of secular or lukewarm faiths, delight over the Christmas season as they observe the holiday lights?

Christmas lights seem to transform the atmosphere. The glittering lights that adorn branches and roofs do more than just light up dark December days. They bring joy. Each year, we are reminded that even in a dark and rather tragic world there is nothing more beautiful than the aura of shimmering lights.

But those lights point to something infinitely greater, to which theologian Alexander Schmemann ascribed “the first light of the greatest possible joy”—the coming of Christ into His world. Schmemann references some of the oldest nativity canons of the Christian faith, in which Christians glorify God, receive Him, and are elevated with his coming. Christian tradition teaches that the spiritual reality of Christ’s coming brings with it the light of wisdom, a sun of righteousness, and the brightest star that taught, and is still teaching, man to adore God.

But a Christmas season reduced to sparkling scenery is a Christmas season without the true Light. While it is easy to reduce the holiday season to the glitz and glamour of Christmas decorations—and the surface-level romance, nostalgia, and enchantment associated with them—we must never lose sight of what it means to adore God, participate in His mystical grace, and yearn for a heavenly home.

Perhaps our consumer-driven world will make it harder to grasp these deeper truths with each coming Christmas. As the world increasingly makes the holiday season less about what actually happened on Christmas, focusing on the holiday season in true remembrance of Christ becomes increasingly challenging.

But remembrance is what grounds us in our beliefs, faith, and understanding. Just as the world received an Incarnate Christ over 2,000 years ago, so does the Church receive Him each and every day. True remembrance of Christ will not only enliven the holiday season, but the entire year.

The lighting of Christmas trees and houses invoke feelings of holiday cheer. They’re great. But how much greater is the true Light? And how much darker is our world without it?


Aphrodite Kishi is a senior at Patrick Henry College where she studies political journalism and the classical liberal arts. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband.

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