Every once in a while I see a jogger and react in a way that is incomprehensible to thinking people. I say to myself, “I should start jogging.” One spring a few years ago, during such a period of insanity, I began running around a couple of blocks. The highlight of my stroll was passing an out of the ordinary yard not far from our house. At night, when the lights are on, it can’t be missed. The most striking feature is the Christmas lights. The lights, which cover a Mulberry tree, are a startling variety of colors. A red birdhouse with a black roof invites passersby to “See Rock City.” A big red bow adorns a holly wreath. It’s hard not to smile at the yard.
In a conversation with someone who lived a few doors down I asked, “What’s the story with your neighbor’s Christmas lights? That’s an interesting yard.”
The yard is not as amusing to him as it is to me: “Those stupid Christmas lights have been up for years. It makes me furious when I think about what that yard does to my property values. I am sorely tempted to buy a BB gun just to shoot those &%$* lights!”
I started to rethink my feelings. Perhaps the yard wasn’t as wonderful as I originally thought. Maybe I would feel differently if I lived next door. Then one evening, as I was leisurely making my way I saw a woman working in “the yard” just up ahead. I sped up so that ten minutes later, when I was in need of a break anyway, I was able to stop and say: “Your yard is really interesting. Is there a story behind the Christmas lights?”
She smiled, “Yes, there is.”
She pointed to the house across the street and identified a particular window: “The elderly woman who lives there came to stay with her children seven years ago. She’s in her nineties now and seldom leaves her room. After her first Christmas here she went on and on about how much she enjoyed looking at the lights and bright colors in our yard. We’re the only view she has. When Christmas was over, we didn’t have the heart to take the lights down. We decided that as long as she’s around, we’d leave the lights on.”
In a world full of darkness, we need to leave the lights on.