History & Culture

How One Simple Act Can Light the Way in the Dark This Christmas

AMAC Exclusive – By The Gallic

Christmas lights

Each year as Christmas would approach, in the busy Catholic home of my childhood, the magic of the season would slowly emerge. The tree would be erected, the lights would be hung, and the baking would commence. I come from a large family, with 7 brothers and 2 sisters, and when we sat down to eat, a mountain of food was consumed. With all the boys, there were many hands to help prepare for the holiday, and with the organizational genius of my parents, there was always plenty to do.

When Christmas Eve would come, we would decorate the tree, but it would not be lit. The Advent wreath would be removed and a one with red candles would take its place. The nativity would still be bare, until Christmas morning and we would get ready for Church.

At 6 pm on December 24, by agreement of our neighborhood, something remarkable occurred. My father, being among other things a great salesman, convinced everyone to wait until that time before they lit up their houses. So, on Christmas Eve at 6 PM, every house’s lights would be lit at once, and the dark street would be bathed in the glow of heavenly light. The secret decorating that each family would do was suddenly and without preamble revealed to the street, an amazing spectacle that left us awestruck each year. 

Some of the decorations were quite memorable. One year we came up with the idea of putting a ‘Merry Christmas’ on our chimney, which we carefully mounted only to realize that the wind was beating it to pieces, so we hastened to reinforce the mounts. I feel certain we won the ‘non’ competition that year. (Sadly, the sign was destroyed one January as a sudden gust of wind came up as I was taking it down. The choice was either to let go of it or try to fly off the roof. I opted not to fly.)

As I grew older, I often reflected on how this holiday tradition was a fitting reminder of the power of a little light in our darkened world. In the Bible, the Book of Isaiah says that “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” It’s a prophecy about the coming of Christ, and the reason we still celebrate the holiday by stringing up lights on our homes.

The crazy thing about darkness is that even the smallest spark of light defeats it. In a dark cave, a single candle can light the entire passage. The greater the darkness, the more powerful the influence of the light. As more candles are lit, the light grows ever more powerful, banishing the darkness from any space.

This is a lesson I return to often when the inevitable philosophic musings creep into my thoughts each holiday season: What does Christmas really mean today? Is it all commercial and bought online or is there something more to be had? In all the noise, is there something we miss?

These are not new questions; they’ve been kicking around for some time. Consider, for instance, the following from Dr. Seuss in 1957, when the Grinch seems puzzled that his theft of the materialistic symbols of Christmas from Whoville can’t darken the light within the hearts of the community:

 “It came without ribbons! It came without tags!”

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And after puzzling three hours, till his puzzler was sore, the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”

Christmas does mean quite a bit more. It is about love and peace and light. Gifts, although perhaps the prime symbol of Christmas materialism, are really about expressing our love for others, and sharing the light of the season with them. The dress you give a young granddaughter, which makes her feel like a princess, the rocking horse you give your grandson, from which he can rule the range, do more than entertain, they enlighten these little people to the love of their family.   Cookies, cards, a phone call, even a text, all can serve to bring light to the lives of others. On this Christmas Day, in the midst of the dark of winter, isn’t light what we all need? So, bring light to those around you this Christmas, share your love for each other, and don’t let fear of rejection stop you.  

After all, this season is about a baby born in a stable to a mother rejected from the inn, a defenseless child who yet is king. All of us who are parents can relate to the birth of a child and inwardly shudder at having done this in a stable. Time is measured from that moment, as everything changed and as the Angels filled the night with light, singing “Glory to God in the highest and Peace on Earth to those of Good Will.”

On some level, our community coming together to share in the lighting of the houses embodied all of those timeless truths about Christmas. As we stood with our families, neighbors, and friends, we were reminded that even in the darkest night, we all had the power to share our light with each other. So, no matter what darkness you may be facing this year, have hope and, like Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to all, and God bless us, everyone!”

The Gallic is the pen name of an educator with over 30 years of experience, who spends his time helping schools get better at teaching their students and parents happier at sending them to those schools.

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1 year ago

A fantastic reminder! Very well written.

Bill on the Hill
1 year ago

Wonderful story & yes Tiny Tim summed it up beautifully & with some thanks to Scrooge himself, Tiny Tim walked again, enjoyed life with his precious family all around him & whence Bob Cratchit returned to work, Mr. Scrooge doubled his salary & loaded the stove with coal…
Great story told here, especially the part on deciding NOT to fly off the roof!
Merry Christmas & a most Happy New Year ahead for everyone…
Bill… :~)

1 year ago

I am a church organist and played for two services on Christmas Eve. It was a wonderful day and I was reminded of the importance of it all. Keep the faith everyone. We will get out of this mess someday soon. I don’t think Jesus will let us down. Merry Christmas to all.

Joanne 4 justice.
1 year ago

Christmas is the greatest birthday of all! It’s HIS BIRTHDAY ………BABY JESUS – THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD !

1 year ago

Considering the quality (or none) of many so-called educators today, it is really refreshing to have educators such as this in the school systems. May God’s blessings be on all of them!

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
1 year ago

Best article of the year. Kyle L.

1 year ago

Very nice. However, the quote, “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” does not refer specifically to the Christian messiah. Below is a link to a site which supports the idea that it does refer to that, but at the bottom is a link to an Orthodox Jewish site which explains Isaiah in detail.


Bottom line, the vast majority of this article is great. However, if you’re going to use Jewish texts to support a particular view, you really should go to a Jewish source for understanding the meaning of the text.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

You really must read the Gospel of John fist chapter; the New Testament is foretold in the Old. The depth of our Christian faith is astonishing.
Many blessings to you and yours.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Good suggestion! And to give credit, where credit is due, God’s Holy Spirit is tasked to illumine our understanding of the scriptures and blesses all who are, heart and soul, open to their reading.

Joanne 4 justice.
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Jesus is jehovah Mekadishkum and the Jewish people are the chosen people of .. God !

Sharon K Trampe
1 year ago

Beautiful article. I posted it on my Facebook page. Merry Christmas!!

robert w campbell
1 year ago

merry christmas to all.the really big thing is the cradle and the tome are empty!!

R.J. from Arizona
1 year ago

What a wonderful article, and right now it was needed.
Hope each of you has a wonderful and safe Christmas.

1 year ago


1 year ago

I’ll add my amen to this. I am hoping that 2022 is the year we return to the truths of what really was the reason for the miraculous event that occurred over 2000 years ago in the little town of Bethlehem.

Joanne 4 justice.
1 year ago
Reply to  Howard

Amen and God Bless all ! God Bless , And save America ! In God we trust !

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