I don’t always associate Christmas with chestnuts roasting, bells jingling, or merry gentlemen resting. What I do associate with Christmas is lights – net lights, icicle lights, rope lights, fairy lights – strung across windows and doors, in gardens and trees. In hallways. In living rooms. In kitchens and studies. Sometimes even in bathrooms.
When I was a child I knew Christmas was coming when the clusters of lights began to appear in windows up and down my street. I got excited when I saw Mrs. McAllister take down her heavy net curtains and string lights in the shape of stars across her windows instead. I could see those stars from my bedroom window flashing red, gold and blue – marvellous, magnificent and so glorious that they surely must have been lighting the way to the castle of the Snow Queen herself, turning the dark, dull road into a path made of crystals.
When I was a child I was entranced by the delicate, mellow sheen of fairy lights. I became convinced that such tiny lights must surely be powered by stars and spent hours conjuring up ways the power could be transferred from the skies to the earth. I decided that the only foolproof method was threads made of gossamer soaked in stardust and carried by fireflies.
When I was a child sometimes still worried by the dark, Christmas was a kind of relief. All those nights full of lights meant there wasn’t much to worry about in the shadows.
I still love Christmas lights. A room with a Christmas tree propped like an old friend, branches bedecked with lights that suffuse every corner with a warm-hearted glow and ornaments collected joyfully through the years is like a little piece of heaven.
It’s exciting to wait for the dark; the purpleness of the hot summer nights. The shadows slide to the ground and you hold your breath knowing what is coming. And there it is, there they are – appearing like wishes and sighs of delight. One after the other they burst through the dark, turning the Christmas nights light.