Holiday light

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2004

I have almost finished my Christmas shopping and have a good start on my holiday decorating.

I wonder what is wrong with me this year.

I am usually rushing around trying to fit in all the demands that the holidays bring. I am sure


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I have left out something important I need to do.

There has to be some party I have to prepare for, dozens of cookies I need to bake.

There must be some special present for a child that requires standing in line at 5:30 a.m. and fighting with harried parents and grandparents to get my prize from the limited

stock of the coveted toy.

There must be something I have left off my schedule

of commitments for church and family, community and charitable organizations.

Where is the child that has to be shuttled to band concerts, Christmas plays, friends’ parties?

Where are the cadre of friends and colleagues clamoring

for my attendance and participation at more events than I can possibly fit into

a year, much less a month of weekends?

Then it dawns on me.

I am experiencing Holiday Light!

This concept was first brought to my attention in the 70’s by a co-worker named Ellen. She was an energetic woman in her

fifties who looked like Bill Cosby in a skirt. One day in December, as I was leaving work and

checking my list of places I had to go between jumping in my car and jumping into bed, Ellen said, &uot;Whoa, girl!&uot;

Now, Ellen was almost six feet tall and commanded respect for her wisdom and her ability to subdue men twice her size. So, when she said &uot;Whoa&uot;, I stopped.

Ellen went on to explain to me the concept of Holiday Light.

Some of us have

more than we think we can possibly do.

We have Holiday Heavy.

What burdened folks do not realize is what a joyous privilege it is to be so needed and to have an opportunity to spread holiday cheer and love to the many we encounter.

We also have an obligation to allow less burdened people to share the joy and

help us lighten our load so we can enjoy this exciting time of our lives.

Ellen went on to explain she was in the Holiday Light period of her life, when children are grown and friends prefer small quiet holiday gatherings that require less preparation and no baby sitters. Now was her time to relax a little and really see,

through a filter of calm and quiet contemplation, the beautiful things that the holidays bring. Now was her time to lighten the load of others, to find ways to bring the special warmth and light of the holiday season to those who were harried and lonely and yearning for beauty.

She picked up several projects for me that allowed me to have a day off.

Because she shared her wisdom and shined her light my way, I was able to better enjoy the busy season.

There have been a lot of holiday lights in my life: mothers who car-pooled, friends who shared my joys and comforted me during holidays when I experienced loss, my mother who was always available with whatever support I needed, and two widowed great-aunts who watched my children the first Saturday in December from sun-up to sundown so I could do my Christmas shopping. There were lights that shown even brighter during this season of love, my husband whose optimism and cheerfulness made life an adventure, and my children who brightened each of the days they were with me.

Many of these lights, including Ellen,

no longer flicker on this earth, but I remember them with gratitude and the glow of their many acts of love and kindness stays with me through the season.

So now I am in Holiday Light, my time to relax a little and let the season’s beauty seep into my consciousness instead of letting the season’s activity erode my sleep and expose my frayed nerves. I see the bell-ringers for the Salvation Army, the announcements for the Cheer Fund, hometown heroes like Jim Parr who literally gives his blood to save others,

firemen, policemen and city councilmen, who do their best to make this a town where folks can be safe and enjoy life.

I know I could list many more examples of local holiday lights, but I just remembered five things I need to get done before tomorrow.

Ellen never said that the season seems lighter as your memory grows dimmer.

I wish she were here to ask about that.

B.J. Outlaw lives in Suffolk and writes an occasional column for the News-Herald.