Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The (Imperfect) Christmas Lights

Yesterday, we did the majority of our Christmas decorating. As a retired couple with no young resident children to regale, our decorations are sparse. The four-foot tree came back up from the basement and was installed on top of the Barbie piano so it would make its appearance to the outside world. A few more ornaments were added so that it wasn’t a totally Charlie Brown tree. And two three-light candelabra were added on either side. A rather festive appearance after all.

Alas, there was a problem. When we plugged in the tree lights, only about a third of them were burning. I suspect I know exactly where the problem is as I immediately spotted a socket without a full bulb inserted. And the light in the middle of one of the candelabra is also missing. So now the challenge is to find where I stored the extra bulbs.

However, this experience made me stop and think about our families. The comparisons were both encouraging and troubling.

So many of our families have portions of the string that aren’t presently lit. They are still beloved. They are still connected to the rest of us, hopefully through eternal covenants. But for some reason, their lights just aren’t currently burning.

Discouraging, right? Still, are we mourning so much over those sections that we fail to see and fully appreciate those which are burning brightly? I’ve heard it’s not unusual for the children whose sibling is struggling to resent all the attention the parents give that child in the effort to regain and maintain equilibrium. While we all recognize that the child in danger is naturally the focus of attention, we should not forget to nourish those who are presently a little safer, still a little further from the precipice.

Of course, all analogies break down at some point. While I can go look for the necessary bulbs and replace them at my volition, it’s not so easy with eternal beings whose agency must be respected.

Until that agency—that precious, essential, terrifying prerogative—leads our children back through their own choices, all we can do is see to it that the current of love and support continues to flow to them. However, at the same time, we should do all we can to ensure that all the lights are receiving that current of love and support.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go look for the replacement bulbs. Passersby may not fully appreciate the lesson of the imperfect Christmas lights.


  1. Thank you Lorraine, Once again your chosen words of wisdom has touched my heart and opened my eyes to things once forgotten.

  2. this is very insightful. Thanks!