National Commentary

Light It Up This Season!

What has struck me most about driving around my neighborhood on December 1 of this most momentous and memorable year of 2020 was the amount of colorful, beaming and blinking holiday decorations that are already out and smiling at the world.

Yes, they’ve come in full force much earlier than usual and I expect it is just the start of a trend. Indeed, I feel it.

I want to jump in on this, too. I’ve always done my part in at my condo, stringing some lights, putting a wreath on the front door and, of course, finding an appropriately-sized tree for friends and myself to enjoy inside.

But this year it’s not nearly so much about what’s inside, in that all too familiar space that all of us in quarantine have grown so amazingly familiar with.

Even lights and a tree and a creche won’t mean nearly so much this year as efforts to go outside and orchestrate a glorious message to the outside world.

Don’t you agree? That’s what I am seeing happening all over town even as early as it is now.

We’ve all been so cooped up this year. We’ve all been so besieged by this horrible, horrible president who just won’t go away even though he has lost the election, and by a lot.

Oh my God, this man is the menace that causes us to think that we must have done something extremely wrong in our lives to deserve. Getting his image out of our minds is going to take years, and if he is doing all the crap he’s up to now only to raise $180 million from some of the solar system’s most gullible and tragic persons to run again in four years, then we won’t be done with him until, oh Lord. Have mercy on us.

So, it is easy to see how glorious holiday cheer is a way to cleanse our otherwise deeply polluted consciousnesses. The images of Size 5X soiled trousers (Do you know how incontinent he really is? You don’t want to know) beneath a basketball-sized wad of silly putty, aka a head, grimacing beneath a red baseball cap wandering through a golf course, ugh, can best be countered with many a lighted angel and big Santa with reindeer. Extra bright.

So, actually, it is not just to put away the images of the Hall of Crimson Holiday Tree Death that Melania fashioned for the White House the last couple of Decembers (mercifully, not this time). But it is actually because there is really quite a bit of positive news to drive our trips to the hardware store, our risky treks up the ladder and our never-before-tested limits to wattage on our front porches and lawns this year.

Actually, I am banking on the fact that a lot of real, true joy and happiness is operating beneath all the decorating this season. This would be such balm in Gilead, such an unintended consequence, such a serendipity of the sorts our good old school preachers dished out like over-buttery holiday cookies to the flock every Saturday or Sunday of this bracing season.

People, we need a glad season of joy this month.

After all, for all the horrors of the past year, and face it, they cannot be undone, for all the terrible, terrible news of George Floyd events and caged children at our borders, the news before us is the imminent vaccine, achieved not because of but despite of all this, a new U.S. administration that will restore sanity to our corridors of power and work to get emergency assistance where it is needed most to us.

This will not be heaven, but compared to what we’ve faced for the better part of 2020, it will be close enough for now.

Go ahead. Let’s make our neighborhoods look a little more like heaven this year.

Let’s end 2020 entirely unlike it began, or became. That TV commercial picturing a home so lit up it can be seen by an astronaut in space is what this is about.

And if it’s not what’s on the outside of a house, how about inside in our hearts.

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]