Holding onto the holy night


By Jessica Brodie

You know how sometimes ideas seem so perfect when they form in your head, but then when it comes time to do them, real life gets in the way?

We had a bunch of family in town recently, so that Saturday night, I thought it would be a wonderful idea for all of us to head out for pizza and then go see Christmas lights. The kids outnumbered the adults, but did that factor into my glorious plan? Not in the least! Bellies full, we all piled into two SUVs and headed over to the Hite house to watch their amazing annual Christmas display.

The Hites are a local family in my town whose Christmas light show involves more than 100,000 lights on the house and in the yard, all manually synchronized to music. They collect donations and give one hundred percent to the South Carolina Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, so not only is it a great lead-in to Advent but also a feel-good experience.

The girls were in one car, the boys in another, and we’d parked right in front of the house, turned off our car lights as requested, tuned our radio to the proper station, and snuggled in, ready to watch the spectacle.

It was beautiful, just as we’d expected! The colors, the sounds, the cozy hum of the car motor, all lulling us into the tranquility of the season. After the frenzy of the grocery stores, the steam of our Thanksgiving kitchen, and the rush of Black Friday, it felt so good to cuddle in the darkness and hear Christmas carols with family. I felt the tension of the last few days begin to melt away….

And then, from the backseat, came a small voice: “I wanna go home.”

A few minutes later, a different small voice: “I’m borrrrred.”

And then the hardest to ignore: “I hafta go to the bafff-room.”

I turned up the music, gave my let’s-pretend-I-didn’t-hear-that sigh.

There’s a verse in the Gospel of John that pops into my head remembering this scene: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 NIV).

Now, I’m not saying my sweet daughters and nieces are The Darkness or anything remotely sinister. But bear with me for a moment. See, in that instant, it kind of felt like the world (in the form of griping preschoolers and kids in need of potty breaks) was trying to overpower all that was holy and bright about that evening. Picture us there, so content, so quiet, all huddled in the car basking in the lovely Christmas lights, interrupted suddenly by the clamor of complaints. Pesky, worldly complaints.

I wanted to ignore them. My peace-of-mind needed to ignore them.

But, well.

Let’s just say potty breaks and my car don’t exactly mesh.

I reached out my hand to Bored One, pointed to the pretty lights. “Do you like?”

She nodded grumpily.

I turned to Full Bladder One, ruffled her hair. “Think you can hold it a few more minutes until this song is over?”

She shrugged her OK.

We sat in the quiet night as the carols swept over us and the lights sparkled on our skin, lost for a moment in the magic. And then we drove home.

No, darkness didn’t win. It never does.

Merry Christmas, friends. May you find moments of holy joy squirreled away even in the chaos.

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