One of my favourite things about Christmas time is the lighting displays that materialise around the neighbourhoods. The twinkly, sparkly decorations that light up the night sky in December help my mind know that Christmas is just around the corner.
There is one particularly famous street in Melbourne that has been a drawcard for lovers of Christmas cheer ever since a number of the houses started the tradition of decorating in the 1950s. The Boulevard in Ivanhoe is a Christmas phenomenon. Traffic is forced to drive down the street one way for the two weeks officially mandated Boulevard Christmas Festival days.
Signs are erected on the freeway near the exit closest to the street to warn of extensive nightly traffic delays. Every spare parking space nearby is occupied as many thousands of family members choose to take in the experience on foot. Street vendors sell glow sticks and refreshments, buskers are spotted along the route and the buzz around the event is of fun and community.
As you observe these (and other) light displays you can distinguish a couple of schools of thought at work. One is that ‘more is good, and even more is better’. There seems to be no recognisable theme to any of the lights; in fact some displays can look as if a Christmas lighting truck has exploded in the front yard.
Then there are the minimalist decorators, who basically open the curtains to the window where their decorated Christmas tree is. Some have snow scenes, some have nativities, some have Santa’s sleigh pulled by kangaroos.
My favourite lighting displays are ones that tell some sort of story. You can see a level of thought and imagination has gone into all the fun details. These are the displays which can take you on a magical journey—and often have the largest crowds for the longest time.
In the Bible, the Gospel of John (chapter 8, verse 12) tells us that Jesus said “I am the light of the world” and this is why light is such an appropriate symbol for Christmas—the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
His birth was announced with light in the form of a star that brought the wise men from the east to honour him (Matthew chapter 2, verse 2). The darkness the shepherds were sitting in out in the fields was transformed when the angels shared the good news of Jesus’ birth (Luke chapter 2, verse 9).
This Christmas, as I embrace the beauty of the light displays I see in my local community, I am going to remember the ‘Light of the World’ who was sent to this Earth all those years ago.
Together, may you and I also bring light to the world this Christmas.