Christmas lights weren’t prevalent until the late 1800s— thanks to Edward Johnson (see Cheryl’s Tuesday blog post, Thank You Mr. Johnson). Celebrating Christmas and decorating Christmas trees was relegated to candlelight, which cost many their homes. Though most of us agree candlelight creates a warm, inviting atmosphere and certainly tones down the amount of dust gathering on the mantle, can you imagine trying to read after dark? What about the cost of candles? Many people had to ration candles and use them sparingly.
The absence of light means no reading. Though many women could not read, and were kept uneducated on purpose, looking back through 21st Century eyes, can you imagine a world without books? My bookcase would breathe a sigh of relief, but mercy! Knowing me, I would have been one of those women dragging a heavy cart load of books out West with an irritated husband, rolling his eyes and encouraging me to dump them out. (What a cross to bear!)
Since the dawn of time, people have gone to great lengths to nurture their minds. Abraham Lincoln nearly went blind teaching himself the law. Michelangelo lost much of his vision painting the Sistine ceiling in Vatican City, Italy. A fictional woman, too-stupid-to-live, descending basement stairs would certainly not have done so without a candle or a lantern in order to maintain footing so that a squeaky stair could alert an intruder exactly where to find her. (All together now: she’s not only stupid but she’s got a light!) Without light, ship captains would not be able to safely steer ships from one distant shore to another. (Keep an eye on that lighthouse, Captain!)
What a loss it is then when light is taken for granted. Lighting can be laughter, love, hope and faith welling within a vacant heart. The sight of colorful fireworks brightening up a night sky provides ample satisfaction while taking time out of a busy schedule to view decorated homes brings joy to any heart. Everyone’s different. Some people are drawn to city lights. And yet, others are drawn to the light coming from the television or computer screen. For centuries mankind has looked to a night sky filled with bright stars forming constellations that point to a northern star that drew wise men to a tiny babe swaddled in a manger, two thousand years ago.
Hope is light’s incalculable gift. When Edison, Tesla and Johnson, championed light for all, they took society from winter’s bleakest dark and ferried hope across the divide into every soul.
Today, I’m thinking about light and how it affects each and every one of us. As Christmas morning dawns and our loved ones flush in awe of their gifts, remember there was, is and will be only one light of the world. He came to ordain us with the gift of love and in so doing; he brought us out of darkness and into an inextinguishable light, a light of hope.
As a writer, I look to 2011 with the hope that my book will find the right home. What are you hoping for next year?