Reds-greens-yellows-oranges-blues gladdened my fir tree, set up in my glass-enclosed porch to keep at bay winter’s pitchy assault where nothing lives. Happily, my neighbors also enlarged this show with shimmering pinpricks outlining their homes, with pine ropes framing doorways, with candlelight warming windows, with inflatable Santas drawing wonder from young and old alike, with crèches quickening believers.

Weeks of almost unbearable darkness passed. Yet each evening, lights dazzled the fainthearted and mesmerized the seeker and nurtured the patient.

However, with the incremental whisper of daylight came the imperative to shake free from doldrums and stash away the lightshows for another year.

Nine Christmases have passed since I first dismantled this tree, each one filled with long thoughts of the mystery surrounding us. Light is never vanquished by darkness; it does return. Yet both simmer with deep lessons, moving us into the next twenty-four hours with its challenges. Staying vigilant, receptive, and grateful is critical. There’s always more to learn and we’ve plenty of help!