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Random Blog: A Tradition of Christmas Lights

My preacher dad once said of Easter that it's wonderful to dress up in bright new clothes in order to celebrate the resurrection from the dead. I feel like we could say similarly of Christmas lights that they are a joyous celebration of Christ's birth.

Here is a picture of my yard this year. There are always new tweaks every year. Gone this time are the candle lights that lined my front walk for literally decades; they finally died. New are lights borrowed from my late mother's supply, as well as two new inflatables, Yukon Cornelius and Baby Bumble, to go with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Do you display Christmas lights? Tell me about them in the comments below!

It's gratifying to know that our lights make an impact in our neighborhood. People frequently tell me how much they enjoy our lights. Two examples:

  • A couple walking their dogs yesterday stopped to chat as I was repairing part of the display. They commented on their favorite items and especially relished the beauty of the manger.

  • A grandmother was walking with her 3-year-old grandson recently. I could hear them as I sat in my office near the front of the house. The little boy was curious about all the characters; the grandmother promised they would come back at night to see how it looked all lit up. She pointed out the different characters in the manger scene, including baby Jesus and the angel.

Even though I love Christmas lights and invest hours in decorating each year, I didn't feel that way as a kid. My dad had the same passion for Christmas lights and wanted me to help him in the yard. I wanted to play instead of helping, so I didn't fully appreciate them until I had my own place.

My father was handy as a carpenter and made some of his own decorations, such as carolers and manger scenes. In the small towns where we lived, there were Christmas light contests, and it was a rare year when we didn't place. The most famous manger characters he made were sheep. He took old dry cleaning bags and tore them into small pieces, arranged by color, to simulate the wool on the pegboard cutout. I guess the effect was realistic enough. One year, the neighbor's dog repeatedly got loose and would come to our yard to bark at the sheep!

My father's father was just as detailed with Christmas lights, always with a grand display, always with decorations he made himself. The most famous was Santa in a rocket! He built a rocket with Santa leaning out the window as it blasted off, and the gathered reindeer looking startled as Santa made his Christmas Eve run without them!

My wife Sara has her favorite Christmas TV shows, the animated kind. I like them, too, but the seasonal show I like the best is "The Great Christmas Light Fight" on ABC each Monday. Four families from across the US show their yard displays that are simply out of this world. For example, in the two shows I've seen so far, there was a gingerbread house theme, a theme of department store window displays, and an incredible high tech display by an engineer who recycled plastic bottles and used his 3D printer to create characters that he animated.

When I watch that show, I get inspired to do something new next year, but really, I don't invest the crazy time that these families do. Nor do I have the skills they have. As always, I think, maybe next year. But to create anything ambitious, I would have to start, like, now!

So I'll settle for my lit-up yard and the displays of nearby neighborhoods that could probably enter "The Great Christmas Light Fight" as a group.

No matter what I place in my yard, I always make sure to have a manger scene reminding viewers of Christ's birth. Because even though lights and displays are fun and beautiful, the reason for the season always comes back to celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I'm excited to say that I have seen the proof (actual printed book) of my upcoming book, Live Like You're Loved. I hope to hear in the coming days when the book will be available from the printer. You can pre-order the book now at

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