This year, the neighbours are slow in lighting up their houses with outdoor Christmas lights. The neighbour across the street sold his house, and unlike him, the new owners have eschewed lighting up the night – so far. There was a brief article in The Sun a couple of days ago about the chairman of BC Hydro stating he was not going to light up the outside of his family home in an effort to conserve electricity. Reading this article over breakfast caused a spirited discussion with my mate over the necessity to change expected traditions to be more in step with increasingly more conservationist living in the suburbs. We have a family tradition on the eve of the Winter Solstice. We light oil lamps and sit around the fire in the wood-burning fireplace and tell stories of earlier times in our lives and those of our friends when we all discussed various aspects of life and also plans for the upcoming warm seasons. Some discuss plans for their gardens, others mull over ways of doing things differently, and in unexpected, more engaged manner. It is good to sit hunkered down in sweaters and slippers; purify the air with burning sage and sprinkles of water; remember, plan and anticipate life in the coming year; sing songs; tease each other and share laughter.
Lighting up the neighbourhood is not a necessary reminder of the passing of seasons, nor of the hope of seasonal renewal. There are small ways of doing this, personally, thoughtfully and very simply. This week I am drying sage, cleaning house and getting ready for the Solstice celebration at home. There will be light – but it will be inside and intimate.