Why our family waits to plug in the Christmas lights


As we’re in the throes of the pre-Christmas season, my little house in rural Nova Scotia is surrounded by brightly-lit homes, many of which are really quite impressive. We were surprised when we moved out this way how many houses put up lights on our street. It brings some extra joy to the season, I think. Last night actually we took the long way home to soak it all in.

That being said, I explained before how Jenna and I really feel it’s important to observe Advent, and hold off on Christmas until Christmas.

People have different ways of observing Advent, and I know that the Vatican has already lit up its tree. But I’ve always felt that Christmas lights were an important symbol of the season, so we’ve held off right until the very end.

I explained our approach to this at LifeSite a few years back. I thought it would be a good time to put it out there again.


Why we wait to plug in the Christmas lights

Many of us enjoy taking drives around our communities at this time of year to take in the often magnificent displays of Christmas lights.  This is our first Christmas in our first house, so we were pretty excited to put lights up.  About three weeks ago we bought our first set, and to my 20-month-old’s great excitement, I got on the ladder and started stringing them from the gutters.  I tied some boughs to the porch and wrapped lights around them.  Then we hung the wreath on the front door.

But after briefly testing them, I pulled the cord.

We, like everyone else, put up lights to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit.  But we just weren’t ready to get in the Christmas spirit.

Downtown Denver Christmas Lights 3Christmas lights are a symbol of Christ, the Light of the World.  Christ, as pro-lifers are keenly aware, became Man nine months before Christmas at the Annunciation.  He lay hidden, nurtured in His mother’s womb, known only to His parents and those around them.  At Christmas the glory of this infant King was revealed to all from His lowly stable in Bethlehem.

The angels rejoiced and the sky was lit up across the known world by the Star of Bethlehem, proclaiming to all – Jew and Gentile – the arrival of the Saviour.  It was this spectacular light that beckoned the three wise men to come pay homage to the new King.  They knelt before Him and worshipped on behalf of all us Gentiles.

The lights of Christmas remind us that Christ has conquered the darkness and that we are now living in a time ruled by hope.

Yet even in this time of light and hope, there are seasons of darkness, times when God allows us to feel like evil has won out and He has abandoned us.  Labourers for the cause of life know this feeling.  We are confronted every day by the worst forms of death and destruction imaginable.  It can be easy to give up hope.

But we embrace this darkness as a gift from God, which He uses to strengthen our faith in Him.  When we encounter this darkness, we are forced to believe all the more strongly that it is us who have been blinded, and that Christ’s light continues to shine in all its brightness.

It’s important to my family that we fully celebrate Advent, dedicating this time to prepare for Christ’s coming.  We prepared the lights, but embraced a time of darkness.  Just as Christ was hidden and burst forth in all His glory at Christmas, so our lights remain dark until Christmas.  We believe that this waiting will make the lights shine all the brighter.

Likewise, the darkness of our age merely radiates Christ’s glory all the more as His followers are called to ever greater holiness.  Though Christ’s birth brought with it the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, His radiance only shone more brightly as they were raised to the height of martyrdom.

Republished with permission from LifeSiteNews.com.


3 comments on “Why our family waits to plug in the Christmas lights

  1. Fr. Ronald Cairns says:

    Hi Patrick, Jenna and little ones!

    It is wonderful that you are striving to live-out Advent with the scriptures and the Church, difficult to do in this age. We do have lights in advent, on the wreath, humble lights of promise, of waiting and as you say of pregnant hope.

    I too have enjoyed just driving around and viewing the lights and displays and choose to see them as anticipatory, outward festive signs to welcome the child; perhaps a little modesty/humility could serve the faith well, save the big stuff for Christmas season. But then for many the season has been shrunk down to two days… and then back at it.

    Praying God grant you and your beautiful family many graces at the humble dwelling place of the divine child

    • Patrick Craine says:

      That’s a good point, Father, about the Advent candles. Obviously I oughtn’t overstate the darkness of the season, then. Would you say perhaps that the light of Advent is more like that of a vigil?

      I’ve read that there is a tradition for Christmas Eve of reciting the Christmas Proclamation from the Roman Martyrology, and then lighting the tree.

      • Fr.Ronald Cairns says:

        Yes, advent is like a protracted vigil. In fact the prayer we are practicing here at St. Catherine’s during the season, is a prayer of ‘Watching’; a bit of a take-off on the monastic tradition of rising in the night and waiting/watching. It is this expectant waiting in silence by the small light of faith and its promise that typifies advent in a lovely and counter-culture fashion.

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