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Joy To The World In Lights

With all due respect to Oglebay Park and its million or so LEDs in dozens of beautiful displays, the reason for the season is on glorious, if private, display elsewhere.

Take a drive this evening, virtually anywhere in the valley. At some point, you’ll be nearly blinded by a private home Christmas light display.

You know the ones: Thousands of lights, with strings of them draped over every object in sight. There are reindeer and Santa Clauses, angels and candy canes, snowmen and lighted Christmas trees. Some people go for the huge inflatable, illuminated displays. Others stick to old-fashioned strings of lights.

There aren’t that many of them, of course, but every town has a few.

What on earth are these people thinking? Are they trying to out-do the neighbors’ Christmas decorations? Put on a show of going overboard during the holidays?

I really don’t think so. There are better ways of showing off one’s extravagance, of surpassing rather than just keeping up with the Joneses.

It seems to me that those behind these mini-festivals of light are putting the reason for the season on display. Isn’t it all about exultation? After all, as the hymn “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” tells us, the angels sang in exultation at the birth of Christ.

And doesn’t the Bible tell us that the wise men were guided to Bethlehem by a star shining brightly? Did not the glory of the Lord shine around the shepherds?

Thirty years ago, movie theaters were showing the then-new “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” It was part of the series featuring the Griswold family. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll recall that a key part of the plot was Clark Griswold’s attempt to get the Christmas lights on the family home to work.

After quite a few miscues, Clark finally succeeds — frightening the 30-ish snobs who leave next door with the blinding light from his display. In the end, Clark and his family stand in the front yard, clearly deeply contented and, yes, exultant not just with Clark’s success, but with the beauty of the lights.

How better to demonstrate joy about what happened two millennia ago?

As so often is the case with things that matter, we adults tend not to be impressed as our children with the electric bill-killing Christmas lights displays. The kids ooh and ah as if they’re watching a July 4 fireworks show.

And why not? There’s real beauty in many of the displays, both collectively and, if you just slow down and look, in the details. It’s as if the artists who spent countless hours crafting their shows are using light to sing “Joy to the World.”

I think they are.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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