As a child, one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season was when mom & dad would bundle all six kids up, load us into the station wagon, and head through town to view the Christmas lights. This simple, unobtrusive, inexpensive holiday tradition paved the way for a similar tradition long after I grew up, moved away, and started a family of my own.
Since we live in the country, there aren’t a lot of neighbors or well-populated streets adorned with lighting displays close by. But thankfully Branson, MO goes all out when it comes to decorating for Christmas! And it’s an easy drive. So we throw on a jacket, grab some hot cocoa, and head to Branson’s Gift of Lights.
Ever have those moments when you’re moved…truly moved…that words escape you? Maybe it’s a chance encounter with a dear friend or a stranger that you connect with; maybe it’s the nostalgia of a favorite song you haven’t heard in years, or a philosophical conversation out of the blue, or a photo that stirs a memory…We had a series of those moments as we drove through Branson’s Gift of Lights.
First, for me, the nostalgia of hearing the oooo’s and ahhh’s from the kids in the backseat was so reminiscent of the exclamations my siblings and I made all those years ago. It definitely took me back to a happy, comforting place with no worry…just complete joy.
When we pulled over to watch the light display of the nativity, accompanied by a narrative on a local radio station, we had another moment, a humbling moment filled with wonder and praise as the story of our Savior was told. This particular display captivated us enough to stay a little longer to hear the story a second time. Then we drove on, renewed by the resounding story of the birth of Christ…
…and we came upon the 12 Days of Christmas! Immediately the whole carload burst into song. That was fun!
As we drove on, I noticed amongst the brilliance of the LED lights and numerous displays, just a few dark patches. And I had what Oprah refers to as an “AHA! Moment”: the parallel of the dark and light on that hillside to the dark and light in our own lives gave me pause. Without those dark times, the shining moments wouldn’t be so brilliant. Without dark, there can’t be light. Our Pastor and others have said it before, but it hit me right then – I got it. I saw it on the hillside and I couldn’t help but breathe a little prayer of thanks for the Light all around us, even in dark times.
As we came to the end of the display and I looked around at all the happy faces, eyes aglow, big grins…I heard playful banter and felt joy in my heart. Now that’s a gift. Thank you Branson’s Gift of Lights for setting the tone for a Joyful and Merry Christmas!