Saturday, December 15, 2012

Merry Koda Christmas: Author Alycia Neighbours

As I pull out of my driveway, I notice the house across the street has lined their yard with impressive holiday lighting, just like last year. This year they have added twinkly lights around their door and a beautiful red bow on the mailbox. Down the street a little, another home has a stag standing proudly while a doe grazes beside him outlined in lights in the front yard next to a nativity scene lit by a spotlight.

Halfway into town, I have passed houses outlined in elegant white lights and wreaths on every window. I have seen colorful bulbs on the bushes and lit trees inside front windows that have been opened wide. Gated communities, farm houses, and apartment buildings all with the same electrical candles glowing from windows.

Stretched across the street entering the city is a banner wishing “Happy Holidays” in sparkling green foil. There are signs pointing the way to fresh Christmas trees and “Merry Christmas” scrolls across the bank marquee along with the time and temperature. Cardboard signs advertise the annual parade in big block letters with the promise of Santa’s appearance.

Everywhere I drive the decorations come into view. Strangers smile easier and stories of kindness, generosity and holiday spirit are shared more often. Traditions are followed precisely and loved ones begin the trek across the town or country to share in memories and create new tales. Cards begin to show up in the mail bearing the faces of family and friends along with the wishes of the Season.

Then I pass a plot of land dotted with stone memorials, where the air is mostly met with tears and prayers. My eye catches the glimmer of something shiny and I have just enough time before it leaves my field of view as I continue my journey to see a small Christmas tree erected beside one monument.

This is what I love about Christmas.

The decorations assure me that we have a passion that supersedes our pain. It is the thing that unites us no matter our circumstance. No matter how we might feel alone in our world, Christmas decorations put out for all to see shows us that we are here all together.

The child that carries a plate of homemade cookies in the shapes of trees and stars into their classroom for all to enjoy.

A dad that spent hours getting the strands perfect on the gutters of his home and gathers the family in the lawn to witness the “lighting.”

The employee who hangs the tinsel on the tree in the lobby and greets everyone who comes in with a hearty “Happy Holidays.”

The woman who stands beside a stone marker smiling at the little tree and the memories in her heart.

This time of year, no matter who you are, what you have endured, or what you will encounter; you only have to look around at the Christmas decorations to see that you aren’t alone. Regardless of the stories that have dominated the news of hurt, anger and injustice; stories will emerge of acts of kindness that give us hope again.

We know that as we wake on Christmas morning and watch our children, friends and family unwrap the gifts we agonized to pick, that it is more blessed to give than receive. There will be a moment of heartache as we know that not everyone had our blessings, and there are some down the road who are suffering, but we will see our own with a better clarity.

There will be many alone this year. Countless will be almost too busy, but they haven’t forgotten. Thousands will be away to sacrifice all they have for the ones left behind. Thousands of letters to Santa that aren’t asking for a toy, but rather something more heartbreaking.

There will be empty chairs around Christmas dinner, reminding us of those we lost. There will be stories from Christmas’ past that make us laugh. There will be the one gift you didn’t expect that assures you that you are important. There will be the smile across the room that reminds you that you are loved. There will be many watching the same timeless classics on the television that recalls the importance of beliefs.

Yet, every year as I drive I see the wreaths, the trees and the lights that unite us. Our hearts, our hopes and our dreams are not at all unique, and one only has to look down the road a little to see the Spirit of Christmas set up for all to enjoy.

Alycia Neighbours - Hendersonville, Tennesseee

Author of "Deciding To Dance" and "Wake Up In The Mourning"
Blog - "Diary of '...and frankly.'"
Twitter - @and_frankly
FaceBook - "Diary of '...and frankly.'"

Thank you, Alycia Neighbours for sharing your favorite things about Christmas!!!

All week authors will be sharing their thoughts and memories of Christmas! Join us in our Holiday Celebration!