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The Evergreen Parker: Christmas Lights Fight Winter's Darkness

Evergreen Park's holiday light displays are the perfect antidote to the darkness of the shortest days of the year.

The holiday lights in my neighborhood come on slowly at first, and then with a flourish in the days after Thanksgiving. Where one might see a house decorated here and there in mid-November, by early December our street turns into a veritable outdoor light show. We have lighted reindeer, icicles hanging from eaves and gutters, light-covered bushes and lampposts wrapped with greenery and more lights. Christmas trees pop up in front windows, drawing the eye indoors to even more festive decorations.

The houses here in Evergreen Park are close enough together that the displays all play off one another, but are far enough apart that the lights don't blend together. I can stand at the south end of Springfield and look north and see that nearly every house has lights outside. It's a happy sight for a couple of reasons.

First to me it says "community." Not in a neighborhood association, the-lights-must-look-this-way style; there are enough houses with lights to know people here care about decorating, but the designs and light styles are varied to the point where you know there's no code and nobody got together and planned anything. People put up what they put up; it just happens.

Second, I find the whole tradition of holiday lights … comforting. It's like we're all fighting back against the darkness that sucks up so much of our days now. And really, why not have a festival of light at the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere?

Growing up I remember going to Christmas Eve midnight mass. Back then the priests at the church would get a dozen large Douglas Fir trees and line them up behind the altar. Then they would cover the trees with white lights. On Christmas Eve, all the lights in the church would be off except for the tree lights. That and candle light was the only illumination. I remember feeling warm and happy there, bathed in soft light singing carols in a pew so crowded you could barely move.

Here in Evergreen Park, for me nothing beats a Christmas season with snow. Yes, snow reinforces how freaking cold it is outside, but it also accentuates the outdoor lights in a way that doubles the brightness, making it seem like daytime in the middle of the night. It's like we have reclaimed the night. And when we get a really heavy snow it piles up around the reindeer and creates glowing snow mounds in the front yard of our across-the-street neighbors.

The best way to experience our village's holiday light displays is to get out and walk the neighborhoods. Sure, you can drive, but I don't think you can truly appreciate the work that goes into some of these displays from inside a car. If you can, try to visit different parts of the EP this holiday season.

Here in the southwest quadrant, many people will put up lights and outdoor displays not just at Christmas, but also for Halloween, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. But by far the most decorations, and the most elaborate decorations, are out right now. I've seen a little bit just coming and going from work, but I plan to see a lot more.

Let us know what you see. Maybe send Dan and Lorraine a photo of your display, or your favorite display that's not yours, or simply let them know where they can find these things. We all together make this quilt of holiday lights. And in that way we share our own light with one another, and add a little brightness to the dark of winter.

Merry Christmas, fellow Evergreen Parkers. And happy holidays.

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