I’m always the one who puts the lights on the tree. The task used to fall to my mom, but once I got old enough to have an eye for that sort of thing, I took over. I wanted it to be me hanging the light.
I play Christmas music and I start with garden shears. Giving myself a hand cramp, I squeeze the shears and bite off the branches that are going limp or yellow. Then I sit back on my heels and size up the crowded mess of fir, deciding where to make holes.
Needles fall thick. Sections of the trunk appear. It seems wrong to trim perfectly good branches but the tree is so stuffed with green that there’s no room for light. I can’t hang the lights until there’s enough emptiness for them to fill.
The tree looks hurt when I finish. The holes I’ve made stare at me accusingly. I start unwinding the strand of yellow lights and twisting them around branches. I cluster light in the holes I made, all the way up the tree. My hands get splotchy with sap. When I’m finished, I step back.
The once-bare places shine.
“and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?” -Herman Melville
Light cannot enter us until there’s enough emptiness for it to fill; until we are scraped empty and trimmed bare.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9