On Holiday Lights

This is our 5th day of cold and clouds and not melting snow. The days and nights of December need lights, and I’ve never realized it more than during this cold spell! Staying inside a lot, I catch myself looking out, and glimpsing, (or staring at) the simple clear, and lush lights of Turner Park, or a neighbor’s lit up Christmas tree in a condo window, always a delight!

Some of the park lights that I look out at.
Corner condo dwellers’ Christmas trees, Dec. 2020

I tend toward moderation and simplicity. Less is more, to me.

Here’s something I wrote on December 22, 2015:

Today, I read an essay in OUR IOWA magazine about a Californian recalling her growing up days in small town Iowa (Red Oak). She wrote about how, at Christmas-time, she could see the town square from her grandma’s 2nd floor apartment, and how they sat there at 5 PM to see the very first Christmas light come on, and then all of them, the reds, yellows, blues and greens.

An image flashed through my mind of Breda, Iowa’s (population 500) downtown holiday lights strung across the street, row after row. It was very simple, yet so effective against the night sky. I loved it then, and I LOVE thinking about it now!

Contrast that with the fancy, flashy light displays—which are very special really for their once a year occurence—in retail areas and home neighborhoods, or such as The Holly Jolly Lights in Des Moines, (a drive through fundraiser for Make A Wish). All very nice, but maybe trying just a little too hard.

This week, 2020, I searched online for a historical photo of those lights in Breda, and Carroll, IA, and in Omaha, with no success. So, I did a quick little watercolor sketch to express what I’m missing.

Still searching for Christmas lights like these.
Here it is! The magnificent simplicity of Breda, Iowa’s holiday lights on Main St.
Photo by my cousin, Virginia Kennebeck, Dec. 2020.

Enjoy the brilliance, whatever kind, and wherever you are!

Merry Christmas,


3 thoughts on “On Holiday Lights

  1. I enjoyed reading this so much Shirley! I love the old-fashioned colored Christmas lights. Funny…..Andy and I were reminiscing the other day about the Christmas lighting we grew up with. He remembers the Christmas lights that would bubble up the center and I remember the birghtly colored bulbs. Oh, the wonderful childhood memories when Christmas was magical! And yes, simplicity is always best! Thank you for sharing your beautiful watercolor sketch too! I love it!


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