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Taking note: Shining bright

The wind’s powerful gusts were lending motion to tree branches, power lines, and even the festive decorations that adorned many homes in the area.

It was a frigid day, but amazingly, the sun was out. Even though it didn’t seem to provide much warmth in the face of such intense wind, it cast a clear, white light upon the freshly fallen snow.

There’s nothing quite like winter’s brand of sunshine: weak, infrequent and occasionally blinding, yet treasured due to its rarity.

At this time of year, the sun seems to be a distant memory at times, an infrequent visitor, a friend we’ve somehow just lost touch with as the year has gone on.

But soon, the sun and its light will seep slowly, yet surely, back into our daily lives.

And for now, there’s much we can do to illuminate these dark days, literally and metaphorically.

On the literal side, one of my favorite things about this time of year is all of the decorations and light displays that pop up around town.

There’s nothing quite like taking a drive or walk around the area to see all of the ways people have decorated their homes and businesses to celebrate the season.

Some offer simple beauty, with strings of lights adorning porches, columns, rooftops, and trees.

Others are elaborate displays that seem to create their own little worlds for viewers to explore.

But regardless of the complexity, these displays always bring a smile to my face.

Just looking at them brings me joy, but I always enjoy reflecting on the “hows” and “whys” of a given set of decorations.

I often think of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into these displays, the fact that someone was willing to endure the cold and fight with all those electrical cords to create something beautiful for their neighbors and passerby to enjoy.

I also like to imagine the thought process that went into creating a given display, why one person might choose to adorn their home or yard entirely in blue lights, while another person arranged a small village of festive figures outside.

Then, I find myself wondering about the origin of each household’s decorations.

When did they start the tradition, who was the visionary behind the display, who was the technical mastermind who handled all the extension cords and stubborn strings of lights?

While I’ll never know the answer to most of these questions, I still enjoy pondering the topic and reflecting upon all thought and work those holiday decorators put into their displays.

And this year, it seems that there might be more decorative displays than ever around town.

I’ll admit it, I haven’t attempted to count them this year or in years past, but it seems every street I turn down offers a wealth of lit-up trees, illuminated snowmen figures, and light-adorned eves, porches and columns.

It seems that many people want to spread light and joy after a long and challenging year, during a holiday season that’s like no other.

And these light displays are just one of the many ways people are offering opportunities for connection, joy and hope this season.

Some of the most touching and important examples come from all the people who make the holidays brighter for others through acts of service.

There are so many admirable instances of people in our community organizing free holiday meal deliveries, donating gifts and reaching out to those who might be isolated this season.

Many of these givers and organizers work long hours behind the scenes to offer love, compassion and generosity to those who have found themselves in need.

And this year, their task has not been easy, but I think all these givers have worked harder than ever to make this unusual holiday season a little brighter for everyone.

For me, all of these actions illuminate how much we can do to make these dark days brighter, all the ways we can foster a sense of belonging, community and hope.

Because that’s what this season is about: love, hope, compassion and connection. For our loved ones, for our community, for our world, for our future.

And we can celebrate that hope by creating light in the darkness, by finding ways to make life a little better for one another.

Whether it’s through helping someone in need, reaching out to someone you love, or even hanging up a string of lights for neighbors and passersby to enjoy, we can all do our part to make the world a little brighter for everyone.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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