Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2000

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / December 16, 2000

I like Christmas lights. I like picking up my wife from work and taking a long,long drive through the neighborhoods to admire the creativity and hard work involved in an elaborate holiday yard adornment.

I enjoy the light displays in New Orleans’ City Park and have even passed by when Al Copeland had his massive light displays. It’s a lot of hard work andcommitment and energy. Just don’t ask me to do it.Of course, not having children does make it easier. I don’t have to buy thosewooden yard cartoon things and pile Santas and reindeer and elves all over the yard, roof and eaves. My trees aren’t stuffed with outdoor holiday lightsand my yard isn’t criss-crossed with electric wires.

This year, I haven’t yet put up my string of lighted icicles. My Christmas treeis a three-foot-high steel tree which folds out and screws into a heavy base that not even the cats can knock over.

My wife likes it that way. We’ve had 10-foot trees which overwhelmed ourliving room and vacuumed needles for weeks. We’re tired of it.Our Christmas card display is rapidly filling up and we’ve actually sent out our holiday cards. I still have a bundle of work-related cards to send, but I plan todo that Monday.

Hey, better late than never! I’ve seen some incredible yard displays, though, which not only overwhelmed the house in question, but linked with the neighbors on each side and even across the street. There’s a few places I could name where, block afterblock, the night is lit up in a dazzling display of dozens of houses. It’s Santaoverload.

But don’t ask me to drag out a ladder and climb all over my roof, risking life and limb and electrocution, to hang a holiday display which will be up only a few weeks before I have to take it all down again.

Am I a Grinch? Who knows? I’ve never even read that book (or any other Dr.

Seuss, for that matter).

But I think that if I and all of us can keep as our top priority that Light which comes from within us and from above, shining for the rest of the year, I can afford to skip on a few plastic Santas.

After all, this Light is free and not only lights our own way, but also the way for everyone else. While some may spend money on massive yard displays, afew will remember the poor, the hungry and the needy in this holiday period and set aside some of that same money for their good.

Maybe a visit to a shelter or to a lonely person in a nursing home or just to end an old family dispute in the holiday spirit will make everyone’s holiday just a little bit brighter, without the use of mega-kilowattage.

Maybe we can just try to be a little bit nicer, more patient and more interested and caring with each other. It’s worth a try.It’s the Christmas season. Let’s remember that real, true Light, and keep itshining all year long.

LEONARD GRAY is a reporter for L’Observateur.

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