As darkness approaches the Northern Hemisphere, nations turn to celebrations of light. Light for many symbolises triumph over evil, hope over despair. It is the star role in holidays around the world. There’s Diwali in India, Bala Chaturdashi in Nepal, Nowruz in Iraq, Hogmannay in Scotland, Hanukkah for those of the Jewish faith and Imbolc for the Celts.
Here on Grand Cayman, the shimmering Christmas trees, lights on the roundabouts and miles of lit palm trunks brighten up our early nights.
Perhaps the brightest lights are in children’s eyes as they count down the days to their family’s particular festival. My family’s happens to be Christmas, but it shares the same symbols with those of many nations’ holidays: light represents triumph over evil and hope over despair.
Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ child and the hovering star in the darkness that marked it, but somehow that gets tangled up with an old saint called Nicolas who brings gifts. We managed to entwine the two in our household. We celebrated good over evil with the coming of Christ and used it to our benefit with the coming of Santa.
The old song says, “He’s making a list, and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.”… Well, right there is a perfect way to improve kids’ behaviour — at least for one month of the year.
It’s all fun and games for the kids until Santa checks the naughty list kept by crafty parents. However, just as carefully as we worked on the naughty list, the kids worked on keeping it naughty neutral. I recall hearing crying in the distance as our four-year-old son Otis raced into the kitchen, hands on hips declaring, “If something happened to Sam, I wasn’t there, and it was an accident, so I didn’t do it.” As with the courts, a parent actually has to have evidence of wrongdoing when keeping a naughty list.
The workup/countdown to Christmas was almost more than our kids could endure. We found those handy chocolate Advent calendars were helpful managing the question “How many sleeps?” That is until one of the kids ate all the chocolate behind the little flaps. No culprit stepped forward for fear of an empty sock on the big day.
Even when they knew that the man in red didn’t fly through the sky to deliver the stuff, they pretended, fearing their disbelief would result in underwear in their stocking.
Of course they eventually did grow up, but their delight in the lights of the season never wavered. The lights for us spark the joy that the holiday brings.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”