Every year in December, my Mom would bring out the “Christmas Lamp” to mine and my siblings excited delight. The vintage 1957 Econolite motion lamp, pictured here, is a paper lantern sitting on a base with a light bulb. Between the light and the lantern is a metal cylinder with slits in it that hangs from the top on a metal pin. The heat of the light bulb makes the cylinder spin, which makes it look like it’s snowing. Because our family had the lamp before I was born, I have never known the holidays without it. As a kid, I thought the lamp was magical! In addition, the lamp signified that Christmas was coming!
When the lamp was unveiled each year, we knew what would follow in the weeks ahead. We would enjoy extra-special homemade cakes, pies, cookies and candy; lots of family and friends visiting; house parties where the adults would play cards upstairs and the kids danced in the basements; snow ice cream on really lucky years; cutting down a cedar tree from the back woods and using the extra branches to make wreaths and yule logs with holly berries; and finally, Christmas morning with stockings and a gift from Santa.
When you grow up in a tiny house with six siblings, you are hardly ever alone. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We always joked that we grew up a close family because there was no room to be anything else! I loved the noise, energy and chaos, but all of that made the elusive quiet moments very special too.
One of my most cherished memories is sharing the magic of the Christmas lamp with my brother, Dwayne, when we were very young. Some nights after everyone went to bed, we would get up in the dark, go to the living room and turn on the lamp. Dwayne was two years older than me, a bit of a rascal on the outside, but the sweetest soul you’d ever meet on the inside. He would take the lamp down from the desk and place it on the floor so we could see it better. Dwayne never let me touch the lamp back then because he said, if anything happened to it, it would be his fault and he would take the blame. He was my hero. I remember we would lie on the floor side by side, watching the snow come down, sometimes in silence, sometimes wondering aloud what it would be like to ride on the horse-drawn sleigh, or imagining the bold adventures we would find if the horses carried us away to far off lands. We were drawn in by the light, and I remember feeling safe, loved and happy in those moments and excited for the days to come.
Today, as an adult, I can honestly say the Christmas lamp makes me feel the very same way. I still believe in its magic! I love to watch the lamp “snowing” in the dark, reminiscing of family Christmases as a child long ago and gratefully anticipating how we will celebrate Christmas with family and friends in the present. Now that I’m older, I focus too on the church painted in the winter scene and how His light draws me in, which brings me immense joy and peace. The Christmas lamp is a beacon of light in our family, just as Christ is the light of the world and a beacon of hope for all who believe in Him.
Today, the world needs the light of Jesus Christ more than ever. Matthew 5:14-16 tells us that we are to be “the light of the world” ourselves by reflecting His light. If we let God’s light shine through us, we may practice more patience and forgiveness, listen to the voiceless, spend time helping those in need and teaching others about the birth of Jesus. I pray that we all radiate His love this holiday season and spread joy and kindness to everyone we meet.
Merry Christmas! ♥