My favorite way to start the holidays is attending Christmas tree lighting festivities. People seem inspired to kickoff holiday preparations and parties in a spirit of goodwill as they join friends and strangers to watch the tree become magical with lights.
In New York a few years ago, I walked by Rockefeller Center, disappointed that I’d be leaving and would miss the next day’s tree lighting. As I stopped to look at the darkened tree, the lights went on! I was amazed that testing the lights had happened at that moment, as if just for me.
The next day in Boston, I thought that their tree lighting had already occurred, so I walked up quiet Beacon Hill toward Boston Common to see the tree. Descending the other side, I heard voices and applause, and grew hopeful. A huge crowd was gathered and singers were on a stage. Shortly, with fanfare and cheers, the tree became aglow.
During a trip to London, I was excited to find out that the lighting at Trafalgar Square was occurring on the night we arrived. The impressive setting, enthusiastic crowd, official ceremony, singing of carols, and the illumination of the tree (an annual gift from Norway in thanks for WWII help) made this a trip highlight.
By New Year’s Eve, tree lightings seem long past. People gather to celebrate the promises of a new year. Soon lights are turned off, trees are taken away and we press on with routines, but the bright memories remain.