Every year after Thanksgiving, we decorate the house for the year-end holidays. Our decorations are simple: some wreaths, a string of lights and a small display on the porch, another string of lights in the dining room, and some tinsel and ornaments on the mantelpiece in the living room.
We grew up with Christmas, so we think of our decorations as Christmas decorations. In other households they would look different and celebrate different traditions, but the similarities in spirit would remain. Many people from many traditions—or no formal tradition at all—mark the end of the year with music, special days, special food, and family gatherings. For some it is a religious occasion; for others, a special time for family. For many it is both.
Like many other families, we decorate and celebrate in good years and in bad. Even in a year of drought, storms, floods, and conflict, like the one just ending, we try to find hope for the future. So, in their own ways, do other families and other traditions.
The end of each year is a time of darkness. The days grow shorter, and the light seems to fail. In our part of the world, the weather grows colder and more dismal. Our holidays celebrate the coming of light, and with it the triumph of hope over despair, of love over hate, of community over chaos. They help us to find a way forward even when there appears to be none.
Whatever your tradition, may you bring greater light to your home and the world in the coming year.