WOSTER: Luminaries bring joy to long, cold winter nightsYears and years ago — so many that we can’t tell when it happened — we invested in a set of 20 luminaries for the curved railing of our front porch.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Years and years ago — so many that we can’t tell when it happened — we invested in a set of 20 luminaries for the curved railing of our front porch.
I know traditional luminaries are supposed to be candles in bags weighted down with sand or something. That would have been wonderfully quaint and pure Martha Stewart decorative.
Lighted candles in paper bags is a pretty impractical notion, though, don’t you think, when we’re talking about placing them atop a porch railing of a house located in a part of the country where the wind sometimes tears through the pillars at 40 mph or 50 mph. That’s what we thought, too.
In fact, some of us — no names mentioned — thought the whole idea was impractical. String a bunch of little lights along the porch railing, put plastic bags over them and plug the result into an outdoor socket? What’s the point, one partner in a marriage might ask the other, especially if the two partners lived in a house on the corner of two busy streets that feature kids from kindergarten through senior high walking and driving past at all hours of day and night. How long could anyone expect the luminaries to be out there before some mischievous kid decided to claim one or two for his or her own?
OK, I guess it doesn’t hurt to mention names.
Nancy was the one who thought the luminaries would be a wonderful idea. I was the one who thought we’d become a vandal magnet the first time the sun set over Capitol Lake down the street.
Before we invested in our luminaries, we talked with my little sister, Mary Alice. She had recently obtained a set of the lighted bags for her home in Brookings, and she said their very presence on winter evenings gave her joy.
“Aren’t you worried that somebody is going to come by and wreck them or swipe some of them?” I asked.
“I thought about that,” my sister said. “It could happen, and if it does, I figure I’ll just get some more. You can’t live your whole live worrying about something that might happen instead of doing things that make you feel happy, can you?”
Well, no, of course not, not when you put it that way. My little sis isn’t always smarter than I am, but sometimes she’s way out there in front.
I resigned myself to the likelihood that I’d be forever replacing bulbs and bags and restringing the electrical lines, and Nancy set herself to shopping for a set of luminaries. She doesn’t do many things halfway, so before we were ready to light up our neighborhood, we had a set of orange bags decorated with Halloween themes, a set of autumn-hued bags for the Thanksgiving period and one set each of green, red and white bags for the Christmas season.
The reds and greens are pretty decorative for Christmas, but for a number of years, we’ve used the white bags. They have snowflakes stenciled in them, and we keep them up from the start of the Christmas season until the beginning of spring. This year, so far, those luminaries with their white snowflakes are the only sign of snow we’ve seen for a while, and I’m just fine with that. It’s kind of funny late in the evening to look out and see those white bags shining in the dark against a backdrop of a dry, brown lawn still scattered with some leaves from elm trees across the street. Stopping at the living room window to enjoy the view of the luminaries and the empty street is one of my pre-bedtime rituals. My kid sister was right. It does make me happy.
She was right about this, too:
For all the years we’ve had those things on our porch rail, I can remember only once when we were certain someone had messed with them. There was another time when it could have been a vandal or it could have been the wind, but only once for sure when a human tried to fool around with our enjoyment.
That makes me happy, too.