I am not in general a fan of how early it gets dark these days. I like to take a walk after work and listen to a podcast to clear my head of work thoughts, and I had to turn my phone flashlight on by the end of tonight's walk. I have a jacket with a reflective stripe on it but I think I may need to start carrying a proper flashlight, too!
However, over the last week or so I have noticed something that almost makes up for the fact that I'm walking in the dusk: Christmas lights are going up early in my neighborhood. I noticed the first couple of houses with their lights on just a few days after Halloween. This week, a few more houses joined in.
I have no idea why these neighbors are choosing to light up their houses early, but I find it surprisingly cheering. To say that this has been a tough year in so many ways is obviously a huge understatement. I took yesterday off to spend some time with my kids (who were off school for Veterans Day) and I was surprised by how unrefreshed I felt last night.
Don't get me wrong: I had a nice day off. But it wasn't enough. Frankly, I don't know what would be enough. This year is just so hard, in so many ways. The pandemic has made almost every aspect of my life harder and created so many extra problems for me to solve, both at work and at home. The election was a cloud of stress and worry over the year, and even though we won the most important thing, the way so many elected Republicans have reacted to Trump's refusal to concede only increases my worries about the long term health of our democracy. And now I'm watching COVID-19 cases skyrocket all over the country and tick steadily higher here and that makes me worried and so incredibly sad.
Last night, as I realized how exhausted I am by this all, I also realized that I had better figure out how to get through it because none of this is going to change anytime soon.
Maybe my neighbors on onto something. Maybe the only answer is to stake a claim on whatever joy you can find. We're thinking we may put our Christmas lights up early this year, too.