The holidays have come and gone, and it’s hard for me to let them go. I didn’t have a particularly good or bad holiday season, but I always feel a sense of warmth at this time of year, I guess. I know the world isn’t perfect, and I know that there are plenty of people suffering and unhappy. Still, I can’t seem to help it: during the holidays, the world frequently seems welcoming and magical to me.
Christmas lights aren’t extremely popular in Paris. But in late December, every night as I went to bed I could look across our street and see a few scattered strands that some people had put around their windows. They shone through the night, keeping me company when I couldn’t sleep, their soft glow as comforting as a nightlight in a child’s room.
The holidays have come and gone, and I always miss them. We put away our ornaments and pack up our artificial tree. Stores change their window displays. Boulangeries take down the garlands that circled their warm, heavenly-smelling interiors. The holiday lights are gone, and the early-falling night seems darker and emptier for a while, until you get used to it again.
But luckily, I don’t have to get used to it just yet. Night after night, people in an apartment across the street continue to turn on the blinking, colored string of lights draped somewhat haphazardly over their small balcony’s railing. Just inside their window, strings of golden bulbs hang suspended, like miraculous snow. It’s far from being the most beautiful holiday display, but it comforts me.
The lights stay on only a few hours, in the early part of the evening. Maybe the family has young children who still want to turn them on? I wish I could send them a thank you card, but I don’t know their apartment number. All I can do is smile when twilight comes and that shining glow suddenly springs out from the stone façade, and for a while holds its own against the darkness.