Today’s 13 Days of Holiday-icious guest post is by the wonderful author, Kimberly Brock. Kim Brock is a name I’ve known for a couple years now as I’ve seen the cover of her book gracing the shelves of Foxtale Book Shoppe. We finally met in person when Erika Robuck traveled to Woodstock for a signing of Call Me Zelda. After dinner at a local restaurant and bonding over the most amazing tomato jam on the face of the planet (trust me! you want to rub this all over you body it’s that good), I knew that Kim was a kindred book soul. Our friendship has solidified over the past year thanks to that tomato jam, our shared love of Southern literature, She Reads and being the best moms we can be. I’m honored to have Kim share her holiday memories with you.
Read more about the 13 Days of Holiday-icious and see who else will be visiting my blog.
Little White Lights
If I weren’t raised to believe it would be tacky, I would string white lights on every thing standing still all the year long. I am a fool for a twinkle light. A Christmas light. A little white light will just change everything.
I grew up in an old house that sat on a rise at a crossroads and every year when Christmas rolled around, my mama put plastic, electric candles in the windows. Every window got one of these candles and extension cords were dug out of drawers and plugged in by the bunches. In the light of day, the cords hung down and crawled across the floor to the outlets, an unsightly mess. Tacky, Lord. But these candles were the exception to the rule – you could choose to overlook the technical uglies.
Mama lit the tree in white lights, too. We never had a sophisticated tree. The ornaments were made up of arts and crafts from school, or silly Hallmark characters or delicate white snowflakes Mama made the year she learned how to do a kind of needlework she called “tatting.” The ornaments were funny and gaudy and full of memories, not something you’d find in the pages of a magazine or gracing the aisles in Belk’s. But the thing that did not change because Mama would not compromise, were those white lights.
I loved to sit in the living room with nothing but that tree lit. There was something about the soft glow that made me feel soft, made me glow, made me quiet inside. My insides are not the kind to get quiet on their own, so I could appreciate there was some power at work, something I should take the time to try to understand. Those lights stopped time. They told the whole world around me, Hush.
My memories of the holiday season are coasting down the hill into that valley after dark, riding in my grandparent’s sedan, anticipating our house coming into view. I watched for it, holding my breath, until the first light shown in the darkness. Depending on which direction we were coming from, that first light might be the one from my bedroom, upstairs, peeking through the branches of the oak tree. Or it might be that we came the other way and approached the house on the side where the tree stood in the window. Either way, it was a special thing to see. It called for a person to pause.
Now in my own home, I’m busy dragging out the extension cords and the plastic candles. We’ll stand in the yard tonight and admire the lights in the windows. We’ll pull down our street and while my own children watch for the light in the window I’ll say Hush. Do you see it yet? I’m pulling out the ornaments and stringing the lights on my own tree. And I’ll tell you, I did cave and try out the colored lights one year, big old Charlie Brown bulbs, and it was miserable. I sat in that room with the tree and felt so aggravated. I knew exactly why Mama had never given in when we begged for colors and blinking. I swore I’d never do it again. I wouldn’t give up the peace, the Hush, for the lure of something new or different or trendy or whatever. I don’t know. Obviously, I have a problem. I’m being shallow, but it felt like I’d sold out, somehow. I missed my little white lights. I need them in ways I can’t put into words.
I’ve been holding myself back these last weeks since Halloween, itching to deck my halls. And I got a message from my mama, who hasn’t put out Christmas decorations for the last two years, recovering from a fall. She was feeling sad. And then something happened, a surprise. From her window she could see something glowing, a string of little white lights. My dad had made a gift for her. A tree of her own. A reminder. What we’re all looking for no matter the season. What stops us, every one, and gives us pause. And I know what my mama heard in her heart, what we all are longing after, what we are searching for, holding our breath at the dimming of day.
Hush. Do you see it yet?
Kimberly Brock is the author of “The River Witch” and recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award 2013. Her short works can be found in the anthologies Summer in Mossy Creek, and Sweeter Than Tea. Formerly a special needs educator and actor, Kimberly is a regular contributor to several blogs dedicated to the craft of writing. She serves as the Blog Network Coordinator for She Reads, a national online book club, actively spearheading several women’s literacy efforts through the She Reads Gives Back campaign. She is a certified Pilates instructor and owner of Kimberly Brock Pilates. She lives in the foothills of north Atlanta with her husband and three children, and is currently at work on her next novel. You can find her at: Kimberly Brock Books Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter