When the Tree Lights Go Out

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

It happens every year. After Christmas and New Year celebrations end, a melancholy comes upon me and I struggle to make sense of life.

I’d like to blame it on the cold, but weather has little to do with it, for the melancholy has come in desert sun and in northeast snow. It isn’t about depression, or seasonal affective disorder, or disillusionment.

It’s about living out the reality of Christmas once the lights on the tree have gone out.

When my winter world sparkles with white light and presents I can believe that God is here and he is Good. I can believe that all I do matters, that I can make a difference, that the world can be redeemed.

And then the lights go out and the world feels dark. And I understand how my toddler felt when I used to turn the lights off and leave him alone in the dark with Jesus.

It’s now when I need the verses I have committed to memory; it’s at this point when my theology faces off with my reality; it’s in this place that I need Truth to feed my soul and calm my spirit. It’s today that my Faith needs to walk.

How about you? As the lights of the tree fade into your memory and photo book, how do you live the reality of Christmas?

10 thoughts on “When the Tree Lights Go Out

  1. I have always felt like there are more candles to light and more church feasts to celebrate. But in the larger culture, you are right. It seems like a big let down. Perhaps we all need to learn the message of the transformed Ebeneezer Scrooge and keep Christmas throughout the year somehow.


  2. Christmas is my preferred celebration. Over the years, I clung to my German (catholic) upbringing and kept the lights shining bright until January 7th. Jacqueline and I occassionally drive around in Ahwatukee to see whoelse keeps their lights up until January 7th. We ponder over the possibility that these families are also from another country simply since our American friends and neighbors take their lights down either after Christmas or immediately after New Year. To us the lights are much more than pretty decoration, each night as I turn the lights on I pray that their warm and friendly glow give hope and kindle the flame of faith in a passerby. Let his light shine in us and may we take it into the world. Petra


    1. Petra – we too keep the lights up much longer than the average American in our area! Perhaps this is the influence from our international living and backgrounds. I turn the lights on at 5:30 in the morning when I first get up and have the same prayer. I am wondering if you’ve ever done the live candle tree? Those are incredibly beautiful but of course the light goes out quickly….


      1. Marilyn, when growing up we only had candles on the tree. It was a miracle. We kids put also candles on the pines in the garden and the snow did the rest by decorating each branch. Petra


  3. I know just what you mean. I often felt that sadness when all the Christmas decorations come down and the house felt empty. Interestingly though, in the southern hemisphere, because Christmas is at the beginning of the long summer holidays, there is much less of a work up to Christmas and it doesn’t all come crashing down afterwards either because people have sport and holidays to look forward to and beach days to enjoy. I find that the way I celebrate Christmas has changed, it is now just as important but much more understated. There’s less over-eating, I think I am less tempted to go over-board on presents or decorations. in short, less build up and so therefore less let down. Does that make sense? Perhaps it’s a case of celebrating Jesus more over the whole year and less just on one or two days.


    1. This makes so much sense. Culturally we are conditioned to build up, buy, party, and then of course, we crash. It’s not sustainable. This picture of celebrating Jesus over the whole year is exactly right.


  4. This is the perfect post for me today as I attempt to shake the heavy feeling of sadness that comes after the tree is down and the darkness seems to creep in. I heard in the Ephiphany sermon yesterday that when the wise men set out for home after seeing the Christ child the star was not there to guide them back. So how did they find their way? The star was within them because they had experienced the God made flesh. The Ephiphany is to me realizing I have seen The Lord and even in the dark I can be the light- and the darkness will not overcome it. So I walk one step at a time, taking encouragement that many walk with me and we all journey on. Thanks for the insight today.


    1. Jill – thank you so much for this comment. I, too, have that heavy feeling and your comment added to the post so beautifully. Your words “Even in the dark I can be the light” are truth and encouragement to me. I’m so glad you chose to read and comment.


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