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The Slice: Twinkling lights are tiny beacons of happiness

Tue., Dec. 14, 2010

Some grouse about the duration of darkness at this time of year.

But the long nights frame the season.

Through a window of the early bus, you see Christmas lights heralding the holiday in the predawn stillness. Some houses give off a radioactive glow. Others are adorned with a modest strand or two.

One of the neatest things to see, though, is the homes where the only lights are on Christmas trees in silent living rooms.

Those trees belong to strangers. Still, for a moment, it’s easy to imagine that you know them.

Like you, they are hoping.

The big day is near. And for the people who decorated those trees, the long nights are a sign.

Christmas is coming. Maybe you feel it. Maybe you don’t.

But there in the darkness, a happy twinkling suggests some of the people living along STA Route 43 are ready to celebrate. That glimpse is a gift.

Slice answers: My friend Martin saw the question about celebrating a holiday on a different date.

One year, when he and wife Susan were directors of an ecumenical retreat center near Lake Chelan, they knew they would be on duty during Christmas and New Year’s. They wouldn’t be able to join her family in Tacoma for the traditional celebrations.

“The answer that year was to declare Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Day, to be the real holiday and we had a wonderful family party and gift exchange,” he wrote. “The best part was enjoying the three weeks before Christmas knowing that all the shopping was done. No frenzy!”

Then there was this from Cathy Caskey.

“Our family had friends who celebrated Christmas at Thanksgiving every year,” she wrote. “They decorated their house indoors and out, put up a tree, had all the gifts wrapped, et cetera.

“We thought it was an odd custom because nobody decorated early back then. Later, when the kids grew up, it made all kinds of sense because they had the family together for their Christmas, and when the ‘real’ one came around, the kids could go to their in-laws without having to trade holidays.

“The only drawback was they had a hard time finding a nice tree that early and theirs was very scraggly and pitiful looking.”

Today’s Slice question: Do your visitors from other parts of the country comment on the number of pickup trucks here?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail Ever been to a Christmas party hop?

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