As young girls growing up in Calcasieu Parish, my sister and I would often gaze in giddy delight at the village-size constellation of electric lights glimmering merrily below the Lake Charles bridge in the moonlight. "Daddy, Daddy! When are you going to take us to the fair?" we'd ask as we drove across, pointing excitedly to what we had no idea were actually rows and rows of chemical plants and refineries. Rather than offer an explanation that would rob us of a childhood oblivion to the growing presence of an ugly industry in our community, he would simply answer with a smile, "Well, not tonight, but maybe one day, if you're really good girls."
Daddy never took us to that fair (thankfully), but like sharks and small children, I am still attracted to -- and often distracted by -- shiny things. I make no apologies for this. And during the holidays, when such behavior is widely accepted as normal, I don't have to. It doesn't matter whether those Christmas lights were professionally installed across a sprawling estate, haphazardly strewn along the awning of your favorite neighborhood restaurant or carefully placed atop a modest FEMA trailer. What matters is that someone took the time to put them there with the hope that you might stop for a moment to behold them -- in all their bright, sparkly, simple goodness. No questions asked.
As a person for whom the pretty lights snaking a PPG smokestack once signaled the ultimate destination, I have come to appreciate the value of perpetuating a sense of wonder, at any age. Sometimes that means letting the reality of what lies beneath the lights fade away, if only for a moment.
Wishing you a happy and shiny holiday season.