Christmas Eve has always held its magic for me for my family always celebrated Christmas then with the opening of gifts and a then we ate sumptuous dinner. The next day on Christmas was a day spent together and one of reminiscing along with relatives that would stop by.
But in 1980 a woman that lived up the street from me named Chris, called me and said she had an idea and asked if I’d participate. Her idea was for everyone in the neighborhood to place white bakery bags with sand in them on each side of their driveways and put a lit candle inside but just on Christmas Eve. She asked if I would call my nearby neighbors and I gladly said I would; she called the rest and the rest involved three streets. That phone call came three weeks before Christmas and gave us all time to purchase bakery bags, sand and candles. None of it was costly.
All of us lived close to a hardware store, a bakery and many places to buy small candles. Everyone I called thought it was a great idea and looking back, everyone that Chris called thought so as well.
The day before Christmas Eve that year, came a cold snap and it was so cold outside that it made anyone’s teeth shake. The supplies for the luminaries were ready at my house and the next night it was bone chilling. I will never forget going outside with my then-husband, my two young sons and the supplies and of course, they wanted to put sand in each white bakery bag and so it was back in the house to retrieve two huge spoons.
Sand was shakily put in each white bakery bag by small gloved hands, while my then-husband and I placed a small white lit candle inside each bag. Our driveway was illuminated on both sides and it was one glorious sight.
But even more glorious was to look up the street about half an hour later and see nothing but glowing white bags in rows of two as far as you could see. As no one then had very few outside lights, it made our neighborhood aglow. Chris’ idea had worked its magic for it made all of us feel connected all the more: The lit bags shone bright and created a feeling of peace and love.
Every year thereafter, we took Chris’ idea and lined our driveways with the sand filled bakery bags and lit candles. With the advent of some young couples moving away and new neighbors moving in, the idea slowly faded into near oblivion but Chris still did it as did other neighbors including me. And then like all good things, it came to an end sadly.
Looking back, her idea was not costly but the feeling those lit bags gave out was one of oneness and I miss it. The neighborhood changed and changed, Chris passed away and now no one does it. Peace and love can come from small gestures and come this Christmas Eve, rest assured I will line my driveway, as I did in the past, while hoping others do the same.
One idea can make things magical as Chris’ did and it’s time to carry on her tradition all over again. She gave us much that Christmas Eve and it will never be forgotten and I owe her.
Published today in my local paper