We received our Christmas Eve luminary kit from our block captains this morning; eleven white paper bags, eleven white candles, and two quarts of sand in plastic bags. That’s one paper bag luminary for each square in the concrete sidewalk outside our house. Around four o’clock PM, all our neighbors were out folding bags, scooping sand, and setting candles. Around five o’clock, wooden matches were getting inserted gingerly down into the mouths of the bags. It’s not a windy night, so the candles will still be burning early tomorrow morning.
It’s difficult to describe the luminaria’s effect, just as it’s difficult to describe the sense of community on this street. The bags are pretty, and the flickering effect of all those candles stretching in an organic line up and down the street is… well, real, in a way that six foot inflatable snowmen aren’t. I don’t want it to sound like I’m in the middle of a Thomas Kinkaid painting — though the line of luminaries are easily pretty enough to be the subject of entire stores’ worth of mall art. And I don’t want to make it sound like this prettiness only comes at the expense of crippling small-town fascism, though every sitcom writer working for the past fifteen years would find it easy to imagine that plot. The captains are low-key, the luminaries are pretty in a way that makes you sorry they’ll be gone tomorrow, even while you’re looking at them right now. This is just a really, really great street.
Kate’s parents live nine luminaria away, and in March, my dad and stepmother will be moving in to a house just fifty-nine luminaria from our front door. That’s a short tricyle ride, or a medium-length pogo-stick journey; we know, because there are several pogo-stick experts in training within ten luminaria of us. We are all very, very lucky. Merry Christmas!