Take time to enjoy the glow

My second favorite holiday season has arrived, and I am READY.

Like so many others, I need some cheer to end this year. As COVID numbers continue to climb, decking my halls has been a welcome therapy. While I always go all-out decorating for Christmas, many people who don’t normally do much more than put up a tree have used holiday decorating as a distraction from the pandemic.

One of my favorite things to do at night is to sit in the quiet glow of Christmas lights. My couch, a cup of tea, some strings of lights and a cozy blanket can bring calm to my chaos. One of my other favorite things to do is drive around to look at outdoor holiday light displays.

Ever since I was young, I have loved looking at the lights and while I am always in awe of the yards that are lit from top to bottom, often with accompanying music, I also find the simplest decorations to be the most beautiful.

Give me some green garlands, clear lights and red bows and I’m happy. A lovely door with a fresh wreath and some well-placed lighting can capture the spirit of Christmas just as well as a flashy display of inflatable characters, though I love those, too.

This year I am especially excited to drive around the city during the Westfield on Weekend’s DecemberFest Holiday Lights Challenge.

The Challenge runs through Jan. 2 and replaces the Holiday House Tour WOW is known for. Instead of touring a few homes inside and out, this year anyone can safely enjoy the lights by driving-by homes on this self-guided “tour.” Folks can participate in the challenge with a $15 entry fee that could bring them a cash prize if their home is voted to be the best. Or people can sign-up in the Just for Fun category to share some cheer with those driving by. A map of holiday homes is available at westfieldonweekends.com. And it’s not too late to join the challenge – just send a message to WOW on its Facebook page to enter.

Downtown Westfield is its own holiday wonderland. From the tree on Park Square Green (and the Menorah will be lit next week) to lights in individual shops and restaurants, a drive downtown feels special right now.

Growing up, my family often visited relatives in New York and New Jersey all year, but especially at the holidays. It wasn’t a particularly long drive, but as a preteen it seemed like forever. And there was no social media to occupy me. I had books and a Walkman. I distinctly remember laying on the backseat on rides home, napping off and on, and I would look for the lights to know we were home.

Even back then, Westfield’s downtown felt magical when it was all lit up. I’d lay in that backseat and see the lights of downtown – even the streetlights seemed to be glowing down at me – and it just felt like home. The other night I was driving from the northside to the southside of the city and my daughter commented about how pretty it was and how it felt special. And it is.

This holiday season, I hope you all take a ride around the city and look at the lights. Take the WOW tour. Park downtown and take a walk from Park Square Green up Elm Street. Start with the city’s Christmas tree and Menorah and take in the glow and you’re sure to see and feel something special despite the chaos of the world.



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