Christmas Light/Luz de Natal

Here it is again. Christmas time. A time of joy, a time of sorrow. It all depends on what Christmas means to you. Do you even celebrate it? Do you wish it never came? Or do you look forward to it? Did you love it once, and now hate it?

The meaning of Christmas is so personal that it’s impossible to assume that our experience of it will be the same as someone else’s. If you live in a cold country, snow is the common trigger to Christmas happiness, or sadness; it all depends on how you feel about snow! If you live in a warm country, Christmas can be associated with heat, green trees and sunny days; it all depends on our geography. But it’s ultimately the geography of the mind that prevails, that has the last say, on how we feel about Christmas.

For some, it’s a special time spent with family, with those you love. For others, the word family conjures up dread, disappointment, even despair, and it can be a reminder of the lack of love, or the absence of someone you love. It’s an emotionally loaded time of the year and you either want to rush towards it with joy, or run away from it with fear. Which is it for you? Or are you somewhere in the middle, ambivalent, unimpressed either way, untouched by Christmas.

But I wonder if there is a common theme in the Christmas story that we can all share, one that won’t offend anyone, dismiss anyone, hurt anyone, and allow us to come together, the wounded and the healthy, the non-believers and the believers, the sad and the happy?

I find peace in lighting a candle at Christmas, and gazing into the flame, experiencing it as a symbol of this time of great light in the darkness, and no matter how faint or bright that light, it’s there for us whether we can see it or not.

The story of Jesus away in a manger, with no crib for his bed, reminds me, at the core, that it’s a story about human frailty and vulnerability. It’s about the outsider, the forgotten, the rejected, and the poor; of those who struggle with mind or body ailments, of the outcasts, of those in exile, and the lonely. This is why Christmas can hurt sometimes.

The newly born God-child lies naked in a bed a straw, at that moment of birth when every human being is still pure and open to life, without prejudice, without hatred or fear of the other, without knowing difference or social status, without a specific language or culture. Perhaps that’s why it’s hard sometimes to look at the image of this divine child; it shames us into recognizing that we, too, were like that once, before we were taught to be what we have become, and we secretly, intuitively wish we could return to that tabla rasa state of being and start life anew; this time choosing love in everything we do. But this often feels impossible, so we retreat into the darkness again.

Light a candle at Christmas and be with the light for a while. I hope it will bring you some comfort, joy and hope, and above all, shed some light into your darkness.

A Feliz Natal to you all.

Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square

Church Street

Village of Yorkville Park

Village of Yorkville Park

Wycliffe College facing Queen’s Park

Wycliffe College

Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square

Commerce Court at Bay and King

Village of Yorkville Park

The Gay Village on Church Street

Gardiner Ceramic Museum

Commerce Court at Bay and King

Nathan Phillips Square

BEC Place

Hudson’s Bay Window display

BCE Place Toronto

About thetorzorean

The musings of a torontonian azorean on identity and belonging. You can find me at
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8 Responses to Christmas Light/Luz de Natal

  1. Olá Emanuel, escrevo enquanto vejo cair, através da minha janela, flocos de neve muito leves e fofos. Gostei da tua reflexão sobre este período que une e divide as pessoas. É complexo falar do significado de Natal e tu fazes uma abordagem que surge da tua reflexão. Ajuda-nos sempre olhar através de olhos diferentes dos nossos. BOAS FESTAS para ti e todos os que te são queridos.


  2. Steven Castledine says:

    Hi Emanuel – nice post and great photos!



  3. ilda says:

    Hi Emanuel: you describe so well the ambivalence of feelings and states of mind at Christmas – the light and the darkness, and how the geography outside is perceived by the geography inside, to use your words. Loved this text and the photos. Boas Festas!


  4. Stephen Dow says:

    Obrigado, Querido! For all the light you bring to those around you – especially me!! Feliz Natal meu Emanuel!!!


  5. P. R. Cunha says:

    Boas festas, Emanuel!

    Tu és luz.




  6. Aida says:

    The colourful lights in our city always gladden my heart and I thank you, Emanuel, for the pix of places I haven’t been to. Now I will also think of you lighting your candle in your contemplative way. Beijinhos da Aida


  7. Carol Wells says:

    A very thoughtful piece. Thank you Emanuel.


  8. Pingback: A Different Christmas | Emanuel Melo torontonian azorean writer

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