Light Notes

Everyone saw Christmas lights. A little boy saw something else

A decorated home in Spokane brought carloads of spectators during the holiday season.
A decorated home in Spokane brought carloads of spectators during the holiday season.

A silent night? What lay ahead on this cold, clear evening would hardly fit that description.

It happened in the waning hours of Christmas a few years back. Packages had been opened early morn, boardgames spent into exhaustion and the last bite of fudge crystallized on a holiday plate. Apathy was about to set in.

“You have to see this one home tonight,” daughter Tiffany said, her enthusiasm about an over-the-top decoration beginning to stir the lethargic family. “It’s absolutely amazing.!”

Lucy Luginbill Light Notes mug.jpeg
Lucy Luginbill

Dutifully, we donned our coats, wiped chocolate from our mouths and put on our mittens — not all in that order. Then, herded like tired sheep, we climbed into the chilly family van for a drive to THE HOUSE, a reputation that shouted even before it came into view.

“It’ll be worth the drive,” Tiffany said as we endlessly drove through the snowy streets and neighborhoods in search of the phenomenal display.

From all accounts, the residence was an amazing feat of synchronized lighting and decorations, one nearby neighbors surely wouldn’t miss. But lo and behold, few souls in the city of Spokane planned to pass up this event.

For as far as the eye could see, an unending caravan of bumper-to-bumper cars edged along a row of unlit homes, each hoping to finally catch the matchless sight.

It would be a magic moment to capture the spirit of Christmas.

“We’re almost there, so get your cameras ready!” my daughter called from the front passenger seat, knowing our patience was about to be rewarded.

As the spectacle came into view, our breath caught at the sight.

There were dancing robotic elves kicking up their heels to the beat while shimmering snowmen twisted and turned. Lighted frosty trees flashed red, green and white while electrified carolers sang “Jingle Bells” beside a glowing candy cane lane, one that meandered through the display.

From the icy rooftop to the edge of the snow-covered lawn, from the corners of the house to the frosted windows, sparkle greeted the eye.

“Luke, look at the pretty house!” I said from the back of the van, reaching to give a gentle shoulder squeeze to my 4-year-old grandson. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

What he said next had us startled — and staring.

“Wow!” They have a basketball hoop!” his little voice exclaimed.


Our eyes searched. Had the residents of this house-all-aglow decorated their basketball hoop too? No ... it wasn’t over the garage where one would expect it to be.

And then we saw it. There, lying on its side and unlit upon the front porch was a weathered basketball rim and backboard. The unadorned item in the midst of the extravaganza was what the little boy recognized as special.

That moment made me wonder if for a special reason God chose a nondescript setting for his exceptional gift to the world? The quiet of the humble manger scene is certainly in sharp contrast to the “noise” that surrounds this holy Christmas season.

Perhaps, what it may take for us to notice the Prince of Peace is a child’s heart.

Lucy Luginbill is a syndicated Tri-City Herald columnist, religion editor and career public television producer and host. Her popular Light Notes column reflects inspirational and faith-focused stories. She’s been working in journalism for more than 30 years.