A smile in the Light

Re: previous post:

We’ve finished distributing the photos I took of the Christmas-lit houses of our hometown, Long Beach, NY. It was not so easy.

We’ve learned it’s considerably  more difficult to find a house in the daytime whose decorations stand out so beautifully at night.

Cheryl and I went out to attempt this, going up one block of the  President streets and down the next. We had other pressing chores of the day in mind as we did our photo delivery rounds so our mood was less filled with yuletide spirit than when we first started our project.

As we drove and thumbed through the dozen and a half photos yet to be distributed we both felt stressed and considerably less jolly. We strained to match photos with houses, trying to discern the presence of unlit bulbs on bushes and railings. One of us muttered, ‘I’ll be happy to never see these Christmas photos ever again.”

Any who have started a project in full joy of the moment might relate to how the moment sometimes deflates. Details, unanticipated, become hurdles that must be leapt, while other pressing demands of the season call for action too.

All we can do is stand back, take a deep breath and realize what the spirit of Christmas is all about. THEN MUDDLE THROUGH THE DAMN MOMENT IN FRONT OF US!

We stopped after a while in this daylight quest but went back to the task that night. I drove on one block while Cheryl walked Bailey on another, she keeping a sharp eye out for “wanted” houses, making me aware of sightings by cell phone.

We had spoken often about one particular house photo that worked out so well we called it the, “Currier and Ives” house. But neither of us could remember what street it was on.

I did finally spot it and as I pulled to the curb across the street it looked even more warm and “Currier” in the night. A wide front window framed the softly lit interior. I could see a man and a woman inside as I approached.  It looked so cozy-seasonal that I was sure they must have a fireside wine-sip going on, low music and a sigh of fresh pine scent wafting through the house.




 I placed the photos into the mailbox and retreated to my car. Just then the door opened and a lady went to the box looking quizzically at me as I crossed to my car.

I called back to her, “We took some photos of your house and i just left them for you.” I got a, “Thank you.”as she started to remove the prints from their envelope. I added, “We took many photos in the area and actually we thought yours was best.”

I thought I saw a smile as the light from the window played across her face in the darkness of the stoop. Then she called to me, “Merry Christmas.”

So powerful a, “Merry Christmas” under such circumstance. So sincere in her tone, as she expressed her appreciation. “Merry Christmas”, not a trite offer but a universal  utterance of good will. It said so much with such an economy of words. It warms the heart more than any fireplace hearth.

I did get an email response from the sweet lady. Through it Cheryl and I could see we did cause a slight smile on a dark and silent night.

We hadn’t known of course the latent sadness that was beneath the surface of, “Merry Christmas.” One never knows what chords are struck within a heart one touches, one never expects the story within. Although we all have stories within:

Dear Lee and Cheryl,

Thank you so much for the photo and the impressionist(?) picture of my house from this past week. I was taken aback, in a good way, from your kindness and appreciation. We surely need a little more gentleness, and kindness of spirit in this  world.

My parents lived next door to me, and last Nov. a few days after the hurricane, my dad passed away at the age of 91. Then my mom passed away, the day after Christmas, at 88. So this is my first Christmas without them. I used to leave my blinds open on the side of my house, so they could see out their windows and see the tree, as in later years, i was the only one who put up a tree. In some way, I feel a connection to your recognizing my decorations and my parents, no longer being here. Just yesterday, I put up a Nativity on my lawn. I always wanted one, and my mom did too.

Thank you for brightening MY day, and making me smile.

I wish you the best of this season, and into the NEW YEAR.

Be kind to one another.


So dear reader, Carol sang us a “carol” in this email, her real name by the way. And she finished with the simplest yet most profound of urgings, to us and perhaps of you, “Be kind to one another.”

Merry Christmas,

Be well,


7 replies »

  1. I’m sitting in my car passing time while my laundry is being washed in the laundry mat. I checked my email on my cell phone and found your blog. Now I’m weeping. Your blog was just as powerful as it was last year. How nice of you to touch Carol’s heart this way and all who read this blog.


  2. Reblogged this on leebythesea and commented:

    This blog post is the second I ever posted. It’s a sequel to my first, “Selfishness, it’s not Just for Christmas” which I reposted yesterday. Right after I posted Selfishness… I heard about the killing of two NYC police officers. It took the wind out of me as it did to you. I didn’t feel like posting anything of Christmas spirit after that. But I read this second one this morning, in its entirety. It ends with a message that seems to be so lost to the world today, A simple message of kindness. A message straight from the heart. So I will repost, “A Smile in the Light”. Maybe we need a message like this right now.
    Be well,


  3. Lee, as usual, your way of writing is something very special, also something very needed these days by many people. I’m very glad you get so much from what you do to help make the world a little better. Not only do people gain from your words but also any donations people make to help the unfortunate people of Ethiopia sets an example for other individuals to make a constructive difference in the world we live in. I signed up to receive all your blogs, as I’m sure many others will also.


  4. I am really loving your writing! You have me as a reader, without a doubt. You are a good man…..and quite insightful!
    Hope to see you walk by again, with the pup!

    Happy New Year!


  5. Lee, you and Cheryl have a way of making many people very happy, that’s something rare these days! People can’t expect change for the good in this world if they don’t step up as you guys do toward this challenge. bye the way, your wording is fa-nominal. Love to you guys.


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