“Producers of great art are no demigods, but fallible human beings, often with neurotic and damaged personalities.”

–Theodor Adorno

I’m not saying I’m a producer of great art–but am I the only one who gets ever-so-slightly OCD over string lights? I used to have two strings of gold metallic LED solar-powered Chinese lantern lights in the garden. Then one of the panels died, so I thought I’d just buy a whole new set. Well! I don’t know if there’s a whole tanker of the things dry-docked in Long Beach and screwing up the supply chain or what, but talk about hen’s teeth. 

I finally found a 20-socket string of “warm white” which I thought would be close enough–in fact, these were PAPER lanterns, that would not only instantly get wrecked in rain, but even in the daytime “glowed” an unsightly eggshell-white, not like my burnished gold. Plus suddenly all Chinese lantern string lights have almost doubled in price. I bought one set off ebay that worked for one night, conked out, and that I had to return. The gold metallic lanterns (which sound cheesy but are very cool) are simply nowhere to be found. 

Suffering from insomnia one night last week, I happened, possibly through Etsy, upon the They have tons of, again, PAPER lantern string lights, in various sizes. And on an impulse I bought three strands of teal blue plug in 4-inch, figuring I could hang them across the French doors that give onto the patio outside my office. 

They arrived Monday and took a pair of pliers and a good four hours to assemble. I watched Jean-Pierre Melville’s Un Flic (Alain Delon, Richard Crenna, Catherine Deneuve) AND The Return of the Soldier (Julie Christie, Alan Bates, based on Rebecca West novel) whilst working, and managed to tear only three of the lanterns. 

They look pretty great in the dark, though I kind of hung them wrong so must now re-do. And that is not even counting the white plug-in lights on the side ramada, the tiny copper-wire-connected battery-powered lights, two blue and one white, that also have their own proper ritual and place, time to be turned on and off, et cetera.  

And don’t even ask about the candles–they inhabit their own special world. 

The operative word there being “ritual”…

We’re in the last few days before Christmas and so great is my sense of expectation that you’d think I were about to give birth myself.

I do tend to overdo–everything–but that doesn’t derogate (great word that was used often in law school) from the genunine underlying excitement at the impending birth of Christ; from my love of the Advent and Christmas liturgy; and from the poignancy of the fact that, believers or no, the whole world stands still, if only for a moment, on December 25.

Speaking of standing still–in today’s homily, the priest observed that in sending the angel Gabriel to announce the good news to Mary, Christ left the fate of the cosmos to the decision of one human being. He talked about how much God values human choice–we are infinitely free to choose; infinitely free to love. We’re also free of course to choose against love–but Mary chose in favor of.

The priest went on to observe that our own “Yes “may not change the universe–but it does change us.

Agreed as to the second part–but I’m not so sure that, in its infinitesimal way, our Yes doesn’t change the universe as well.

I might get a little weird this time of year about my lights–but what child isn’t drawn to a candle in a dark window? What child doesn’t jump to be charged with opening the door to welcome a guest? What kid doesn’t want to be the first one up–to wake the others!–on Christmas morning?



  1. Love your point of view on lights and Christmas, encouraging!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Wishing you every joy this season and in the coming year, Ingrid–thank you!

  2. barbaraschmidtrunkel says: Reply

    Thank you, Heather! I still pray for you every day and wish you a merry and blessed Christmas!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Bless you Barbara! Thank you, thank you, and wishing you a rich and meaningful Christmas!

  3. “These little lights of mine, I’m gonna let ‘em shine!”Wonderful!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      There ya go, Jeff! Thanks to you and Maxine for the wonderrful card and message–looks like all three of us will pass into the desert when the time comes–but not yet! Joyous Christmas to you both–


Discover more from HEATHER KING

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading