Pine tree branches with holiday lights strung on them

1THING: Plug In Sparkle

‘Tis the season…for lots and lots of darkness in the upper Midwest. Today there are exactly nine hours between sunrise and sunset, leaving fifteen in the dark.

This is the season, in other words, for plug-in solutions to add a little light to my life. And that makes for a fitting end to my 2022 1THING: Plug In series. I started sketching thinking that this would be my winter solstice post, but then I geeked out a bit trying to understand how solstice works and ended up with THIS post instead. So now I’m giving it another go.

An illustration two rooms with overhead lighting during winter

Ugh. Glare bombs and ceiling fan light kits might get more use in the winter, and that means we live with more glare right when we need light to be most comfortable. It is no surprise that candles are a big part of hygge, the Danish obsession with getting cozy in the winter. And I am all in favor of candles, but also enjoy the convenience and variety provided by plug-in electric solutions.

An illustration of two rooms with ambient lighting solutions for winter time

Which room would you rather visit for a holiday gathering? The one lit by a ceiling fan light kit, or the one lit with twinkle lights, accent lights, and soft indirect glows from hidden sources? We have all of the above in use at our house right now – yes, all of them – and that helps chase away the mood slump in these shortest of days. Solstice happened, and that means days are getting longer, but it will a month or two before I really notice it. So bring on the plug in sparkle.

Here are a few of those solutions currently at work at my house.

A collage of photos of ways to add soft holiday lighting to a house

(Clockwise from top left) The banister of our stair is wrapped in garland, white lights, and red round lights. The sparkle is delightful and one of my favorite seasonal decorations. Birch twigs with fairy lights live in a dark corner of our living room year-round; during the holidays small bulb ornaments provided extra sparkle. Our Christmas Tree has four different kinds of lights for added depth and dimension: mini lights, micro lights, round lights, and a few bubble lights. A multi-pointed star hangs on the front porch. We go old-school with our ceramic tree, a fad of the 1980’s and therefore fondly remembered. I don’t think I would buy one of these today if I did not have a history with them, but the combination of nostalgia and sparkle is irresistible. Not all light has to be seasonal, like this linear light tucked behind a low bookcase behind the nutcrackers. And there are few seasonal delights as beautiful as twinkle lights covered with snow!

There are many religious and secular observations this time of year both within and outside the Christian tradition. No matter how you celebrate, or if you celebrate at all, may your days be merry and bright!

Light Can Help You