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The large star of Christmas lights that he almost didn't mount in his yard proved to be a beacon of hope.
"Maybe we should skip putting up the lights this year,” I told my kids over breakfast.
“No way!” Janna said.
“You have to put up the lights!” said Alysha.
Easy for them to say. They weren’t the ones stringing 8,000 lights around our yard, and along the border of our seven-foot-tall Christmas star. We had a nice-sized property next to a state-owned game reserve.
The lights did look stunning amid the backdrop of all that nature. That star could almost light the way to Bethlehem it was so big. But putting the lights up was exhausting and the electricity bill in January was out of sight.
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My wife, Becky, smiled over at me from the stove. I couldn’t let the kids down. So out I went, braving the cold.
I was dragging at work the next day, and the guys at the firehouse where I volunteered knew what I’d been up to. “Now all you have to do is take them down!” they joked.
The lights were a comforting sight when I drove up to the house that evening. In the dark woods, the temperature had plummeted to five degrees, and we were in for a subzero night. As I got out of the car I saw Becky talking to two hunters on the front porch.
“You fellas lose your way?” I asked. They looked shaken up.
“We thought we wouldn’t make it out there,” one of the men said. They’d wandered around lost for the better part of the day and knew they wouldn’t survive the night without protection from the elements.
“Then we saw it,” the other man said. “A glow in the east.”
The two of them lifted their eyes to the giant star in my yard. “Your star saved our lives.”
The kids were right about putting up the lights. Especially that Christmas star, a guide we can all follow.
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