Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lightbulb Day--Coming To A Winter Solstice Near You

Now this is an idea worth celebrating and spreading around: Lightbulb Day.

Then, the evening of December 21, to start our Lightbulb Day celebration, we turn off all of the lights, build a fire in the fireplace, light a few candles, and talk about what life was like throughout human history until the not-too-distant past. We recite Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," because it's about a man and his horse in the woods on "the darkest evening of the year." We might read a little bit of The Long Winter or another Laura Ingalls Wilder book. I talk about how much my bad eyesight would have limited my life if I had lived in an era before glasses were invented, and how David's allergies would have made it impossible for him to work on a farm. We talk about the Winter Solstice, and what it means in the Northern Hemisphere regarding daylight.

Then we talk about what humans have done to change the environment to meet our needs, to make possible a long, productive, comfortable, happy life. We toast the people who have used their minds to create the means for us to do this. We talk about our favorite inventions. (I waver back and forth between contact lenses and penicillin.) (emphasis added)


I love the Lightbulb Day song, too! Help me spread the word--I think we'll do Lightbulb Day this year, too. What a wonderful way to celebrate the creative spirit and accomplishments of human beings.

Via Mariposario, with many thanks!


Flibbert said...

Isn't that Frost poem an extended metaphor contemplating death, though?

Still, another poem might be a fun idea!

Deb said...

Gee, I'd never read the Frost poem that way.


Hmmm. I still don't. I love the visual and auditory and tactile imagery.

Maybe John Enright has an opinion.

Anyway, glad you liked my writeup of Lightbulb Day, Jenn! We have a lot of fun every year. It would be neat if the idea started to circulate.

Deb said...

Oh, and today happens to be Ira Gershwin's birthday. He'd be 111.

So today we should toast the inventor of the lyrics to "They All Laughed" as well as "It Ain't Necessarily So":

It ain't necessarily so
It ain't necessarily so
The t'ings dat yo' li'ble
To read in de Bible,
It ain't necessarily so.

Here is a link to the full lyrics:

Flibbert said...

Who's John Enright? Why would he have an opinion?

The speaker in the poem stops in the frozen darkness on the winter solstice and looks out on a wind-swept landscape and thinks about the woods, which are "lovely, dark, and deep." As a metaphor, death stands as the most obvious one to make.

It has nice imagery and all that, but reading death into it is actually a pretty standard interpretation.

Deb said...

John Enright is an Objectivist poet. See link above.

The guy in the Frost poem has had a long, hard ride, and is looking forward to getting to his nice, warm, lighted home. Haven't you ever felt that way at the end of a long, satisfying day's work? But then the scene before him is so beautiful that he can't help but stop to drink it in. I felt this way all the time when I was riding the bus home from New York City after I first started working there after college. We'd get out of the Lincoln Tunnel and we'd be climbing up the hill, and I'd look out the window and see the lights of the city glittering on the Hudson River. And then I'd turn back to whatever work I could get done on my lap before I got home.

It's lovely to stop and reflect on the beauty of things from time to time, and one should do that (by reading poetry, among other things), but then one should pick up the reins and continue on toward one's goal. Both activities have their place in life.

I think that's probably closer to what Frost intended than a reflection about death.

Rational Jenn said...

I had no idea such an interesting discussion was going on here! Blogger/Google has messed up and not sent me comments as usual.

I, too, have never read anything into Frost's poem about death. I've always read it as a beautiful depiction of a moment in time, a respite from a busy day and the necessity of continuing travels. My kids have a wonderfully illustrated book of that poem and I think we'll read it on Lightbulb Day!

Deb--I love love love the idea and think we should make this a part of our holiday celebrations. I think my husband is on board, too.

Love Ira Gershwin, too! Methinks we should download some on iTunes and get the kids into it. We've been listening to some jazzy stuff as of late--Louis Prima in particular.

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

Rational Jenn said...

Oh, and another one of our Christmas books--and maybe we should save this for Christmas as opposed to Lightbulb Day--is When Washington Crossed the Delaware. Have you ever read it? It's written for kids and co-authored by Lynne Cheney. Ryan is already a big George Washington fan. Me, too. But again--human achievements, yay!

Deb said...

Yes, we have the Washington book, too. We love it, too.

Deb said...


Did you know that if you Google Lightbulb Day, your post on this comes up second? My article on how to do it, here:
doesn't even appear on the top several pages. Interesting.

Lightbulb Day is this Sunday, December 21, 2008. Happy Lightbulb Day!