You go, Gloria

I realize that I’ve somewhat missed the window for a post on Christmas decorations, but since this post isn’t really about the decorations at all, but rather the strength of the human spirit, I figure it’s OK. (Ambitious, no?)

Back in mid-December, the Houston Chronicle ran a story in its Houston section — which features sort of “local color,” as opposed to “news,” in the Houston area — about residents of an historically-black area of Houston who go all out with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights all along their streets. Neighbors coordinate with each other to turn entire entire stretches into “Candy Cane Lane.” But one grandmother, Gloria Jones, was a particular feature of the article, since she has over 30,000 lights on her house and lawn alone and even decks out her old Cadillac in lights. She stands on her lawn every evening beginning in early November to greet passers-by who slowly drive around the neighborhood gazing at her and her neighbors’ lights.

My whole family piled into my brother’s Trail Blazer this year to go see Gloria’s lights: Dan, me, my parents, my niece, my sister-in-law, and my brother grabbed some Starbucks after dinner and headed over to Gloria’s house. We drove up and down the streets, oohing and ahhing at all the neighbors’ lights until we could find Gloria’s house — occasionally turning on the map light to re-read the article to point us there.

Finally, we saw it … and her. Gloria was standing on the sidewalk, waving and shouting to all the drivers passing by. There was a slow line of cars inching along in front of her house, every one slowing down to say hello. We rolled down all our windows so that we could all lean out and shout encouragement to Gloria, who very cheerfully thanked us.

I got choked up passing Gloria’s house. I’m not all into the Christmas decorations, as evidenced from my previous post about such things, but I was so impressed with her achievement. She so clearly took pride and pleasure from creating this display and sharing it with the whole city. And I realized that very seldom do simple accomplishments like that get recognized. How often do we really stop and say to the people around us, “Hey, you did a really good job on that [fill in the blank: presentation / landscaping / dinner]?” It felt really good to tell Gloria how happy her display made all of us. I think there ought to be more overt recognition of things like that. I guess that’s my resolution for the new year.

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