I want to echo Severo Avila’s thoughts shared in his Nov. 10 column in the Rome News-Tribune. We should light up our neighborhoods and the skies over Rome like never before this Christmas. I, too, am challenging all of us during this sacred season to light it up!

We live on an ordinary tract of land in the country; our property line converges on a well-trafficked corner. One day we decided to use that small parcel to share the joy of Christmas with our neighbors. The response we received has been extraordinary. Everyone loves the lights!

Every season, even during elections, we make sure there is a themed display, always with bright lights that greet our neighbors every day. We have had strangers pull into our driveway to thank us for our initiative. Many say how much joy it has brought them, everyone of all ages.

One passerby stated that her young son looked forward to his early morning rides to school in the dark because he knew all the lights would greet him. Another said that our corner is like a beacon, a reminder that neighbors are close to home, a delicious feeling for weary travelers. Of course, our neighbors are so appreciative. We always tell them that their delight is the reason we decorate our corner.

One Christmas, vandals visited our corner and tore down the decorations, breaking the giant iconic Christmas tree made of PVC pipe. We had so many folks stop in our driveway to express their outrage at the dismantled emblem of joy.

Once the tree and display were resurrected, we received even more support. They told us they felt like our neighborhood was telling others that we will stand together again as we always have. We repaired the tree and placed it back onto the corner to everyone’s delight, with even more lights a-blazing. Everyone came together around this plastic tree, now a part of Lovell Road’s Christmas every year.

We have met almost all of our neighbors in this way. We have learned so much about the exciting and enthusiastic citizens that live around us. We even had kind neighbors donate baubles and supplies to make the corner even more festive.

One fellow citizen, who does not live here anymore, her childhood home is up the street. After her mother died, she generously dropped off all of their fall decorations stored in the barn. These were the same creations that adorned her mother’s front yard year after year, so it was a gift of love.

It snowed one Christmas season, turning our corner into a lacy covered light display, with holiday creatures peeking out from under the latest addition of Christmas spirit. That was everyone’s favorite, and the incredible sight became a Christmas card or two.

Recently, when folks stop at the stop sign at the corner, their windows come down, and they tell us they cannot wait for this year’s Christmas exhibit that we have planned for them. Of all years, this is the one we need to outdo ourselves as never before because joy and smiles have been so hard to come by these days.

Severo’s challenge given to all Romans was for every neighborhood to “go all out with your (Christmas) lights.”

He was even hoping someone would come forward and make a “Christmas Lights of Rome” Facebook page. I wish I knew how to do that because I know that our little town is so full of spirit, and it would be a great way to spread the wonder. Just as he said, our village would be “just a little more merry and a lot more bright.”

Can you imagine if we all displayed just one piece of Christmas or a message in our windows, lawns, or yards?

What a beautiful reminder that Rome is strong and that we will always need each other, especially now and during this precious season. Our surrounding communities would experience what it looks like when our town comes together to spread desperately needed cheer. Since drive-through events are now standard for everything from graduations to parades, why not add “light-seeing” to the list.

You are welcome to go by our corner situated on Lovell Road S.E. and Chulio Road in Rome to see our presentation. We hope that it adds a smidgen of joy to your life at this beautiful but seemingly off-balance time of year.

I challenge all of you to do what you can to light up our town even if you do not have lights. Our spirits must be brighter than the stars this sacred season!

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict. Betty Schaaf’s email is bettyannschaaf@gmail.com.

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