Y’all we’ve had quite a year.

And it’s not even over.

On many levels, 2020 has knocked us around and even knocked us down at times. But as the year winds down, we still have the holidays to look forward to. This crazy year can’t take away the joy and the magic of the holidays.

And there’s something I thought Rome residents can do to sort of stick it to 2020 — a year that has cast a shadow over our families, our businesses, our celebrations.

We can let our lights shine bright as the year comes to a close. Our holiday lights, that is.

What better way to brighten up this dreary year than to go all out with our Christmas lights.

Here’s my thought: What if, all across Rome, people did a little extra to make their Christmas lights a little more show-y. What if people who normally wouldn’t put up outdoor lights at all hung up a few on their front porch or around windows or on their trees?

The idea is for Rome to be lit up with lights and color, so that it might bring our friends and neighbors (and ourselves) a little more joy.

My initial idea was to ask the residents of Celanese (my neighborhood) to go all out with their lights so that our neighborhood could be one that families would make a special trip to drive through just to see the lights. Driving around and looking at lights is one of my favorite holiday traditions. It would make me so happy if my own little neighborhood was one that families would look forward to driving through each year to look at the lights and decorations.

And I want to ask the residents of Celanese to do that. But then I thought why limit it to one neighborhood. Why not ask people all over Rome to participate.

Here’s what I want you to do. First of all, start with your own home. If you can afford it, get those lights out and let ‘em shine. Then talk to your neighbors. Tell them we’re trying to make Rome the City of Lights this Christmas and maybe they’ll join in as well.

My hope is that if enough people start putting lights in the next couple weeks then, come December, there will be photos shared on social media so people will know what neighborhoods to drive through or what houses to drive past just to see the cool lights.

It would be great if visitors from out of town made a special trip to Rome just to see the lights in a couple of our neighborhoods. They might even make a night of it. They might load their family or friends up in the car, get some food at a local restaurant and then drive through a couple neighborhoods to look at all the lights and decorations.

Broad Street businesses and the Between the Rivers District should go all out. That area sees a lot of local traffic as well as visitors. Let’s make our downtown area known for its lights, so that people from all over will make a special trip to visit the Lights of Downtown Rome.

I know putting up Christmas lights can be a lot of work and can be tedious. But I also know a lot of people enjoy doing it and enjoy seeing it. So here’s what I’d like you to do. Go all out with your lights, encourage the people on your street or in your neighborhood to do the same, and then let people know on social media that there’s a particular subdivision or street that they should drive through to see the lights.

Someone can even make a Christmas Lights of Rome Facebook page where people post photos and locations to drive through. I know that around Christmas time many families ask for the best places to see lights. And there are a few. But sometimes you have to pay to see the lights. This would be free.

We could even make it a competition — let’s see which neighborhoods can put up the best lights.

What better way to show 2020 it can’t keep us down than by letting our holiday joy shine for everyone to see. And our beautiful city would be just a little more merry and lot more bright.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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