O.k., I didn’t come up with this, the tagline comes from Tom Bodett who has been the voice of Motel Six. He coined the phrase while ad-libbing in the studio with the motel’s ad agency back in 1986.

Seeing the festive new lights on the Christmas tree and going up on the buildings in the downtown area made me think about the tradition and symbol of “light” at Christmas. Thomas Edison used lights for Christmas as a publicity stunt back in 1880, but it was his partner Edward Johnson who two years later invented the first string of electric Christmas tree lights.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Right from the very beginning in the book of Genesis, light has been an important part in our religious community.

Let there be light!

Before electric lights there were logs, bonfires, and candles. The tradition of lighting the tree with candles began in the 17th century in Germany, and candles are also used during Hanukkah, the Jewish “Festival of Light” which is celebrated in December.

The lights around a Christmas tree lead to the top where a star is placed. The star light guided the three Wiseman to Jesus in Bethlehem. Its purpose is to inspire us to look at that inner light that we have within ourselves and think about changing certain aspects of our own lives or perhaps we are on one path in life, but changing it and going on another?

Let there be light!

There are many Christmas movies that range from the action thriller Die Hard 2 (it takes place during Christmas), to the sentimental favorite It’s a Wonderful Life, or from the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. However, the movie that best represents “light” is the comedy Christmas Vacation. The astonished look on Clark Griswold’s face as he lights up his house with 250 strands of lights shows the majestic joy Christmas lights bring to a person a family, and a community.

I can remember riding around town a number of years ago with Jim O’Connor and Clark Grinde judging the Story City Lions Club lighting contest that was sponsored by the Municipal Electric Department. If there was an award for “extravagant illumination in the spirit of Clark Griswold” it would have to be Karl Ostrem. I’m sure Karl is at the top of the electric department’s Christmas card list.

Let there be light!

So proclaimed downtown advocate Connie Phillips, and there are new lights. The Christmas tree in downtown is our community centerpiece. Like the centerpiece on a dining room table it is a focal point where all come together and all are welcome. The lights on the tree and on the buildings gives us that sense of community, they lift our spirit, and are welcoming in the darkness of winter.

And because we are Story City

And have an outstanding Municipal Electric Department

“We’ll leave the lights on for you.”