Welcome to Viva-city and Downtown San Diego
Sandra Simmons

Life in the City

-by Sandra Simmons

"And the darkest hour is just before dawn,” sang The Mamas & The Papas in 1967.

When the life-giving sun begins to descend earlier and earlier each day during the fall months, many of us become uneasy.

For earth’s earliest human inhabitants, it was a very frightening time! The sun that they worshipped seemed to be punishing them; the growing season was over, many animals hibernated, food became scarce, the days and nights were cold and dark.

As the darkness deepened, our early ancestors sought to remember the light and summon its return.

When, after the longest and darkest night, they saw the sun rising and strengthening, they celebrated the return of the light, of food, and of warmth. Their passage through that longest and darkest night generated a sense of hope.

The reverence and celebration of light -- particularly at the depth of winter's darkness -- transcends nations, religious beliefs, and historic periods.

Pagans sought to woo back the sun's light by lighting wreaths. Native Americans celebrate the rebirth of the sun and strength of budding life through various rituals.

Christians celebrate the light of the world, a holy Child, with lights on trees and rooftops. Jews celebrate the miracle of light by lighting a menorah. Hindus celebrate by lighting decorated candles and putting them in their windows in hopes of being blessed. African Americans celebrate family by lighting candles.

We, fortunate enough to live in sunny San Diego, experience winter nights grow longer and darker, yet our shorter days are generally filled with plenty of warm sunshine.

Yet, ever San Diegans are subject to a universal call that seems encoded in our DNA to rejoice once the light returns. How we celebrate, however, tends to be highly individualized.

So, wouldn’t it be lovely if our Downtown's emerging populace created our own holiday tradition to light the night? Imagine entire buildings decorated with lights ... maybe each building taking on a theme of color.

I wonder… Who will celebrate the light with lights?

At The Brickyard, residents are decorating the windows of their homes with white lights.

Natalie Anderson finds the lights festive and they remind her of the years of celebrating with family and friends. She reminisces about the happiness and the spirit of giving and receiving.

One couple finds the lights bring a magical atmosphere to a city.

Cheryl and Don Moore are perpetuating family traditions with their lights. Cheryl grew up with the tradition that Santa used the house lights for direction during his sleigh ride from the North Pole to the house where he would drop off presents. Now that she is a mom, she wants to pass down that tradition to her son.

No matter what your spiritual or religious belief, as the darkest hour transitions into the dawn, spend time to pause on the inhale, taking it deep into the core of your being, and exhale into the coming of the light. Happy holidays! - December 2005

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