Back when I was still a youngster in Rose Hill, my dad had several vehicles, including two Cadillac cars and three Studebaker pickup trucks simultaneously.

He was especially enthused with Chryslers, Plymouths and Willys automobiles.

My dad went through the Great Depression and worked for many years at aircraft plants, plus was a deputy sheriff. This gave him a somewhat stern or tough outer countenance, but he had his jovial side, too.

On several Christmases, we had a short, plastic Santa Claus that could be illuminated at night. It looked good with snow on the ground and gave the neighborhood a happy touch of holiday spirit.

On one Christmas, my dad put Santa Claus in the driver’s seat of his pure-white 1956 Cadillac. Our entire house, several outdoor evergreen trees, as well as that car was lit up with Christmas lights. It generated lots of smiles and a long trail of gawkers.

On occasion, we (as a family) would tour other neighborhoods — and even other towns — glancing at the holiday lights.

My dad was a steadfast Christian who radiated a quiet inner dignity toward exemplifying Christian principles daily on a year-round basis.

My mother, being a lifelong Roman Catholic, also radiated a quiet outer dignity in exemplifying good Christian principles.

My mom’s emphasis on outward pious ritual was a nice complement to my dad’s emphasis on inward reverent action coupled with good deeds by both of them. As scripture tells us: Faith without works is dead.

This setting was not unique. Our neighbors complemented each other. The Baptist teacher lived happily next door to a Jewish banker. The Presbyterian hardware store man practiced his trade adjacent to the Methodist grocer. The Eastern Orthodox clothing salesman lived cheerfully alongside a Mormon mechanic.

As we enjoyed holiday lights by night, we didn’t worry about the owners’ religious preferences by day. How wonderful!

Peaceful and polite cooperation among the whole citizenry at-large enables our freedoms of religious worship to flourish.

Let us enjoy our holiday lights. Even those homes that are not illuminated by the owner’s preferences (or due to expense) should not be overlooked.

May we always let the “light of our smile” shine unto all. True Christmas spirit relies on a quiet dignity and inner reverence as we recall the birth of our Lord.

— Sincerely,

James A. Marples,