Last night we were part of an annual tradition for many here in Tucson – we walked through Winterhaven.
Winterhaven is an entire square ½ mile neighborhood where virtually everyone decorates their homes for the holidays. With the exception of two or three nights of the two-week Festival of Lights, traffic is confined only to walking. Over the course of that two weeks, 60,000 people will stroll aimlessly, staring at display after display of color and art and beauty.
Winterhaven is always pure joy, and last night was no exception. The thing that is always striking, though, is that of all the hundreds of homes in Winterhaven, there are only two where people stop, gather, claw to get to the front. The obvious one – the one where fountains and lights are synchronized to music – is not the one I feel the need to visit every year.
It is the second house that calls to me and amazes me. That is the house with the Wishing Tree.
Every year, the family who creates the Wishing Tree sets a folding table at the curb of their home, garnished with strips of construction paper, crayons, markers, staples and tape. Visitors are invited to write their wishes on those strips, and to attach those wishes to a huge pine tree in a chain that drapes to the ground and around the girth, layer after layer.
People wait, ten and twenty and thirty at a time, to write down their wishes and pin them to the tree.
Every year, I want to be sure we walk by the Wishing Tree, and obviously I’m not alone. Kids may wish for toys and games, but the adults are all wishing for peace and health, for loved ones and for the world.
There is something in us that is miraculous, this desire for something better. Every year as we stroll through Winterhaven, that desire for a better world comes sweeping over me.
And I smile to think that the biggest competition for the house with the synchronized lights is a lone tree, some construction paper, and the human spirit.
(Shaky Photo Credit: All mine, I’m afraid)