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France and Spain: A Celebration of Love and Lights

I will confess that I haven’t always been a fan of Christmas. Having grown up Jewish, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I spent that day peeking out the living room window, watching my friends riding their shiny new bikes around the neighborhood, while sitting there nibbling Hanukkah chocolates and twirling my dreidel. OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit with the chocolates and the dreidel, but there was just no way that my Hanukkah gifts would ever compete with the abundance of Christmas, and it felt like I just sort of drew the short straw. Fortunately, I have long since outgrown these childhood feelings, and as we travel around France and Spain, I find myself absolutely delighted by the Christmas celebrations here. They are truly something to behold.

We were fortunate enough to see the launch of the holiday markets and lights in several different cities. Perhaps most spectacular were the brilliant light shows (with music) in Montpellier which were projected against the facades of several of the city’s key public buildings. It was wonderfully orchestrated and quite captivating. We were also able to see the lights in Malaga Spain, and the Christmas markets in both Montpellier and Aix-en-Provence which feature some beautiful hand-made crafts from local artisans. They were each inspiring in that the entire city seemed to come out to see them and be together, and the atmosphere was one of exuberance and community.

As I stood there watching the brilliant light shows in Montpellier, I could feel myself being lifted out of the grip of the relentless commercialism that is so strong and prevalent this time of year and relaxing into the beauty and magic of a celebration which focuses on bringing wonder and delight to the people. That to me feels like the true spirit of this season. Bring a little joy, kindness, and love to those around you. Well-done Malaga, Montpellier, and Aix-en-Provence!

These events were easily the most beautiful and inspiring holiday celebrations I have experienced first-hand. I hope you enjoy the photos and the video . . . and of course, most importantly, I hope you enjoy your own celebrations. Of course, they need not be as grand or elaborate as what Carla and I were fortunate enough to see and experience. It may simply be a small gathering of family and/or friends breaking a little bread together. How you celebrate, and whatever you celebrate, my hope is that you bring as much joy, kindness, and love as possible to the table. The world needs it.

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