Musings over a walk in the neighbourhood with Christmas Lights

In August 2020, I went camping with my family. It was a good well-rested break in the woods, and we were back to basics. One of the activities there was to have a night walk without a torch. It was quite dark, and I could only see the outline of people. I had quite a few questions in my mind – What if I stamp on something, what if something crawls on me, what if I am bitten, or if I trip. I am sure my son had the same questions as he was holding on to me tight. But the peace and stillness of the night took over us and we slowly relaxed and became one with woods – still, quiet, and peaceful.

On our way back the leader was explaining about rod cells in our eyes and their capacity to give good vision in low light. However, we are so used to bright lights that we don’t use our rod cells enough. The less we use, the more we lose it. He said too many bright lights also impact insects and wildlife ecosystems. It was so interesting to get a new perspective, that I went back to understand more about light pollution and its impact on the ecosystem. (Do read about it)

Yes, light is beneficial in many ways. But occasionally I do try and give some exercise to my rod cells here and there. Sometimes the effort is futile because there is way too much light around us (both in and outside homes).


Yesterday when I took a walk outside late in the evening, all streets were dazzling in lights (It's Christmas!). If my children were to walk, it would surely excite them and give them a festive feeling. I too admire them. But somewhere in the back of my mind, my thoughts wonder what other species would feel when they see those bright lights? Maybe, no less of a feeling when someone drives on a high beam from the opposite side?

 My children did ask me last year for lights around the house. I did not refuse outright, but I explained if we can do something (still festive) but plastic-free. The lights come with plastic wires and those are thrown into the landfill after use (and it is used only once a year). I skipped the lights but still worked hard to keep it festive with food, craft, and games.

My daughter asked this year too – she said we could use wire copper lights (way less plastic). I am still conflicted - should I say yes, or no? For now, she has forgotten about it and is distracted by other events. But I do wonder, would it make any difference to other species when there is so much light around? And sometimes I imagine, the insects talking among themselves – Hey that house in the street is with low lights, may we should go there and have a Merry Christmas for ourselves!

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