My love for Christmas is well documented (ignore the things that my workmates may tell you). It’s important for communities to mark seasonal moments together. In Lightmoor one of these important seasonal celebratory moments happened recently. It was the second Lightmoor Christmas Lights Switch On and Bring and Share Feast. As Lightmoor is still young compared to its big sister community in Bournville I sometimes get the feeling that if you do something more than twice, boom, you’ve created a tradition. Yes, other communities have Christmas Lights Switch On events and, yes, other communities gather together and feed themselves but last Christmas there was such a special feeling at the event. (I think there’s something profound when communities gather together, look out for one another and break bread together. It’s a wonderful, beautiful thing)
A small-ish group of residents gathered at the Oak Tree Centre, wrapped up warm and ready to sing. People had popped their plates of sandwiches, party food and cake into the centre ready for feasting afterwards. Then everyone gathered around the live Christmas tree (none of your fake trees please and thank you, this one is firmly rooted in Lightmoor soil) with a less-live band and sang their hearts out. The recorded music wasn’t quite loud enough for everyone to hear, people set off into the song at slightly different moments and with different words. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t slick, it wasn’t going to win any awards but that didn’t matter to me, to the others there, it was absolutely authentic. It was absolutely community. And then the fake snow started.
Whilst it may not be Christmas Eve Carols from Kings College with pomp, ceremony and hundreds of years of tradition I hope that some of the wonky authenticity remains for years to come as the community grows and evolves. At Christmas in Lightmoor there’s always a space at the table for new arrivals to the community, for strangers passing through and for people seeking somewhere to belong. It’s far more than bricks, mortar, special sculpture and a pretty wall mounted clock. It’s an open community, a table laden with food and a warm welcome.