Sure, the holiday season is not the same this year.

Health officials recommend avoiding travel, coronavirus vaccines aren’t yet widely available and outdoor gatherings are a little more difficult amid the wintry weather.

But there’s still a lot of good going on if you keep your eyes open.

There’s Brian Floyd, of Bonney Lake, whose Sky Island neighbors have gone all out for Christmas since the idea first developed 22 years ago. Those moving into the neighborhood are “warned” about the yearly efforts, and friends collaborate on decorations.

This year, Floyd’s family, which joined the neighborhood about three years ago, is raising money for the Bonney Lake food bank using yard signs, a text-messaging service and a website that directs people to the donation campaign online. They also match donations and have a bin out front for food donations.

“It’s been a long year for the community and the food bank,” Floyd wrote in response to a Seattle Times request for reader-submitted photos of holiday lights. “Our neighborhood evacuated because of wildfires, and the fire crept right up near our homes. The food bank, under new leadership and with the help of the National Guard, has pulled itself out of a perilous position, all while dealing with unprecedented demand due to COVID.

“The lights are something that bring joy every year, and are something we made sure to have up early to get everyone in the spirit.”


And there’s Peter and Cheri Kopp, of Port Townsend, who spent the weekend after Thanksgiving creating serenity by outlining their house and studio with lights on timers and a hanging lamp at their “little house in the backyard.”

Cheri Kopp says she “loves the way the light bounces off the buildings, fences and the labyrinth in our backyard. Ours is an elegantly lit oasis in the midst of the forest of tall trees that grow around us, despite the fact that we live within the city limits. Such is life on the Olympic Peninsula. … I’ll be enjoying this display long into the winter as it lights my path home from the studio in the evening.”

Whatever you do to celebrate the season, know you’re not alone.

The Seattle Times has collected readers’ holiday lights photos since earlier this month. It’s one way we’re staying connected with the community this season, particularly in a year when people say they’re more likely than ever to go big for the holidays.

“Are we getting more attuned to all the lights, or have they always been evidence that on a very basic level that someone was outside and there to put up the lights?” asks Nancy Goldov, a Seattle-based psychologist and member of the Washington State Psychological Association, who says people know this winter is looking dark for many.

Goldov said it’s customary in Jewish tradition to put the menorah in the window during Hanukkah. It serves a purpose, which may extend beyond Judaism to a broader context during the pandemic, to say, simply and quietly: “We are here.”