This is a rerun of my “This Little Light” Road Signs column from 2020. While my RVelectricity™ column is normally about electrical issues, let’s take a break from electrical problems and pause a few moments to reflect on the joys of Christmas Past and Present.
We all need the inspiration of great storytellers like Paul Harvey more than ever in these trying times. And hopefully this great story will inspire you to write something about your own Christmas traditions in the comments below.
So, do you have a memory about making cookies with your grandma? Or trying to get the family car started in sub-zero temperatures? Or how about a holiday engagement or wedding? First Christmas as a new Grandparent? Anything that gives you warm memories is great. So please watch or listen to Paul Harvey and post a comment about your own holiday story. See you in 2022…
By Mike Sokol and Paul Harvey
Each of us has (or, at least, should have) some sort of holiday tradition. Of course, many of these holiday traditions will be built around your own upbringing and culture. But for every culture that I’ve ever interacted with there seems to be a common thread.
The winter months seem to be the best time to reflect on our ancestors and the various faiths we were brought up in. I think everyone can agree that memories of our parents, their own parents, and their parents’ parents are important to us since they help define where we came from and who we are.
When I first heard this Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story” piece about “This Little Light” back in the ’70s, I was moved. And I would listen for it every year on my local AM radio station. Alas, that station is long gone and I haven’t heard “This Little Light” for a few decades. But I dug up a copy for you to listen to and perhaps be moved as I was so long ago.
So please spend the next 4 minutes with the master of storytelling, Paul Harvey. And feel free to comment below about any of your own favorite holiday traditions. And do you remember Paul Harvey’s amazing storytelling ability fondly like I do?
Listen to an audio file of “This Little Light” below, or listen to it with accompanying Christmas lights on the YouTube video that I’ve put together by clicking on the image of the lights, above. [Editor: This is beautiful.] And if you want to relive more of Paul Harvey’s TROTS (The Rest of the Story[s]), you can find the Internet’s largest archive of them HERE.
You can also read the transcript of “This Little Light” below:
Hello, Americans. I’m Paul Harvey. You know what the news is. In a minute, you’re going to hear the rest of the story….
Jimmy Robinson looked forward to Christmastime each year for a thousand reasons – but for one in particular– the lighting of the old Christmas tree bulb. For all of his parents’ holiday decorations, the most special was a strand of Christmas lights with a score of replacement bulbs in it and one original one – one clear white Christmas light that had come with the set and which had continued to burn brightly season after season.
Oh, there was no mistaking that one bulb – it was the very last one on the string. And it was slightly different from the newer ones – not only in outward appearance, but in a … in a magical, indefinable something in its glow.
So for Jimmy Robinson, Christmastime carried with it a unique anticipation. He and Dad would bring home their Christmas tree, they’d get out the ornaments and the lights. Then before any other decoration was removed from the big dusty cardboard box, that one old strand of tree lights would be taken from it. And as Jimmy held his breath, wishing hard, Dad would ceremoniously plug it in. And each and every season that last light on the string, the only original bulb left, would light up and shine as brightly as ever before.
All of the other bulbs in the set had been replaced. Many of the replacements had been replaced, but that very last light continued to glow for the Robinson family each Christmas like a dear and ageless relative dropping in for the holidays. And Christmases passed and over the seasons subsequent, Jimmy grew up, left hometown Baldwin, Missouri, to see what lay beyond.
He became a Colonel James Robinson, a chaplain in the United States Army, stationed here and abroad. Yet each and every Christmastime, wherever his post, Colonel Robinson received a telephone call from back home in Baldwin from his dad, Walter Robinson. And the news was always the same, told in the same delighted, excited voice: “It lighted up again, son. That same old Christmas light is still burning bright!”
Medical science is only beginning to comprehend the power of Mind Over Malady, confirming that the way a patient thinks can steer the course of any disease – multiple sclerosis, in particular … multiple sclerosis, in particular. In fact, there’s such a demonstrable cause and effect between one’s mental attitude and MS that doctors are sometimes reluctant to diagnose it for fear of worsening the disease with the news.
Conversely, perhaps no other illness responds so quickly or so dramatically, to hope. You see, Jim Robinson’s dad, Walter, for decades, had MS. He had multiple sclerosis. In its course, there were ups and downs. And yet, there was no “up” ever any higher than the exhilaration from an annual ritual in which a solitary Christmas tree light defied the dark – one brave little light, ablaze each Christmas ever since the strand was first purchased by Jim Robinson’s grandfather in 1918.
By this holiday season, both of Jim’s parents are gone. But the Christmas light … the Christmas light … that same original bulb on his sister’s Christmas tree, shines on … in a way, for us all.
Now you know … the rest of the story.