Recently on my “Tea with Jess” Facebook Live video (I do these every Monday at 3 p.m. EST),I chatted about fireworks and grace. You can watch the video on Facebook.

As part of my chat, I read a favorite Sanity Check column (originally published in the Dayton Daily News), and I share it again here. For those who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas holiday, and happy holidays to all!

A few evenings ago, my family and I went out for dinner after a long Saturday of errands, chores, and activities. Not particularly remarkable, until our drive home.

Were those fireworks that we saw in the pitch dark sky?

On a bitterly cold Saturday night in December?

We quadruple-checked amongst ourselves and confirmed we really were seeing fireworks in December. And not just pretty-good-for-a-backyard-launch fireworks. A real, July-4-worthy fireworks display… only five months late, or seven months early, depending on how you like to look at things.

Now, as I mentioned, we’d all had a long day. And all we’d planned on doing after dinner was to go home and turn in early, since the next day promised to be busy, too.

But, suddenly, there were fireworks in the December sky, and our kids… for all their teenage posturing about being nearly grown-up… sounded just like they had as little girls, saying “Don’t go home yet! Find the fireworks’ location! Please, please, please, mom and dad?”

OK, that got us. It’s been awhile since our kids said “please, please, please,” in the manner of children.

So instead of turning right, toward home, my husband turned left, toward the fireworks.

A minute or so later, we found the source of the fireworks: someone was setting them off in a huge, wide yard. We pulled off the side of the road within yards of the fireworks’ set-up, and quickly realized this was no amateur endeavor; a fire truck was parked nearby, so whoever was putting on the display must have had a permit.

We weren’t the only people who’d followed the sight of the fireworks to their source. It’s hard to say, given how dark it was, but probably forty or more cars were parked on the sides of the road. And people were out, watching and cheering the display.

We, too, got out of our car and not only watched the fireworks display, but, close as we were, also felt it, reverberating through our bodies.

It was beautiful, not just because fireworks always are, but because it was such a surprise…

Fireworks in December…

Lighting up the sky.

Inviting anyone who saw them to come a little closer, take a little break, from the hustle of everyday life. From the extra hustle of the holiday season.

I have no idea who decided to put on the fireworks display, or why. Maybe in celebration of the season, of a birthday, of a special event?

I’ve been thinking about it ever since that evening, and realized that the “who” and “why” of the fireworks isn’t so important.

What’s important to me is the simplicity of the event. People saw, and responded to, and took delight from the lovely surprise of December fireworks, without planning or scheduling or deciding we’ll do this instead of that.

Sure, our kids gave us the child-like urging of “please?” but it took us only a micro-second to respond “yes!” and turn left, toward something unexpected and touching and lovely, instead of right, toward the familiar and comfortable and planned.

I wonder… maybe this is the real gift of this season: Rediscovering how to say yes, like a trusting child, to a surprising display of beauty when it beckons, unbidden, unpaid for or planned for, like streaming stars of light in a dark December sky… like grace itself.

Stay well,