Christmas is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but the reality is many families struggle during this time. 


As a young girl, I recall such a Christmas. My father had recently lost his job, so there was a heaviness in our home. He was a proud man and I’m sure as a father he wanted to provide for his family.

One cold December night, my father announced that we should  all jump in the car for a surprise. My two older brothers and I bundled up and crawled in the backseat of our 2-Door Pontiac. Mom and Dad sat in the front. What would the surprise be?

Dad pulled out of the driveway and said with a twinkle in his eye that we were going on a “Treasure Hunt.” How exciting!  A “Treasure Hunt” to find… wait for it… Christmas lights!  We drove up and down the streets and started to sing Christmas carols together as our noses were pressed against the iced windows. The first one to spot colorful Christmas lights would yell out and we would all turn our heads and “oooh” and “ahhhh.” My dad had a great voice with which he bellowed out Jingle Bells, Fa-la-la-la-las and Joy to the World. Laughter, giggles and smiles filled our car. Mom even pulled out a candy cane she had hidden deep in her coat pocket .  She snapped it into five pieces and we each popped a piece in our mouths. “Yummy, peppermint!”  Now the sense of taste joined the sense of sound and sight. Total Christmas magic!

That’s all we did that night and it didn’t cost a thing! Dad became our hero! It was obvious  he loved making the family happy!   Just being together in that car and looking for those Christmas lights glowing underneath the cover of fresh snow and in the windows of warm houses gave us a “Moment," which has turned into a “Memory” that still lingers inside me 60 years later. 

The ones who displayed those lights that Christmas will probably never know how they affected our family that year. 

Bonnie Booko
(River Lights of Wonder Director)

Special thanks to Joe Wickey and Family, C&B Pump Service, Terry Benn, Steve Reed, Mike Lancaster, Charlie Ratering, John and Michelle Harrold, and many others who gave of their time and resources to make River Lights of Wonder a reality!

River Lights of Wonder has been recognized by various local news outlets, including WWMT News Channel 3! If you’d like to view their stories, follow the links below:

WWMT News Channel 3

Jessica Wheeler Facebook Live Report

If you would like to give back financially to River Lights of Wonder and help bless others, follow the link below.

If you’re looking for other opportunities to invest in our community during this holiday season, please consider contributing to Hope United. Hope United is a network of local churches and agencies coming together to provide support, help, and love to those in need in St. Joseph County Michigan. For more information about Hope United, click here. To donate to Hope United, click the button below.

Click the photo below for more information about Christmas candle-light services being held at Riverside Church on December 22nd (5 & 7pm) and December 23rd at (9am & 11am).