Over the years (decades), we have taken the Newfs with us on night drives to see Christmas light displays. Mostly, the reaction has been, “meh”. What entertains humans is sometimes a mystery to Newfs.

This year, Central Park in Carthage is lit up with strings of lights encircling the trees, some white, some gold, with red, green and blue interspersed. About a block from the square through a canopy of lights, a Santa’s Village area has been constructed, with climbing belts, an “ice” rink (membrane that endures ice skates), snowmen and a lot of activity.

Christmas Lights - Central Park 2021
Christmas Lights – Central Park 2021, landscape

Joy is clearly transmissive. When we become aware of the joy of another being, it has the ability to free us from our daily concerns, to reprioritize our awareness. And when we smile sincerely, we share our joy with others. Banner loves to share her joy.

We took her for a walk at the park on Friday evening, our first since the project was completed. She lit up. People were happy and energy was radiating throughout the park as people continued to arrive. This part of town was filled with people making happy sounds, some walking with their dogs. Banner directed us around the park, then took one of the trails into the park. [Mom was in the background saying, “OK, but your vet said to keep this short.” She has an appointment next week about an injury, but like most Newfs, there are priorities that interfere with pain reception, or provide some temporary relief under certain circumstances as long as they don’t overdo it.]

The weather has been fabulous for being outside, with near 70s for humans and cool ground for Newfs. On Saturday, she wanted to lie outside by the van as she has done for the past several weekends, while we (or I) work inside. I read what she was hoping and reprioritized. The next steps were two-person work, and Greg wasn’t here, so I opened the side door and began reviewing, thinking about how to overcome a challenge involving three-dimensional angles and curves. I did a couple of minor things, and after a while I told her that I had to run some errands. She had been out long enough to mostly satisfy her longing.

When I got back just before dark, she wanted to go outside with some level of urgency, as though she needed to take care of some outdoor business. That wasn’t it. I encouraged her anyway, and she obliged. When she came back running, she didn’t want to go inside. Instead, she tried to lead me back to where the cars are parked. This is a form of a Newfoundland request. We had already gone to the park for a morning walk, but she clearly wanted to go again. Then I realized that she remembered how much fun it was last night. I contacted Greg, who said he could be back by 8.

Rather than decrease her enthusiasm, I took her inside and told her that we needed to make dinner first. She wasn’t buying it, even though liver [her favorite] was cooking on the stove. She had approved the selection for dinner not long before, but her interest was clear. And again, like a good Newf often does, she took her disappointment for granted and laid down. By the time that Greg had arrived, her thoughts were on dinner, but when the invitation was made to leave, even with dinner cooling on the stove, she quickly accepted with little ambivalence.

Her genuine happiness at these experiences is uplifting, and she shares joy in every interaction. Her happy gait and dance, with her head up, brings a smile from people who stop to watch from their car window or who stop to pet her on the sidewalk, and this is increased with each interaction. There may be a remaining Scrooge or two, people who can resist the collective influence of social joy, but perhaps they experience a certain kind of joy in their critical views. Banner is happy to do her part, in any case.

Afterward we drove around looking at displays in the neighborhood, then we cruised on to the Vietnamese monastery, where there is an elaborately lighted drive-thru celebration of the Bible. The lines were too long, so we skirted two sides and drove home. Maybe another time. She seemed to be wearing out on the lights by then. The lights are only interesting when they make people sparkle.

Christmas Lights - Central Park 2021, Greg & Banner just before dark
Christmas Lights – Central Park 2021, Greg & Banner
Christmas Lights - Central Park 2021, early in the evening
Christmas Lights – Central Park 2021, early in the evening
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