ATTLEBORO — Between the coronavirus pandemic and a surgery that left her bedridden for several weeks, Cindy Sulaiman spent the summer indoors, feeling low and isolated as the state lifted its springtime pandemic restrictions and warmer weather called people outdoors for some semblance of normalcy once again.
As fall kicked in, the Attleboro woman started feeling better. But winter is looming, and with coronavirus cases once again on the rise, Sulaiman needed something to look forward to.
So, she started a small Facebook page — Light Up The Winter — and is asking others to join her in decorating their houses and front lawns beyond typical Christmas displays to create a longer season of joy.
“I just thought about how awful winter will be,” Sulaiman, 58, said. “Many of us can’t get together for big family celebrations. Even our family of eight of us, just locally, is going to have to make some tough decisions.
“I thought, how can we make it a little better for everyone?”
The idea came to her through the colorful lights often seen as winter months close in: Why not extend the same effort to other holidays?
She listed every holiday she could find, from every religion or background, until the end of December on her Facebook page in an effort to also make the event inclusive.
“I think there are probably kids of different faiths, who are not Christian, who feel left out around the holidays,” she said. “Their holidays, people might not know much about them, even though they’re celebrated at the same time. Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated around Dec. 25.
“I think it’s important for them to be able to drive around and see themselves represented, too.”
Sulaiman started with Halloween, building a candy chute to safely deliver treats to costumed neighbors, and added in decorations to honor the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 to remember friends and family members who have died.
Next is Diwali, an Indian holiday that falls on Nov. 14 and celebrates the “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.”
She ordered a yard sign to recognize the day and will keep purple and orange lights outside. She’ll add red to that mix for Thanksgiving, alongside a blow-up turkey. And multi-colored lights will stay on for Christmas.
“If people pick three or four holidays, and keep their homes lit throughout the winter, I think it gives people a chance to get outside and drive around with their families,” she said, noting that colder weather and the pandemic would once again shutter people indoors.
“I have seasonal affective disorder, so this time of year is always depressing for me. I’ve always got a blue light on in the winter, but I just wanted to do something more so other people can benefit, too. And this is just something to do. It keeps me busy and keeps me planning, and I’m enjoying doing it.”