It's the first weekend of December -- time to consider a simple act of giving. I'm talking Christmas lights, here -- big blinking bulbs on your bushes and eaves. Get 'em up, and get 'em up now.
Studies show that lights make us happy. Colors stimulate the senses, much like the kaleidoscopes we enjoyed in our youth. Folks who put up lights are also perceived as more generous and connected to their communities. It's a win-win for everyone, including the electric company.
While I'm on the subject of Christmas, this weekend kicks off a myriad merry events, including Friday night's tree lighting party at Jack London Square. A 57-foot Mt. Shasta fir with 5,000 lights -- along with Santa, two reindeer and a troop of tap-dancing trees -- should draw a crowd.
Another tradition Friday is the 8 p.m. free Christmas concert with orchestra and choir at Ascension Cathedral -- aka the Greek Orthodox Church on Redwood Road. This is a wondrous way to ring in the holidays, especially if you leave time to take in the Mormon Temple's gloriously lit grounds next door.
Hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights will brighten the sky at the Oakland Zoo starting Friday. It's the largest holiday LED light show in the Bay Area and comes complete with a candy cane lane amusement park and a Christmas adventure train. ZooLights runs nightly through Dec. 31. Now that's what I call a lot of light therapy.
Around town: Merchants are getting ready for the Montclair Village Holiday Stroll on Thursday. It's a heartwarming tradition in which children sing carols and shop owners offer cookies, cider and hot mulled wine. Businesses stay open late until 8:30 p.m. and even the city shows its spirit with free parking in the garage from 5 to 9 p.m.
Tree tradition: The popular Christmas tree lot at Coaches Field in Piedmont is open again for the holidays. Annually for more than 40 years, the Boy Scouts and their families have set up and run the lot, selling some of the most beautifully shaped trees, wreaths and garlands in the area. But here's something you may not know. The Scouts even offer home delivery. Now that's service. The lot is open Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
And speaking of trees, this is the third year that neighbors are decorating the Redwood at the corner of Mandana Boulevard and Paloma. The youngster who started this Christmas tradition is Francesca Bauldry, who puts a box of ornaments under the tree and invites passers-by to put up a decoration. Pardon the pun, but I think Francesca should take a bough.