HOMES around the town remain lit up way beyond Twelfth Night as a beacon of hope during the pandemic.

Tradition states Christmas decorations should come down on or around January 6 but some have decided to do things differently this year – either as a tribute to loved ones or the key workers keeping them safe.

Jo Cook is keeping her Christmas lights up until she gets to hug her mum.

She said: “My mum Sue lives in Malvern in Worcestershire. I used to see her a few times a month. And now it’s a 20-minute phone call or socially distanced so you feel like it’s not complete and you really lose that touch.

“We would rather not be together because it’s too painful,” she added. 

“It’s not a very nice feeling not being able to hug my mum.

Swindon Advertiser: Jo Cook’s Christmas lights for her mum and the key workers Photo: Jo CookJo Cook’s Christmas lights for her mum and the key workers Photo: Jo Cook

“When people started putting up the lights for Christmas, it was a glow and a warmth.

It’s a beacon until I get to see her. I’ve driven around a few places and they look so pretty so I kept my lights up as I live in a village. 

“I think they’re really sweet and obviously a lot went down on the Twelfth Night. But could it get any worse, I’m not superstitious like that. And mine is staying up until I can go to my mum's and hug her and hold her hand and she can stroke my hair.

Jo, from Wanborough, has an artificial tree outside, lights on the porch and around the fence.

Swindon Advertiser: Jo Cook’s Christmas lights for her mum and the key workers Photo: Jo CookJo Cook’s Christmas lights for her mum and the key workers Photo: Jo Cook

The 48-year-old added: “Hopefully it will give key workers hope that we’re all in this darkness together. It makes me feel like I’m not alone and that we are reaching out with the lights, saying we are still here.

“It’s not about Christmas it’s about knowing someone is there. As I don’t go out much, seeing the lights is like – wow, they’re so pretty. You get that closeness and it gives me that warm feeling. 

“I’m not going to take them down till I get that hug. I will happily leave mine on - all day and all night. They don’t cost a lot to run. They give me a buzz about life and in the doom and gloom, it is a little something to keep me going.

Jo’s grandson’s helped decorate the house.

She added: “I would love to see more people joining in and putting lights in the window, even if it’s something small. It means we can come together even though we don’t know each other, we can still be together. It could just be some fairy lights, there is something magical about them.”

Another suggestion is to swap Christmas decorations for rainbows to thank NHS workers. 

Lisa Kear, from Lower Stratton, is also keeping her lights up.

She suggested people could switch lights on as an alternative to the Thursday night clap for carers.

She said: “I’ve got fairy lights in the window. With the clapping it’s cold and I don’t want to spread germs. I think this is going to be going on for a lot longer than March so when people come home late, it’s a nice little gesture.

“When NHS workers come home in the dark, it gives them a lift. It’s quite depressing with Covid but the lights are really pretty and it’s like shining a light for them. 

“They could do it for an hour, if they are worried about the electric bill,” she added. 

“Hopefully more people will do the lights in Swindon.

“I just want people to know I’m thinking of them and hopefully get the word out so lots of people know. Maybe this could even spread into different countries.”
If you want to join in and take pictures of your lights, add the hashtag #keyworkersshinebright