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Holiday lights grace the Old City Hall for the annual festival held to mark the opening of the Christmas season in Downtown Denham Springs. In addition to the lights on the historic building, extensive decorations and lighting were dedicated at the small park on the other side of the structure.

The lights of Christmas have arrived once again, their presence in the south Louisiana landscape such a reliable part of the holidays that the dazzle of the season seems inevitable.

But as those of us of a certain age can recall, the high-wattage brilliance of Yuletide dimmed a bit in 1973, when a national energy shortage prompted many Americans to cut back on their electric decorations.

That year, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, proclaimed an embargo of oil supplies to the United States and other countries to discourage them from continued support of Israel.

Around Jefferson: Lafreniere to light up for the holidays

America, deeply reliant on Arab oil, embraced various ways to conserve energy, including reduced holiday lighting. “From New York City to Portland, from Houston to Phoenix and from Los Angeles to Ludlow Falls, store owners, municipal officials and neighborhood leaders are pitching in to save electricity, just as President Nixon urged in his recent energy conservation plea,” The New York Times noted at the time. “Sometimes this means using smaller Christmas bulbs, lighting them for shorter periods or storing lights away altogether and substituting nonelectrical decorations. In some places, the conservation moves have aroused strong feelings of participatory patriotism.”

These days, the United States is much more energy independent, which has other dividends beyond the holidays. It’s in our national interest not to depend on the whims of Middle Eastern governments that don’t always or even usually share our values. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian assassins underscores that reality.

Louisiana has had a huge role in advancing America’s energy independence. America’s Christmas season is bright this year because of that contribution, a gift that sustains this great country throughout the year.