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Light and Life

The day after Thanksgiving started quietly. Soft pajamas. A mug of tea. Softly falling snow. A visit with a friend. My television stayed off. My phone remained in the other room.

So at first I missed the news of the shooting that happened 15 minutes from my house in Colorado Springs. The 5-hour ordeal that left the community shaken and three families grieving and shattered.

That was what my mind was consumed with when I walked into my basement that night to get my Christmas decorations. I stood under the bare bulb and looked at the four plastic bins overflowing with nativity scenes and glitter. Snowmen and burlap. Pine cones and sequins.

I couldn’t do it.

I sat on the cold cement floor, snow piling up in the window well behind me, and I dug through those bins, desperate for something that would make the cold and darkness flee.

In 15 minutes, I hauled one plastic bin upstairs. From it I pulled candles and glass dishes of Christmas balls. I placed them side by side on my coffee table, and the silver ornaments grabbed the flickering light, multiplying and magnifying.

I placed more candles on my kitchen table next to a simple nativity scene. Light of the world, flanked by delicate flames, quivering but bright.

On the mantle I wove greenery dotted with red berries. Life and growth. On the windows, green wreaths silhouetted against gray, snow swirled sky.

The last step was the Christmas tree. I knew I needed a real one. One that would leave my hands sticky with sap and my home perfumed with pine. I dragged it in the house, crusted with snow, its limbs pulled tight against the trunk.

I needed to see that tree come to life. To watch its branches slowly unfold. To wind white lights among the green.

It has been nearly a month since that day. Weeks filled with more destruction. Hate. Death.

And I have sat in living room each night, every candle flickering. Fighting the dark.

I have sat with my back to the wall, huddled next to my tree, inhaling the sweet smell of pine. Remembering that there is still good in the world. Life. Even when it’s hard to find.

I have prayed. For life. For light.

O come. O come. Emmanuel.

Brandy Campbell

Brandy is a full-time writer at an international organization that works with more than 1.2 million children in poverty. She is a writer, a storyteller, a yarn spinner and a pen pal. She's also a baker, a world traveler, a daughter, a friend and an aunt. She hates mornings, olives, cheap pens, snakes and splinters.

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