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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)

TITLE: A Light-Hearted Christmas
By Shirley McClay


“The tree doesn’t work, Mommy.” Seven-year-old Liam shouted from the living room.

Kara rolled out from under the warm blankets and shuffled into the living room to enjoy the Christmas tree lights with her youngest son on Christmas morning. But there were no lights. None. The tree was dark, the microwave was blank, and the DVD player was black.

She tried the light switch. Nothing. Blackness.

“Mooommmmm.” Liam was ready to burst into tears. She picked him up and ruffled his hair.

Stepping to the window, Kara swept the curtain aside and stared at a beautiful design on the window. Ice coated it completely and swirled in circles and whirls. “Uh-oh. Ben… you need to come see this.” A muffled grunt was the only reply to her call.

Kara took Liam back to her bedroom, stood him on the bed and gave him a grin in the dusky light coming from the dawn. The light was softly diffused by the iced windows but there was still enough to see a bit. “You wake Dad up, I’ll be back.”

She hurried to the front door and stepped out onto the wraparound porch. She had entered an alternate universe. Or so it felt. Everything… really, everything… was coated in a thick layer of ice.

It was Christmas Day and they had no electricity.

“Hey... you’re letting in the cold air.” Ben’s arms wrapped around her and he snuggled his face into her messy curls. “Come back inside and I’ll warm you up.” He tightened his arms and directed her back toward the door.

“We have a wood furnace, a gas stove, and a generator. We’ll be fine. No worrying.” He fell back onto the plush couch and pulled her down with him. Kara laid her head on his shoulder and burst into tears.

“I know what you’re thinking. It’s Christmas and part of the fun is the lights and the food. We’ll just make some new traditions this year.” His soothing voice calmed her.

Melanie, Christina, and Todd stumbled into the room and greeted the early morning as only teenagers can.

“What’s all the noise?"
“Why aren’t the Christmas lights on yet?”
“What time is it anyway?”

“Go look outside kids… it’s a very special start to an extra special Christmas.” Ben tucked a blanket around Kara’s legs as he talked.

“I can still make pancakes. It doesn’t change the gift situation. The turkey can still go into the oven. I guess it’s just the lights. Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas without the lights.” Kara thought out loud.

“We’ll figure it out… let’s think about this a minute.” Ben’s words were interrupted as the teens returned with a whirlwind of cold air, disappointment and awe.

“Have a seat guys… we need to talk. Mom isn’t crazy about the idea of Christmas without lights… so let’s get our brains in gear. What lights do we have other than our decorations.”

“Duh, Dad… none!”

“That was rude, Mel. Try again.” Ben’s voice held a warning.

They sat in silence for a while. “Hope is light.” Fifteen-year-old Christine was the philosopher of the family.

“Nice! Think about that a minute. Hope is a Christmas light. I like that. What else?” Ben sounded excited and Kara felt her heart begin to lift.

“Todd, how about you?”

“We’re lights. Whether we hide it under a bush or let it shine... how’s that for deep at oh-dark-hundred-in-the-morning?” Todd’s crooked grin coaxed a smile from Kara.

“It’s perfect. You‘re right.” This wasn’t so bad. When was the last time she and her seventeen-year-old son had shared such a tender smile between them?”

“Ok, Mel… your turn.” Kara heard the smile in her own voice now.

“You’re kidding. I really have to do this?”

“Yes.” Five voices answered her.

“Ok fine… eyes.” The brightening day illuminated the blank stares.

“I think I get it. Our eyes are the light of our body.” Christine’s voice held awe that her mouthy sister came up with such a great answer.

“Right. Are we done?”

“Nope. Liam… how about you?” Ben tossed a slipper at him.

“I got the best one, Dad!”

“Ok… shoot, kiddo.”

“It's Christmas, right? Jesus is the best Christmas light!” He bounced on the recliner as they stared at him.

“Ya know, squirt. You’re smarter than ya look.” His big brother tackled him and started a tickling war.

“I think we’ll have a very light-filled Christmas after all. Let’s go whip up some pancakes!”

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This article has been read 851 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan11/07/08
This started out well, and I liked your description of the ice on the windows.
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/08/08
I like your wise parents, who turned what could have been disaster into a teachable moment and the show of happiness that came to the family.
Joanne Sher 11/09/08
I love how they turned lemons into lemonade (LOL to coin a cliche'), and the wonderful answers each child came up with. Enjoyed this.
Lennie Litz11/10/08
Well done. The first half is strong and descriptive the story line seemed to trail off a bit. Good insight into the kids.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/10/08
I enjoyed the family's banter. You did a great job with age-appropriate dialogue. I had no problem following who said what.
Celeste Ammirata11/10/08
What a wonderful husband, knowing that Christmas lights were important to his wife, and desperate shed 'light' on the situation. I loved the family bonding here. And the description of the ice. Nicely done!
Leah Nichols 11/11/08
I liked it, pancakes and all. Course, my dad was always creative like that when the power went out in our house. :)
Loren T. Lowery11/12/08
Loved this and the creative angle it took to explore the many reasons lights are used at Christmas. I liked it, too, how each character had to stop and think about it, rather than recite something they may have heard elsewhere.

Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/12/08
This is a good reminder that when things don't go as we planned, with a little effort, we can still be happy.
Scott Sheets11/13/08
What a great story of turning difficulties into blessings. Your dialogue effectively captured the various family members and their personalities. Great Job and Great Message!