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Light Up

I love Christmas lights. I love how the dark nights are made just a little brighter with the lights from a house or a tree. I especially love white lights. Just a simple row of white lights around a tree or framing a house sends a warm glow through my heart. Just as magical for me is the simple glow of a candle. I’m amazed at how such a small light can often seem to warm a whole room or even create a sense of calm and peace.

This concept of lighting up a room really hit home for me when I was writing my book, Because of 4. I was doing some research and came across a blog by Brené Brown. She described how her parenting paradigm shifted because of something Toni Morrison said in an interview. Morrison talked about what happens when a child walks into a room and asked, “Does your face light up?” The idea is that when a child walks into a room we think we are showing our care by making sure their hair is combed or their pants are buckled, but what they see is a critical face.

I try to remind myself of this, especially now that my daughter is away at college. When she comes bounding through the door, I want my smile to be the first thing she sees. I want her to know I’m happy she’s home. I want my face to light up the room just like the Christmas tree. This isn’t always easy. Some days in parenting can seem dark. When our kids are struggling with academics or a social or emotional situation, it can feel hopeless. It can feel easier to offer suggestions or try to help solve the problems. But often what this conveys is not love and caring, but criticism. Morrison suggests instead to “let your face speak what’s in your heart.”

During this Christmas season, we often have opportunities to meet with family and friends. Remember to be a light. You don’t need to be flashy or colorful or the life of the party. If that’s you, by all means, continue to be who you are and light away. But it’s ok if you’re light is more like the simple white light or candle flicker conveying calm, peace and love. What’s important is that we shine our own lights and let those around us know what’s in our hearts.

Brown, B. (2019, August 21). What Toni Morrison Taught Me About Parenting. Retrieved from

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