Our toddler has a new routine this Christmas season. First thing in the morning, we hear the pitter-patter of her small feet running down the hall to the living room. She gets to the Christmas tree first and starts to blow—she’s hoping the lights will turn on. Next she turns to the garland and decorations above our entertainment center and blows again, hoping the lights will turn on with her breath. Her dad and I laugh and smile.

She learned from her dad that blowing on the lights will get them to turn on. So every day if the tree lights are off, she blows and waits expectantly for them to burn bright again.

Most days her dad asks me, “Is this mean?” We watch her run to the tree and use all her breath to turn on the lights. In her actions, we see her awe and excitement for all things Christmas. Her eyes are so big when the light, her laughter, her joy fill the room. We’ve needed that wonder and awe in our home.

But it’s not only our Christmas tree that is the recipient of her breath. When we walk around town and see other decorations, our daughter tries to blow the lights on. It’s as if she knows there should be light and that she can be the one to make the lights shine.

We wonder what she’ll do when our tree is taken down. Will she still run to the living room expecting to find the tree and decorations? Will she find something else to blow on, hoping lights will magically appear? I don’t know. But I do know that somehow in teaching her what seems to be a bit of foolishness she has learned an important truth—we can all bring light into the world.

I was looking forward to this Advent and Christmas season, anticipating what I could learn if I listened intently enough. The dark nights, the warm home, the lights shining—I was ready and waiting. And then the world, too, seemed to be getting darker and darker. The violence and war and uncertainty. The Syrian refugees fighting to stay alive. Everything was too much. I felt immobilized and didn’t know where to start to bring some semblance of hope into my life. I saw the lights but wondered if they made a difference. I wondered what difference I could make.

And then each day this season I woke to the sound of little feet. Hope running. Light shining. I’d see our daughter blowing on our tree every day. Waiting for the light. Knowing it would come. Our daughter thinks and believes that somewhere deep within her, she has the power to bring forth light. And that is a belief I won’t take from her.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

Read more about: