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The Christmas season was approaching and she felt an overwhelming sadness. The world around her seemed sad too. Distressing news abounded- from the biggest of stories to the heart-breaking ones that few ever heard. Even the weather seemed dismal at times: cold and dreary.

One star-lit night, she found herself driving a familiar road. It was cold again and her ears were red from the sting of the frigid evening air. Her nose right down to her toes were froze. And she sighed as she turned the key in the ignition and started up the engine. Frost sparkled on the floor mat, reminding her yet again of all she was leaving behind. Warmth, light, family.

As she drove, she looked at the houses, cozy and inviting. Lights shone through curtained windows and it appeared as though all the rest of the world was tucked away for another night. All except her.

She noticed to her right a window in a smallish house where a half-hidden Christmas tree twinkled with white lights. And when she saw that tree, she felt an immediate burst of irritation rise from within. “Who would be so crazy as to put up a Christmas tree in mid-November?” she asked herself rhetorically. “Don’t they know- Christmas isn’t for another month and a half? Besides, the world is not a peaceful, happy place. The world isn’t ready for Christmas yet.”

She continued driving on in silence. And when she got home later that night, she wrote with great feeling her emotions upon viewing earlier that night the festively, decorated window scene. She wrote with an underlying sadness. For she felt empty and lonely and worn. She wrote how she was not ready for Christmas and all its abounding expectations. She wrote about how Christmas had become another chore on her endless list. And she wrote that she was trying to ready herself this year to receive Christmas- for it was time to shift the focus away from giving until one was stripped bare and ragged. Until one had nothing left to give.

It was time to receive Christmas for a change.

And she thought about this idea of receiving Christmas for many days afterwards.

A few weeks later, just hours before the Advent calendars would be placed carefully on the mantle and the Christmas candles would be dusted off and set in their seasonal positions, the girl found herself again driving. And as she drove she came into area where a light dusting of snow covered hills and valleys as if it was flour thrown from a cup to land wherever it may. It was exquisitely beautiful.

Later still that same morning, the girl found herself sitting in a room full of people waiting for her turn to speak her piece. And in the quiet moments before the calm became a storm of activity- a flurry of busyness, she noticed outside a window directly in her line of view: snow softly falling. So delicately and free. And her eyes took in that one tiny moment first before noticing everything else around her- the hubbub of happy people, the beautiful garland strung gracefully from corner to corner across ceiling beams, accented by red and silver ornaments, the wire nesting trees set carefully on a table- and all of it creating a festive, happy mood.

And she happened to see out of the corner of her eye tucked away in the farthest corner of the room- a Christmas tree, partially hidden from view because of the large screen set up for the LCD projector.
Her eyes stayed on that tree for several moments. For it was truly beautiful. And something inside that girl burst. She saw the tree for what it was, not for what it reminded her. And she realized that it no longer served as a harsh reminder of all that she was not feeling and could not express. It was just a thing of beauty in spite of everything it stood for. And the girl looked back again toward the window, taking in the intricate flurry of snowflakes swirling in mid-air, and she thought to herself: “Surround yourself with beauty. Because life is beautiful in spite of it all.”

And of course, she realized, it is: life is beautiful. And in life, there is beauty. And when one looks for the beauty, all else pales in comparison. All the complicated, messiness of life starts to fade into a blur, where edges are harder to define. Where joy and sorrow meet and shake hands and declare a truce.

Where life becomes wildly wonderful even in the midst of pain and heartache.

And as the girl watched the snow fall softly, she realized she too had found a soft place to land- a place where she could find herself safely supported even as things fell apart and unravelled around her. Because just as no two snowflakes are ever going to be the same, neither will two lives ever follow exactly the same course. And that’s okay. Life is what is made of it. And it can be beautiful.

It really can.

Even when it is falling.


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