Giftmas 2022: Light in the Darkness

It’s December again, and it seems like in modern western culture that means stress. Stress about time commitments, family commitments or lack thereof, present-buying, present-wrapping, crowd-fighting, traffic backups… The list goes on and on. It’s all too easy for me to succumb to the stress of the season–until I remind myself that there are people right in my community dealing with much deeper, more fundamental causes of stress.

Unexpected job loss.

A sudden illness.

Expensive car repairs.

Forget about buying the right presents, there are plenty of people who right now are having to chose between buying groceries or paying the electric bill.

I’ve been there. I know how awful it feels. And I know how overlooked you can feel if you’re in that situation. That’s why I participate every year in Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas blog tour.

Giftmas 2022: Light in the Darkness

This year I’ve been struggling with my writing, trying to wrap up the badly-behaving Amethir series, and it often felt like the words were forced. I was stumbling through the darkness without enough light to read the map. So I tried something I haven’t done in a long time. I threw out the map.

On October 31 I decided to do NaNoWriMo with a completely new set of characters in a completely new world. So on November 1, when I sat down to write, I had no idea what was going to happen.

I sat down at my desk and lit a candle, and then I started to write.

Over the course of the next month, I often didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know what the words would be until I sat down at my computer. But every evening, I got home from work and I lit that candle, and it told me we were going to move forward together.

The thing about a candle is that it doesn’t illuminate a whole lot, by itself. It’s pretty, it’s atmospheric, sometimes it smells nice (mine are soy pine-scented candles, which are the only kind that don’t make me ill). But have you ever tried reading something with a candle? The light flickers sometimes, and you have to sit very still and very close to the candle.

And yet, if you fill a room with candles, you can see pretty well. Maybe it’s not enough for fine needlepoint or painting a watercolor, but it’s enough that you won’t stub your toe or trip over a piece of furniture. And sometimes, that’s all you need.

So I lit my candle every evening, and I wrote every evening, and I finished NaNoWriMo with 51,670 new words and some characters I really love.

Shining a Light

What does this have to do with Giftmas? Well, I think about how that tiny gleam of hope was what kept me moving forward every day. I didn’t know what was coming, I didn’t know how I would deal with what was coming, but I knew that candle was there for me.

Giftmas is about being that candle for someone else. It’s about a lot of us coming together to raise enough money for a whole lot of candles, in the form of food for people who don’t have the resources to buy food. And it’s about believing that there’s more light in the world than darkness, if we’re just brave enough to keep lighting candles.

The candle that led me through NaNoWriMo this year

Giftmas 2022

We’re raising money for Edmonton’s Food Bank, as we do every year. You can donate here: Our goal for the year is was $1000, and we’ve blazed right past that. As I post this, we stand at $1,118 donated, and we still have a few days to go.

Every dollar buys three meals. I’m bad at math, but that tells me we’ve fed more than 3,300 people so far. Maybe we won’t end world hunger this way, but we can be a light for those 3,300 people. We can tell them, “We’re here, we’re with you, and we’ll keep going forward together.”

Will you help us do that?


Giftmas Blog Tour

I’m not the only one doing this, of course! There are several other authors and book-lovers who are contributing to this blog tour. Please check out the full schedule, and if you’re in need of a little light yourself this year, see if you can find some.

Tuesday, November 29 – Introduction blog post

Wednesday, November 30 – Samantha L. Strong

Thursday, December 1 – Beth Cato

Friday, December 2 – Ashley

Saturday, December 3 – Paula Johanson

Sunday, December 4 – Iseult Murphy

Monday, December 5 – Me!

Tuesday, December 6 – Stephanie L. Weippert

Wednesday, December 7 – Jemima Pett

Thursday, December 8 – Wrap-up post

Friday, December 9 – Final fundraising totals

Even if you can’t donate financially, your gift of attention, of spreading the word on social media, and of encouragement is also very appreciated.

Happy Holidays, and Merry Giftmas!


  1. That’s interesting. I often get given candles, and I never really know when to light them. I did light one at the weekend when I was reading, but I don’t know that it made much difference. It was nice, though.
    Maybe I’ll try it as a writing aid next time :)

  2. Pingback: 2022 Giftmas Wrap-Up | Rhonda Parrish

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