Tag Archives: Christmas

5th Day of Christmas

Christmas bloom

My mom grew one of these for many, many years. She always called it Christmas Cactus*. I took cuttings from her plant about 15 years ago. It is not the most beautiful plant – until it blooms each winter. It usually is a bit neglected and then I go into care mode and it rewards my feeble efforts with flower love.

* Schlumbergera truncata – I think!

Christmas Day

It was to be a quiet Christmas Day for two. We decided to splurge on the drive and spend time in the beauty of  Longwood Gardens. We were a bit surprised at the number of folks with the same plan. From the voices traveling around us, many were far from homes in other countries.

Longwood Tree

It has been a number of years since we visited and always there are cameras. This year it seemed that at least half our fellow travelers were using other kinds of devices.Longwood Conservatory

Progress into the conservatory was slow as so many groups and couples posed every few feet.

Longwood Conservatory

I had taken my camera so I was caught up in capturing everything I could see when I suddenly realized the camera was flashing its low battery signal.

Longwood Conservatory

And it came to me – my battery was low too and I needed to recharge: breathing fragrance, looking deeply into plants, enjoying the laughter, marveling at the gardeners work,

Longwood Conservatory       Longwood Conservatory

walking slowly, holding hands,   Longwood Conservatory  watching sunlight fade and lights glow from trees  Longwood Conservatory  sharing dinner, walking in cold, crisp air, recharging, rejoicing! Longwood Gardens

We had seen stars shining, nature singing! Singing the praises of their Lord and Creator this Christmas Day! Joyous Holidays to you!

Longwood Longwood Longwood Longwood

Longwood IMG_2161 Longwood Longwood conservatory

Advent Gift

Bowl of Christmas balls

When I was 9, I left my local parish school. That fall I entered the thick grey walls of a girls’ school, a long streetcar ride from home. The halls that threaded the school where normally filled with the muted trampings of rubber soles and the rustling of black habits and long rosary beads. Those first months I felt the walls had eyes and ears that peered into my soul, weighed me and found me lacking in grace and whatever other qualities where expected in a student there. And I shrank into my introverted shell.

Then came late November and a gift was dropped into my soul. All the elementary students gathered at the beginning of the day in a strange wide place filled with windows in an otherwise enclosed hallway. The windows stretched from steamy radiators almost to the high ceilings. I remember that Monday filling the space with grey early light. There was a surprise as the heavy scent of Christmas hung in the air as we pressed in to be close to the large wreath of fresh greens somehow suspended above us. As a candle was lit, those several hundred voices sang out, “O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel…” I don’t know if I understood the words but enclosed in the sound was mystery and comfort.

I’ve sung and heard this hymn sung every year since and when I hug it close and let myself return to that dark place, I hear the echo of those voices down through time and touch again the mystery and the comfort.

I believe that God Himself touched that lonely little girl with His presence and began a game of hide and seek with her.  It would take many years but again in real time He would touch my soul with the mystery, wonder, and comfort of His presence and I would know His name – Emmanuel – God with us – God with me.

Ann Voskamp is sharing about Advent wreaths, Jesse trees and keeping Advent. Ann has such insight and grace to touch mystery and wonder; you might enjoy a visit with her at the farm.

I’m From Twelve Days of Christmas

It has been about seven years since I stepping into the family history adventure. In this time I have met new family and said good-by to several senior members of these wonderful tribes. My life has been so enriched by the stories and I have grown interested in memoir. How I wish to come upon some long ago writings!

This year I found Spiritual Memoirs 101 and sometimes I even do the exercises!

This is a quiet time and so I’ve mused on the “Where Are You From?” Christmas exercise, one which you might find fun as we continue on through these twelve days of Christmas. So many are ready to put out the tree but for my family, we would still be in Christmas mode, and would stay so past Twelfth Night  giving Dad a chance to celebrate his birthday in a festive house before boxes had to be fetched from the attic, packed and then hoisted up again.


I’m from twelve days of Christmas

I’m from sugar cookies rolled thin, Quality Street candy and candy canes too

I’m from homemade fruitcake, family dinners and packages sent ’round the world

I’m from Advent wreaths and singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel on dark December mornings

I’m from candle lighted windows, frosty cold bedroom and a warm, cozy kitchen

I’m from prickly holly and an angel topped tree

I’m from red felt stockings hung down the stairs and secrets and laughter and Christmas tears

I’m from row house grandparents and Manger gardens with trains

I’m from Christmas movies and carols sung off-key

I’m from department store Christmas windows and market stalls of treats


What Christmas treasures have been mine! Like an amazing box of ornaments from a storehouse, each one unwrapped, the beautiful, the not so, some broken and ugly and all come alive again in memory.  I sit here long years later, listening to wind howl, gazing into candlelight and feel the smile play on my face. For just a moment it can all real again, the crisp snap of a cookie, the pungent smell of sherry soaked fruitcake, the couch where I sat in tree and candlelight and longed for snow. I can feel the cold and crowds pressed in to see the wondrous animated scenes in the store windows and smell the roasting peanuts near the market bus stop and even warm my hands once again on the large bag of them I hold for the long ride home.

There were tears that stained Christmases too. Time and understanding have faded them gently to the background like the soft crumpled tissue that will cradle it all until another Christmas comes.


Joyous Christmas Greetings!

Susan Branch did a lovely post on houses today in which she likens a house to a bank into which deposits are made with the life experiences that happen there. Today I did some baking and listened to old Christmas music and thought about the immense comfort it brings, stirring memories of early home so deeply etched in my soul.


As I worked along, I could see again a Christmas eve. I sat on the steps behind stockings lined down the banister and watched as Dad painstakingly hung silvery tinsel from every branch while A Christmas Carol played on the radio. Sometimes I would be called to come behind the closed bedroom door to choose paper and ribbon for a gift I was to give.


I am grateful for the sweet spirit of Christmas past hovering near this cold, snowy Christmas Eve comforting in the loss of several friends who leave empty spaces in our lives this year.

My today house has many deposits in its walls. It is a quiet place this year but the laughter hidden in its walls makes me smile and decorate and enjoy living in this moment.


This nativity from our family room is special to me with its collection of animals and angels  in great variety!

All are welcome at the manger.


Christmas Apron

The kitchen floor bore silent witness to the mayhem.

chop fine

add gradually

sift together, stir, mix well

beat in, stir in, blend thoroughly, combine, beat till fluffy

boil, cool, melt

scrape, scoop, drop, spread, shape, mold, turn out, roll out, cut

cover, chill, let sit overnight

bake, let cool

while hot, pour on glaze

Perhaps you recognize these terms as instructions for creating cookies, cakes, breads or pies, some of those special taste delights of the Christmas season.


Sometimes, however, they might seem like descriptions of how you or I might feel treated or treat others during this season of wonder and awe. No wonder the tart response to showing off an apron creation – “Christmas should wear an apron!”


So I work to remind myself as I go about to wear my inner apron to serve a smile of kindness, a cup of comfort, glad tidings to the weary or a blessing of peace to the fearful. Things might get messy like my kitchen floor, but the results can be sweet.

This Christmastide I too wish for you “that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”   3John3