Christmas thoughts

December 21, 2010 | My Jottings

It was snowing heavily when I put my book (The Wee Mad Road) down and turned off the light last night. I knew when I woke up at 5:15 this morning that we’d gotten a lot of snow overnight, because of the quiet. Even the sound of the wind against the house and landscape has a muffled sound to it because of the thick layer of new fallen snow.

I put on my white terry cloth robe, my Sorel slippers, stuffed a Kleenex in my pocket (winter allergies) and went quietly downstairs to click up the heat, make my Cappuccino Cooler, and check online to see if schools had closed. They had.

This will be the first Christmas since Chris and Sharon moved back to Minnesota. They have visited at Christmas before, and we have traveled to see them in Maryland for Christmas, but now they live a mile and a half from us, which is such a blessing. I don’t thank Chris and Sharon enough for making the sacrifices they have for being closer to family.

The other night Chris and Sharon went to see our local community playhouse’s holiday musical White Christmas and their three little ones came here. We played Farkle and read books and ate sliced pears and almonds for a snack. The older two, Mr. McBoy and Mrs. Nisky, spent the night on a pallet on the floor of our bedroom. Since Lil’ Gleegirl, whose new nickname is Moo, was getting over a virus, she fell asleep in bed beside me, but Mama came to get her after the play. Moo slept through being carried out of bed, down the stairs, into her winter coat, out to the car, strapped into the car seat, the drive home, being taken out of her car seat, carried into the house, up the stairs, coat removed, and tucked into bed. We have a guest room and at first Mr. McBoy and Mrs. Nisky said they wanted to sleep there, but when bedtime arrived they both asked if they could be on the pallets of pillows and blankets in our room again. Sharon told Chris that their three little ones are going to have good memories of going to Grandpa and Grandma’s big house with many beds to choose from, and sleeping on the floor. 🙂

My three daughters have put their heads together and planned our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menu. Sara wanted it to be really nice and really casual at the same time, with a proper menu. Everyone will bring something for Christmas brunch, and I am to make a calligraphied menu to announce what will be served, even though what will be served will be right there on the table. So far, this is what is planned:

Carolyn’s Egg and Bacon Casserole
Sharon’s Baked French Toast
Michael’s Smoked Salmon and Trout
Sara’s Wild Rice Maple and Nut Porridge
Carolyn’s Vinaigrette-tossed Field Greens
Julie’s Fruit Salad with Pomegranate and Rosemary Dressing
Sharon’s 1930s Coffee Cake
Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

We will watch the little ones open their presents and we’ll sing carols together, which is one of my favorite things to do. Listening to the smallest children sing loud with no self-consciousness is a joy. Last year, Vivienne had just turned four, and she sang her own spontaneous song as she sat on her mama’s lap after we opened presents. She lifted her chin and closed her eyes and sang out her own version of a Christmas carol: “Oh, you’ve got to price de Low-ud, because you’ve just got to price de Low-ud, and we should all price de Low-ud…” and she sang it out for a long time, her own joyful noise. That was one of the highlights of my life. I sensed the Lord whisper to my heart as Vivie sang, “And you also need to praise me….every day, no matter what.”

Well, the Schnauzer Stampede just came down the stairs. I fed Edith and Mildred and let them outside, but they were shocked at the depth of the snow, which is higher than their backs. Millie hopped around like a rabbit, throwing up puffs of snow in the dark, finally settling on a place to go. But persnickety Edith wouldn’t venture out into the drifts and stood trembling pathetically by the door. So I went outside and shoveled a path for them in the back yard, and Edith finally went.

As I stood there in the dark I could feel the snow hitting my face and neck, and I saw movement in the woods across the creek. I could barely make out the dark forms of two deer bedded down in the snow, one lifting her head to watch us and make sure they were still safe enough to stay put. I went outside later when it was light to take a picture — you might be able to see them if you click the photo to enlarge it.

Beryl Singleton Bissell, author of a book I love called The Scent of God, lives up the north shore of Lake Superior, about an hour north of us, where beauty and wildlife abound. She wrote recently about living in that beautiful solitude, “It’s a perfect place for a monastery, here where God’s bounty is so clearly visible. Contemplative living should flow naturally in such a place, one would think, yet perfect places do not guarantee perfect lives. Always we lug ourselves around, not seeing clearly, not listening closely, always dependent on God’s love to rekindle the fires of yearning within us. Advent approaches, reminding us that the Incarnation was willed through eternity as an expression of God’s love for us.”

Oh, how I identify with that. It seems like I am lugging myself around these days, blurry spiritual vision and stopped up ears. I am truly dependent on God’s love to rekindle the flames that have died down, barely embers now.

Christmas reminds me that He loves me, came down to earth for me, and does for me those things that I cannot do for myself. Which these days, is almost everything. But I can still, of my own free will and privilege, price de Low-ud.

And that I do today.

Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:3-5


  1. Carey says:

    What lovely, joy-filled memories to share with us…your faithful readers!

    Thank you for your transparency Julie. Please know you’re not alone in your dependency on Him to rekindle the flames that are now only embers. I think we could all take a lesson from little Vivie in how we should come to the Lord…unabashed love and adoration. I hope and pray that your upcoming time together has more of these precious moments to look back upon and treasure.

    Lots of love from our home to yours…

  2. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for your wonderful encouragement, in print and in friendship, dear Carey.

  3. Ember says:

    “Flames that are only embers.” I know about those times. When I changed my name, I did it as an act of faith that even if all you can see is ashes, if there’s the teeniest glow of warmth, somewhere there’s an Ember underneath; and if you have that you’re in with a chance – life can start again.
    At our Friday housegroup someone has asked if we can talk about being born again. I was holding this request in my heart when I went to see the film ‘Of Gods & Men’. In it one of the monks talks about Christmas being a time of birth and dying, part of a repeated cycle that continues through life. He said we are reborn many times. I think that’s right. I think we have to be.
    Here’s a lungful of puff for the fire in you all the way across the world from me :0o<<<} Can you feel it? :0)

  4. Just Julie says:

    A loving puff of air for the embers, from Ember. I have my eyes closed, waiting for it to arrive…. TY. xxoo

  5. Patty says:

    Though my own Christmas Eve and morning will be full of food and the Princess and our own traditions; I wish that I could be there to share in the sheer joy of yours. I hope that you and yours have a blessed and peace-filled day, with lots of singing, laughter and children’s kisses!

  6. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Patty. Kaitlyn will make it a Christmas to remember, I’m sure. Thank you for the blessing you have been this year…

  7. Lloyd says:

    Reading that bill of fare makes me want to hop a plane and join your family for Christmas. I’ll be alone, baking the ham for the Solo’s Christmas potluck.

    About that fire: it never burns low; we just need to move closer. I learned that from a thousand campfires.

  8. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Lloyd….you are so right.

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