Robin’s Early Christmas Gift

I’m just now acknowledging a touch of sadness leftover from childhood. After all these years, Mother and I finally talked about it.

“When I was little, you didn’t enjoy Christmas very much, did you?” I said, hesitantly.

“No, I dreaded it–the cleaning and cooking and pine needles everywhere. I’m so sorry. If I had it to do all over again–”

“No, no. No need to apologize. You did all the right things. We had presents and a tree. It’s just…you didn’t smile much. Maybe you were depressed or had autoimmune illnesses back then.” (She has three.)

“I can still see my grim face. It breaks my heart. I wanted to smile, but I was just so tired.”

With this conversation circling my thoughts last week, my friend Robin called on Halloween. We love books, antiques, and we feel things deeply.

But there’s something very different about us.

Robin celebrates holidays with her whole heart. 

It’s always fascinated me.

When we were young mothers, she sewed pilgrim outfits for her four children. Everybody made crafts.

I don’t sew or even own a glue stick. And that weird Christmas emotion (guilt? sadness?) creeps in every so often.

Robin and I chatted about everything from hair color to motherhood, and the conversation shifted.

“Jewels, guess what I did yesterday?”

“No telling.”

“I watched my favorite Christmas movies.”

“You watched Christmas movies before Halloween?”

That secret place in my heart clamored for attention.

“I had the best time!” she said. “On November first, I always start planning Christmas.”

What if it’s really okay to love Christmas? 

Something clicked into place like a key unlocking a door.

Robin has the gift of anticipation.

And it’s okay to anticipate Christmas!

Was it too late for me? Could I change?

After we hung up, I made our first fire of the season.

Mother called. “What’re you doing?” she said.

“Looking forward to Christmas.” I told her about Robin’s plans.

“Bless her little Christmas heart. And yours too. I love Robin.”

“I’m washing Christmas mugs, and I’m going to have a Porch Party all by myself with real whip cream, and–”

“Julie, Christmas is spilling into my heart and spreading across my living room. I’m going to get out my nativity right now!

Who knew anticipation could be contagious?

“And even healing,” Mother said softly. “It’s a form of worship.”

What about your childhood? Is there something that needs healing? 

Robin’s blog, All Things Heart and Home, is full of anticipation!






Only Seven Cookies…Or So I Thought

Wednesday morning, I stood in the kitchen staring at the plate of homemade cookies I’d baked. A gentle thought came to me. I came up with logical reasons to push the idea aside. For one thing, I’d made the cookies for a brunch.

The voice inside whispered to take a few cookies to a certain friend I’d met at the YMCA and tell her Merry Christmas. She deals with health issues. I’m drawn to her because of her radiance.


I don’t know her that well.

A few cookies aren’t a real gift.

I won’t have time to make more cookies before I see her.

I should buy her something instead.

Save some cookies for her.

Just stick them in a Ziploc baggie with a bow?

Use a pretty Christmas bag and a card.

Wednesday afternoon, I almost chickened out. What difference could seven cookies make?

Handing her the small red bag, something supernatural happened.

I can’t explain it.

Joy exploded inside me. “Merry Christmas. These are homemade cookies.”

Her shiny eyes met mine. She hugged me. “I don’t have any food in the house. I’ve been too busy to go to the grocery store. I’ll eat them tonight. Yummy! I can’t believe you did this.”

I almost didn’t. Thank you, Lord.

Shift gears with me.

This morning, I read Stephanie Shott’s post at The Mom Initiative. She’s requesting readers to write short prayers for those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. This time I didn’t argue with the Still Small Voice. I quickly added a prayer in the comment section with the others. My friend Robin wrote a beautiful post about carrying one another’s burdens. She shares a link to donate to the families.

I’m learning something so sweet.  Blessings follow obedience.  Even in the seemingly small things.



P.S. Robin’s cookie recipe. They’re GF. White chocolate cranberry walnut oatmeal.





On Aging, Motherhood, and Vanity

Now that I’m a smidge over 50, I’d like to share my mother’s thoughts on aging. Some things are worth preserving.

Almost three years ago, my BFF Robin had the nifty idea of asking my mom (Marion Bond West) how she felt about aging.  Mother doesn’t use a computer. She typed her response and snail-mailed it to Robin.

Robin posted Mom’s thoughts on her amazing BLOG (All Things Heart and Home) and I decided to repost it for you.

And speaking of Robin’s blog–it’s one you’ll want to follow~~~

My mother, 75, is a contributing editor for Guideposts magazine, and incredibly honest. Her thoughts are below in bold.

Aging is not what I thought.

It’s like the old timers told me decades ago. “On the inside, I still feel 35, 20, or even ten years old!”

Now I know what that means.

My insides–my emotions–still want to do energetic stuff. Clean house, run, engage in passion with my husband, organize my closet, my paper-strewn office, answer mail, shop ’til I drop, vacuum (well, I never did believe in vacuuming, to be totally honest).

As my wonderful mother (who died in 2001) said, “I’m fine–I just have the old age infirmities.” She died at 92 and beat cancer three times. I believe because she wasn’t afraid of it–or of anything. She was quite a mom. If I could mother  my children over again, I’d do for them what my mother did for me. She marveled every time she saw me as though I’d just returned from the moon.

I can’t remember her ever looking at me without smiling.

She made me feel like I was special (which holds over today) and I was/am barely average.

The way she treated me stayed with me for a lifetime.

Moms, what you do matters.

As you get older, occasionally you get a pleasant surprise. After I turned 70, I discovered I had naturally curly hair! In my younger years, I’d prayed for it, fervently, as well as a turned-up nose, and size 5 1/2 feet rather (rather than 8 1/2).

 I only discovered my curls because was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and couldn’t put hours into my hair care every week. So I shampooed it and fell back into bed. I awoke with curly hair! Oh, joy! Now, I only wash and scrunch it (and of course have it colored a believable reddish/copper). 🙂

I’m a little bit vain. When I travel, half  my luggage is all the things I use from the neck up! I also have to bring all my prescriptions. I take a bunch of them–one being a weekly injection of Embrel for rheumatoid arthritis. It’s working, now I’m mostly pain-free! But with the RA, I do have to guard my energy. I don’t hesitate to say no to anything I don’t want to do.

That’s another nice thing about getting older–not feeling the need to say yes to everything.

But there are some things I love that I don’t get to do anymore. I walked 4 miles a day (early mornings) up until 3 years ago, when the RA became tough. I miss early morning walks.

Here’s something else about aging. My arms. I hate the wrinkly skin on my arms when I hold them up. But I’ve figured out how to cope with that….I just keep my arms down! You’ve got to roll with the punches.

Okay, it’s me again, Julie.

(Here’s Mom’s article in GUIDEPOSTS about being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.)

So, what do you think? Do you have a hard time saying no? Have you learned that little life lesson? I’m getting much better at it. 🙂

And what about my grandmother? She wasn’t afraid of anything! Ever. And what about Mother’s sweet thoughts on motherhood?

Have you learned to roll with the punches–with whatever you might be struggling with right now? I’m still working on this one. Maybe it comes after age 70 like Mother’s curly hair. 🙂

I’ll post more of Mother’s thoughts next Wednesday. Thank you for visiting!