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!






Help for a Spirit of Rush

Over the years, my mother’s mentioned having a “spirit of rush.” Lately, I have it too.

The day before Thanksgiving, I raced through my to-do list. I checked off the post office, the bank, and hurried to the grocery story.  After I shopped, I planned to rush home, cook supper, decorate, clean the bathrooms, and write a blog post.

What to write about?

Thinking busy thoughts, I drove down two rows searching for a parking place. A man standing on the curb caught my attention. He wore khakis, a white shirt, and a brown sweater vest. Probably thirty-something.

He began inching his way across the parking lot. He couldn’t have hurried if he’d wanted to.

Lame in one leg, each step was quite an endeavor, but he never stopped smiling.  Clutching the side of his walker, he paused and looked my way.

He had a glow about him–almost heavenly. He held a bouquet of fall flowers wrapped in clear cellophane. The afternoon sunlight glinted off the shiny paper.

Never mind the effort his single purchase must have required. Or the time. He’d bought flowers for someone he loved. Greatly loved, no doubt.

Mesmerized, I waved him on.

Meeting my eyes, he tipped his head toward me. Thank you.

No, thank you!

As I watched him walk away slowly, gratefully, time stood still.

I noticed the magnificent color in the trees–the crisp air scented with chimney smoke.

The man’s contentment had somehow sailed right into my car.

My hurried heart settled down.

He brought Thanksgiving to me–a day early.

Maybe cultivating a spirit of gratitude in all things binds a spirit of rush.

“In everything give thanks….” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJ)

(photo courtesy of all things heart and home.)