Comfort and Joy

Today is Christmas Eve, 2019. That does not sound possible. As a child growing up in the 1970s, the year 2020 was hard to fathom. And yet, here we are.

This time of the year causes me to reflect. I remember Christmas Eve parties at my Grandma and Grandpa Mahar’s house. Surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sharing our favorite snacks and sweet treats. Drinking lime sherbet and ginger ale punch. Those were beautifully simple times.

Added to those memories are the ones of my own children growing up. Christmas programs, music, opening presents, traveling to visit grandparents. Now they are grown. I wonder what parts they will remember in twenty years.

This year, we are hosting Gart’s side of the family on Christmas Day. They will gather in our home tomorrow. We have some new faces in our family. More people to love, to help heal the holes left by those we miss.

Although my Christmas reflections are predominantly happy, I recognize that is not the case for everyone. Many have faced unspeakable tragedies. Ones that do not simply vanish with time.

I want those friends to know it is ok to be sad, even amid celebrations. I should not expect them to just put on a happy face. And I hope they are not afraid to share their grief.

A friend recently shared the following verse with me.

“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not recorded in Your book?” Psalm 56:8

The image of God collecting my tears in a bottle was powerful and comforting. On this Christmas Eve, I pray that thought brings you comfort and joy.

I also want to share some of my favorite carols. These are my own simple arrangements. Hope you enjoy! Merry Christmas! 🙂

Loud and Clear

My house is quiet this first morning of Christmas break. But moments of joy from yesterday ring loud and clear in my mind.

The last day of school before the break is filled with treats, parties, gifts, and PJs. For teachers, a crazy mix of fun and exhausting! When the day was done, one quote came to mind. It perfectly described two events of the day.

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Buddy the Elf

As students entered the building, they were greeted by teachers singing and playing hand-held percussion instruments. Jingle bells, maracas, and drums accompanied various Christmas carols.

But the fun did not stop there. Once students were settled in their classrooms, one group of teachers decided to take this musical show on the road.

With instruments in hand and portable BlueTooth speaker in tow, we were off. Traveling through the entire school, past every single classroom. Familiar tunes of Jingle Bells, Frosty, Rudolph, and Feliz Navidad filled the air.

Students and teachers smiled their biggest smiles. Faces pressed against windows, students waved, some sang along. Some eyes even filled with tears. The joy was almost tangible. Most assuredly contagious and loud!

The second event occurred in my classroom. Not nearly as loud, but just as clear in its joy.

My kindergarten class was watching “The Nutcracker Prince.” During the movie, I decided to sit on the floor near the kids. Soon, I had five or six kiddos sitting right next to me, leaning in and smiling.

When the movie ended, I stayed put and asked all the students to move closer. Picture me sitting on the floor, twenty-plus little ones piled up around me.

I started to sing. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”. They all joined in. We continued with “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Their voices and smiles were precious. And once again, the joy was evident. It may not have been as loud as the morning caroling, but it was just as tangible and clear.

My hope is for students to remember our singing. And for the memories to remind them how much they are loved. A simple message delivered loud and clear. ❤

Times of Great Joy

Growing up, I always looked forward to Christmas Eve. My Grandma and Grandpa Mahar lived next door, and we always had a party at their house that evening. Memories from those gatherings remain lasting.

Grandma’s house in more recent years.

The most important of those memories revolve around family. My grandparents’ small house would be filled with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Kids were running around playing, laughter filling every corner. Barely a place to sit down, and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Grandma’s dining room table would be covered with all the goodies everyone brought to share. Homemade frosted sugar cookies, divinity, and fudge to name a few. Candy canes and fruit also added color to the table. We would snack until our tummies couldn’t take any more.

With all those treats, we’d need something to drink. Punch! Every year it was lime sherbet and ginger ale-so tasty and festive. I love the taste of that punch to this day. And of course, there was always coffee. 😉

Presents were sometimes part of this celebration, but oddly enough that isn’t what I most remember. There were so many of us, twenty-six grandchildren to be exact, I can’t even imagine preparing those gifts. But somehow, they did.

I’ve experienced this Christmas Eve party over the span of many years as a child, teen, and finally adult. My perspective may have changed, but the purpose did not change. It was a time of great joy which I always looked forward to, and a time I now greatly miss…

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It will be a quiet day in comparison with the aforementioned parties. There will be cookies to bake and decorate, time with my family, and a Christmas Eve service with a message of hope and beautiful carols.

Our home this year.

Our house will not be full like my Grandma’s once was, but our hearts can be full none the less if we choose. They can be full because of the reason we celebrate.


Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing

Merry Christmas From A Tired Music Teacher

For teachers, Christmas break feels like it will never arrive. Those last few weeks are crazy! Students are restless, teachers are feeling the pull between home and school. Searching for time to decorate, shop, make travel plans…one can start to feel overwhelmed.

This year proved no different. Our final day before break started with leading the choir in some hallway caroling. Then my teammates and I assisted with parties in the gym. And although it was fun, we were on our feet all day.

Exhausted, but relieved break was finally here, I drug my tired body home. I could barely move. At home, I shuffled from couch to bed to couch and finally to bed for the night. The best part? No alarm!

The next morning was awesome. First coffee, a snack, and catching up on the morning news. And next? A nap, of course! Mornings like that are a luxury.

Once I was out of bed for good, Christmas music was on my mind. “Charlie Brown Christmas” was my first choice. I pressed play and started getting ready for the day.

Hair still wet, no makeup on, I suddenly had an urge to play the piano instead of just listening. Christmas carols, of course. The thought of recording songs to share had been in the back of my mind the past couple of weeks.

My initial plan was to go buy a book of fancy arrangements. But on this first day of break, I suddenly changed my mind. Upstairs looking through an old hymnal, I decided to simply play some of my favorites.

And that’s what I did-played these beautiful carols, adding a little of my own style. Nothing fancy, just honest and peaceful music.

My offering may not be extravagant, but that’s ok. It’s from me…from my hands…from my heart. The heart of a tired, yet grateful, music teacher.

Merry Christmas! Hope you enjoy!

Special thanks to my husband, Gart, for getting me set-up, giving me a refresher course on using garage band, and being my editor-in-chief. ❤️


Away In A Manger
Carols Sing
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
The First Noel

5th Grade Words of Wisdom

Why is it I’m so surprised when kids speak words of wisdom? Yes, sometimes it is difficult to catch amongst all the silliness and play. It seems to appear when least expected. Like today in the middle of Christmas Carol Bingo, for example.

I wanted the last few days before Winter break to be extra fun and relaxing. If I’m feeling stressed, I know my students are even more so. What could be more fun than Bingo? And when it involves Christmas carols, you can’t go wrong.

                                   Christmas Carol Bingo

My first class of the day is 5th grade. In the middle of our game, one of my students said, “Sometimes I have anxiety. There is so much to get done.” “Me, too,” I responded. “But sometimes music helps my anxiety.” This brief conversation, then the game continued.

It really was a fun class. We were singing along while we played. And of course, there are peppermints for prizes when one gets a Bingo. This first forty-five minutes of the day flew by.

Our game was over. All the marker pieces put away. Students were lining up to leave and face the remainder of their day. That’s when my friend from earlier walked over and gave me a hug. “I just wanted to say thank you, Mrs. Morris. I was having so much anxiety earlier, but now I’m not!”

Out of the mouths of babes…

Even as adults it can be difficult to deal with anxiety. First, we must recognize it, then find ways to cope. Maybe we can eventually learn to see it coming and feel prepared. But not kids. They need our help.

The funny thing is, in the process of helping my friend today, all be it unintentionally, his words actually helped me. I often talk about the power of music, the ways it can calm. I often forget, however, to utilize music when I’m feeling anxious.

These 5th-grade words of wisdom could not have come at a more appropriate time. Two days of school left before Winter break. Preparation for holidays and travel with family. Last-minute shopping. Joyful yet stressful times.

I think I’ll start working on my music playlist now. 😉

Here’s a good place to start. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/river/571368921?i=571369254