Christmas Thoughts

A quiet Christmas morning. Time for us to rest, enjoy each other’s company. No hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping required. Thankful.

A quiet celebration. Occurring in the heart. Reflecting on the roots of my faith. Believing along with my questions. Faithful.

A quiet remembering. Blending memories from Christmas past and present. Children who graciously accepted gifts now thoughtfully give. Hopeful.

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
What Child is This?
In the Bleak Mid-Winter~Kelley Morris, piano

Merry Christmas! ❤️🎄 🕊

Deep and Wide

So simple
So completely
Disarming
We celebrate
Its appearance
On babies faces
Then proceed
Doing everything
Possible to
Encourage
Its return-
A sweet smile
Lighting up
Faces
Lighting up
Rooms
Lighting up
Hearts
When noticed
By a friend
Mine somehow
Grows wider
Reaches deeper
Prompting
Inward
Reflection
Inspiring
Outward
Awareness-
Are the faces
Drifting by
Genuinely
Beaming?
Or are they
Searching
For a reason
To smile?

These five drove four-and-a-half hours to celebrate Christmas with my parents. The visit may have been short, but its sweetness will last a long time. ❤️

Simply Sunday

Christmas Light

Searching
For light
It’s that time
Of the year
Green trees
Adorned
With tinsel
Topped
With angels
Or stars
Drawing eyes
And hearts

Searching
For light
It’s that time
Of the year
Scenes of
A stable
Tiny baby
Surrounded
By animals
Love and
Redemption
In innocence

Searching
For light
It’s that time
Of the year
An awareness
The light is
Searching
For us, to be
Reflected in
Our faces
Our words
Our actions

All packed Up and Ready To Go

Laundry
The night
Before
Means
Packing
The night
Before
Means
Bedtime later
Than normal
Restless sleep
Like a child
Waiting for
Tomorrow
To arrive
Except
No longer
A child
And though
My heart
Will be ready
My body
Will be tired
Counting on
A little caffeine
A little music
A little conversation
To carry me safely
Down the road
From home
To home
And back again…

As I head to Arkansas to spend a week with my parents, I am thankful.

Thankful for my husband who says-Go! This is most important.

Thankful for my adult children who say-We understand! We will see you there!

And for extended family and friends who say-We will miss you! See you another time. Safe travels!

Merry Christmas!

Waiting for Silent Night

The ground weeps
This morning
Unable
To hold back
The tears
Soaked into
Its roots
From those
Crying above
Hearts
Once light
Now heavy
With worries
Witnesses to
Devastation
Prevailing wind
Moves across
The land
Initially
Unsuccessful
In drying
Their tears
And yet, not
Deterred
I feel it
Right now
Gently caressing
My face
As it whispers
Let your tears
Mingle with
The suffering
Watering
Seeds of hope
Waiting
For Silent Night

Silent Night~Kelley Morris, piano

Scenes From School

Scene One

Walkway outside the music room.

Several First-grade students: Mrs. Morris! I am signing up for your piano class!

A Fifth-grade student: Mrs. Morris…why is it only for first and second graders?

I am excited to offer a piano club for the first time! It will be for First and Second graders. Looking into offering a second class. Shhhhh…

Scene Two

A group of teachers and school staff members at Target:

It is Angel Tree time at our school. Teachers and staff work diligently to make sure our students have what they need along with something they want. This year, a local corporation sponsored some of our angels. All they needed were shoppers.

What are you looking for?
Here are some cool Legos!
Oh, and these shoes are cute!
What do you think about this hoodie?

Passing each other in the store, all smiling as we searched for just the right gifts. The same as in the halls each day at school. Sometimes with tears instead of smiles, always with concern for our students.

A few of our secret shoppers. ❤️💚

Scene Three

The music classroom.

Me: Today is our student teacher, Mr. Malone’s last day with us. We need to say thank you and goodbye.

Student One: Why can’t he be our teacher? Are you ready to retire?

Student Two: Wait, is he a student? But he is a grownup!

Student Three: (Eyes welling up with tears.) I am going to miss him. (Crying along with a goodbye hug.)

Scene Four

The community kitchen-bustling with holiday cheer.

Friday morning, teachers and staff were treated to a pancake breakfast! The counter was lined with bowls of strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips. Complete with peanut butter, syrup, and whipped cream. The jolly cooks were none other than our administrators!

Two of our three amazing administrators. ❤️

One more week until Christmas break! ❤️💚❤️

Part of the Harmony

I have not spent enough time at my piano in recent weeks. So this week, I decided to remedy that. With it being Christmas time, what to play was an easy choice.

As I played through several old Christmas hymns, the word balance kept coming to mind. No matter the context, there are always notes, voices, instruments, rhythms that need to be heard above the rest. And quite often, that spotlight is shared, giving others a chance to be heard.

Even though one voice might not be the momentary focus, it remains essential to the music. Where would that melody be without harmony? Or that jazz riff without the brushes of the drum floating behind it?

When I sat down to play this morning, I began by playing the hymns as written. Though tempting, I did not add any embellishments. My goal was to play so that the melody rang out clearly, while the harmony provided support.

After reading the music as written, I went back and added new rhythms, patterns, harmonies while keeping the melody clear. Both versions required the same thing-balance.

I have said this before, but the only time my brain is calm is while I am playing the piano. Somehow, it provides an inner balance. There is that word again. Outside voices are quieted. Worries of the day temporarily disappear.

Music reminds me that I do not need to raise my voice above the crowds. Although I may have something important to say, unless it is balanced with love for those in hearing range, I should probably remain part of the harmony.

Harmony-that is my prayer for this Christmas. For there to be less shouting and more listening. That we may experience joy amid our sadness. And hope that outweighs our fears. Merry Christmas!

Please enjoy a few Christmas carols! ❤ Kelley Morris, piano

What Child is This?
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Dat
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Uncommon

Snow is not a common occurrence in Oklahoma. The expectation brings a collective holding of breath. Adults become like little children, waking up all hours of the night to see if the snow is falling.

Today is one of those uncommon days. I was awake several times during the night. At first, all was still and quiet. Doubts began to creep in…the forecast was probably wrong anyway. And then I heard something hitting the roof.

A quick look outside brought disappointment…only rain. According to the forecast, it should be changing to snow in another hour or so. I would hold my breath a little longer.

Finally, the transformation from rain to heavy snow began! It didn’t take long for the grass to turn completely white. Snow-tipped evergreens now graced the backyard. And the snowfall looked like it would last forever.

What is it about snow? It has the power to transform the faded colors of winter into a magical wonderland. Snow makes me feel like a child again-at least in my heart. But most of all, it is a reminder that when all feels bleak, the uncommon gives hope.

In the Bleak Midwinter Kelley Morris, piano

Transformation

Moonlight shines on
Snow-covered grass
Afternoon clouds
Long dissolved
Giving stars their
Chance to shine
Pulsing through
The darkness
Feathered birds-
Cheerful melodies
Now quieted-
Nestle peacefully
Inside their nests
While the fox
Ventures out to
Gather food for pups
Sleeping in the den
I am tired, but
The moon shines
Snow is calling-
Do I snuggle in
Like the birds
Or venture out
Like the fox?
Wisdom says
Sleep can wait
Give witness to
The transformation

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! 🙂

After Christmas Blues

Took down the tree today
Feeling a little sad
No more green or lights
House looks rather drab

Ornaments and nativity sets
Each piece carefully put away
So many sweet memories
Saved for another day

Perhaps I'll buy some flowers
To bring back some of the cheer
Which was put away in the boxes
With Christmas...until next year

I was listening to some James Taylor today and the following phrase from Before This World/Jolly Spring Time struck a chord. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/before-this-world-jolly-springtime/980668059?i=980668068

Yes the winter was bitter and long
So the spring'll be sweet
Come along with a rhythm and a song
Watch creation repeat

I know winter is just beginning but the hope of spring is ever present.  Trees will once again bud and flowers will once again bloom. We must look for it in the moments of sunshine and patches of blue.  Or in store-bought flowers placed in a favorite vase.