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.
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.
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 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
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. ❤️
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.
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. 😉
It’s that busy time of year. So many things to do! Concerts, parties, baking, shopping. Everyone rushing around, trying to find that perfect gift. Crazy afternoon and evening traffic backed up for miles. Making travel plans to see out-of-town family and friends. Teachers trying to survive the last few days before a much-needed winter break.
With darkness coming earlier each day, it is tempting to go home and go to sleep after work. Or at least snuggle up with a good book, blanket, and cup of hot cocoa, maybe do a little online shopping. But sometimes it is worth it to do something that will spread a little cheer.
Yesterday after school, a teacher friend and I took our choir and student council students to visit an assisted living facility. The kids delivered cards and sang carols to two different groups of residents. You can just imagine the smiles on the precious faces of the elderly patients, many who have health and/or memory issues. The smiles on the kids’ faces were almost as bright.
When I arrived at school this morning, I overheard one student asking another about her visit to the nursing home the day before. Smiling ear to ear her response, “It was great! One sweet little lady gave me a kiss on the cheek.” Oh, my goodness. This excitement from a 5th grader.
Another sweet report went something like, “There was a lady in a wheelchair who looked like she was sleeping. But as soon as the music started, she opened her eyes and started moving!” I think it’s safe to say these children were a bright spot in her day.
Yes, this outing extended our day a little. Yes, it was a little chaotic carpooling thirty-something kids from school to the center and back. Yes, there is a level of stress that goes with making sure everyone gets picked up by their parent. However, all of those were overshadowed by the smiles and thank you’s which followed us out the door and were still impacting us the next day.
The truth is that bit of cheer we spread yesterday followed us right into today. Hopefully, some of it also remained with its original recipients.
A beautiful circle of hope thanks to kids, music, and Christmas.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of my favorite movies. I enjoy watching it at least once each year in December. Friday evening was my first viewing for this year. The perfect way to end a busy week at school and begin a much needed relaxing weekend. Snuggled up on the couch with a cozy blanket and the Christmas tree lights glowing.
The older I get, the more I understand my love for this movie. It’s about family and the importance of appreciating the little things in life. The main character, George Bailey, a would-be explorer always dreamt of leaving his small town. As we often do in life, he thought surely there must be a better, more exciting life, somewhere else.
This is an understandable occurrence, considering our common emphasis on the material. Pressure to acquire the “next best” in everything from our clothes and cars to our homes and jobs, is a constant presence in our society. A difficult idea to ignore, for certain.
Two particular scenes in the movie caught my eye this time. The first is when George is talking to his hard-working, exhausted father about his need to leave town. At the same time, he recognizes the greatness in his dad. What George doesn’t know, is that it will be his last conversation with his dad.
The second scene occurs near the end of the movie when George realizes that his life truly is a gift. He utters, “I want to live again. Please, Clarence, help me to live again.” The little things in his life suddenly moved to their deserved place of prominence.
I have several favorite moments in the movie, but these particular two are not typically the ones which stand out. As I started thinking about why these specific scenes caught my attention this time, a thought came.
I needed a reminder concerning the importance of being content.
Contentment in my job and current stage of life have been a bit of a challenge lately. Honestly, I’ve spent too much time thinking about “what’s next.” This has made me a little restless. And if I’m honest, also a little grumpy.
So, in these last days and weeks leading up to Christmas here is my goal:
Be content. Look for the positive in each day. Let people know how much they mean to me. Take time to enjoy the simple things.
Easier said than done? Possibly. But hopefully putting it in writing will help. And maybe someday I will be able to say with confidence…
“…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
Merry Christmas! Take time to watch your favorite holiday movie. If you don’t have one, give “It’s a Wonderful Life” a try! It definitely helped me focus on what’s important in my life, and inch a little closer to being content.
I’ve been attending the annual St. Henry’s Christmas Bazaar for almost twenty-five years now. The first one I remember took place a few weeks after our car accident and before the birth of our first son., Robert. That was a special one. We were greeted with smiles and tears. So many expressions of thankfulness that we were ok. (See post Struggle for Control)
This event takes place at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Owasso, OK. The home church of my in-laws and the church where my husband grew up. We have many happy family memories associated with the Christmas bazaar, especially our kids with their Grandma and Papa.
If you arrived early enough there were homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. But if you missed those, no worries. Frito chili pie and tamales were on the lunch menu as well as pie. Any kind of pie you could possibly want! It doesn’t stop there, oh no. We also had to visit the bake sale section before heading home.
The kids could expect to be spoiled by their Papa at the bazaar. He always bought too many desserts. Plus, there were toys, books, Christmas ornaments. I still have a pair of green earrings he helped Robert sneak around and buy for me one year. The kids also witnessed Grandma making crafts or baking items for the event in the weeks prior, and we always enjoyed looking for her items on display.
Probably the only thing Papa bought more of than desserts were the raffle tickets! Sometimes the kids would get to help draw names out of the wire basket and call out the next winner. Such anticipation and excitement followed by a celebration for the lucky name called.
Looking back on the happy memories associated with our family through this church, it’s funny how nervous I was about meeting my sweet in-laws for the first time. My husband was raised Catholic and I was raised Baptist. Seemed like a big difference at the time. Not only that, I had been married and divorced, which would affect his membership in their church.
I was not excited about Gart sharing this information with his parents when we were dating. How would they respond? Would they understand? Of course, my worries were for nothing. They loved me like a daughter from the very beginning. And we’ve had many occasions over the years to attend services at both Catholic and Baptist churches all together as a family.
Today I think about the special place in my heart for St. Henry’s Catholic Church and their annual Christmas bazaar. Tomorrow I will go once again, look at the crafts, possibly buy a Christmas gift, eat lunch with my mother-n-law and of course, eat pie! My father-n-law, my kids Papa, will be missed as we reminisce over times past. But we will continue to make new memories and form new relationships.
Who would have thought so much joy could be found in a simple Christmas bazaar?
I hope I can get there in time for cinnamon rolls this year…