Peace and Grace to All


Our tree is a kind of record of the years, filled with my daughter’s dough ornaments, ones I sewed for her when she was little, and a few from my husband’s childhood. I especially treasure the angel tree topper, bought long ago at a bazaar.

Whatever tradition you follow or invent as you go along, I wish you peace. We certainly all need it. Keeping our eyes focused on what lies ahead, may we keep our lives upright, not swayed by endless contradictory, dis-regulating tweets. Amen.


“Walk In The Light”


This year Hanukkah and Christmas land on the same weekend. We are getting a double dose of light. We certainly need it. Sometimes when we are driving, the road is so dark we have to put our headlights on high beam to see our way forward. This seems like a “high beam” time in the United States, and I am grateful that two religious observances stressing light are being celebrated together.

It is easy to get discouraged by bad news or chaotic pronouncements. It is tempting to look into the darkness and begin to despair. But both of these faith traditions ask us to stay light focused. In this photo I seem to be struck dumb by the lights shining in the room and off the tinsel. Awe seems an appropriate response to overwhelming light.

May you find peace tonight whatever tradition you follow. Remember to walk in the light.

My First Christmas 1947


Unlike so many pictures of babies, the one featured on this Christmas card shows me in a particularly thoughtful mood. I love the way the light is shining on the bassinet and my hand is resting on the paw of my stuffed kitten. I have that wonderful slouched position of someone who has just mastered sitting up but has to balance her head’s weight against that of her body.

Lost in thought in 1947, lost in thought tonight as I look back over many, many Christmases. Our country is going through some tough times. Inflammatory rhetoric fills the news. In 1947 the country was taking a deep breath after a long siege of war in the Pacific and in Europe. But we had unleashed the bomb, and our lives had become more perilous than most of us knew.

I have spent my whole life with the specter of nuclear war as a back drop. I mourn the reality that my grandchildren are now hearing talk of intensifying that threat. Tonight I pray for peace. I pray that cooler heads will prevail. I pray that we can lay down our weapons and spend our money studying peace.





“Little Things Mean a Lot”


I treasure my collection of miniature Nativity sets. Because they are small and relatively inexpensive, friends buy them for me when they travel. I have sets from Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Ecuador and Peru. I enjoy the many different cultures’ visions of the Christ child’s birth. Here the birth is attended by llamas! I also love the hands that enclose the scene, reminding me of a song I sang once “he’s got the whole world in His hands.”

The fireplace mantel has room for the assortment. It’s a gentle reminder that in my tradition Jesus came for all people, not just the privileged.


My Personal Elves


I choose to not show any pictures of people in my family who are still living, believing that they deserve privacy. So this stock image will have to suffice to substitute for my actual grandchildren.I have been reflecting on kindness this Advent, and now reflect on the kindness of children. My own grandchildren to be specific.

On Saturday they showed up at my door to get out all the Christmas decorations I have in the basement. I have always worn myself out carrying all the boxes upstairs and setting everything up. That day, they carried everything upstairs, just needing me to point to what needed to go. Then they opened all the boxes and set up decorations where I had put them in previous years. They are only 7 and 9, but they had a clear sense of what went where. They rearranged things just enough to show their involvement, but basically repeated what they had seen in earlier years.

We saved the tree ornaments and lights for next weekend when we all go to Charlie Brown’s Tree Farm(the real name!) and cut a tree and buy wreaths for both of our houses. One of their dogs is still young enough to attack a tree, so ours will be the only one this year.

I was touched to the core by their kindness that day. They squealed with delight each time something they remembered was unpacked. They set all the musical decor playing at once knowing it made me crazy(but in a good way.) I ended up with a decorated house and my energy intact.

Thanks kids.