Simple Things

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” 

Bob Hope

A week from today is Christmas Eve.

I’ve been working on Christmas cards for some time now. It’s taking me a while because I’m doing them very differently this year.

The idea has been brewing over this past year as I browsed my way through many estate sales. Every sale had a collection of unclaimed family pictures. To see the different family celebrations recorded and stacked in boxes broke my heart over and over again.

After the first few sales, I realized I had my own stack of pictures sitting in albums in my office closet. I knew odds were high they’d stay in that very spot until Michael and I made our next move or–God forbid– have our own estate sale.

Going through pictures for my stories sparked the idea to make my own cards. Each individual card would be personalized to feature photos of the person the card will be sent to or spotlight an event they’d remember.

It has been a time consuming project. Most of the photos take me down a road filled with memories. The surprising thing about this project is I know these old pictures filed away in a dark closet will be on their way to bring a smiles to my loved ones. Even though we are miles apart, I know we will be walking down memory road together.

So simple…

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” 

Eric Severeid

I am…

B…simply being. 


The People Away

“She always spoke about “the people away” and how important it was to remember them and to keep in contact. She knew from listening to some of them when they came on summer holidays that at Christmas their thoughts turned to home and they loved to be remembered at that time. For others the cards was even more important; it provided the only link they had because they never made it home. I visualized my mother’s Christmas cards as so many messengers winging their way to scattered family members all over the world from the nest from which they or their parents had all flown. She was the warm glow at the heart of our Christmas, but that warmth stretched much further than our house.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

Christmas cards.

So many memories come up when I think of Christmas cards.

Early in my “adult” life, I’d spend hours upon hours writing cards to all my family members. It was really the only time of year many of us heard from each other.Today, there are very few of our branch of the McDonald family around.

For me, writing Christmas cards was a major production. I started looking for cards as soon as the stores started putting up their displays. My cards had to represent something of myself.

One of my favorite memories revolves around the year I found Ziggy cards–remember that character? His life was always just a little bit sad and off kilter. To me, he mirrored my own life and this one year I’d found a whole box of Ziggy Christmas cards.

I was ecstatic.

I grabbed my box knowing these cards would be sent to a very select group of people. That was not unusual. Most years I’d have several boxes of cards subdivided into stacks for different groups that made up my life.

A great example of this would be my very prime and proper Aunt Eve. She  would not have appreciated a Ziggy card. She and the rest of the family would require a much more traditional type card.

The best part of this memory is the young guy who was at the checkout that day. He rang up my box of cards and other supplies while going through all those questions the sales staff are required to ask.

Smiling, he told me it was a perfect time to take advantage of their imprinting service. Was I interested in having my cards professionally imprinted?

We were both quiet for a couple of seconds and then I started to laugh.

He stopped, looked up at me with a questioning expression. What was so funny?

I shook my head as I apologized, explaining I did not think it just did not seem right to me to have a Ziggy Christmas card imprinted. He looked down at my box of cards, chuckled, and quietly agreed with me.

May your Christmas preparations also give you many reasons to smile.

“Mrs. Casey, do you love Christmas? 

Well you know, she answered reflectively, Christmas can be a sad time for people too. It’s a remembering time for us older ones. We remember the people who are gone.

Oh, I never thought of that, I told her in surprise.

Well that’s youth for you, she said; you don’t start to look back over your shoulder until there is something to look back at, and around Christmas I tend to think of the Christmases past and the people gone with them.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

I am…

B…simply being…




A Cheer of Kindness

“Do not wait until Christmas to spread a little cheer,
people appreciate kindness, all through of the year.”
― Charmaine J. Forde

The bells in the clock tower at the church not far from our house are playing Christmas music at the top of the hour. It was a comforting sound, ringing out across the valley as I began this cold and rainy day here in Texas. There is even talk of snow flurries later today. I am very thankful I can stay home–the roads will not be a pretty sight if they begin to freeze.

The weather certainly encouraged a day of rest and reflection. Okay. Honestly, it was no different from any other day for me–it just gave me a very handy excuse.

As I watched the rainfall, two things came to mind.

My first thought streamed in after I picked up what little mail we get these days. The wonderful thing about this time of year is we actually get real mail from real people. It is the best gift. If you have not sent a card or a letter lately, now is a very opportune time to brighten someone’s day.

As I read our cards, I thought back to the years I’d complained about all the cards I had to send out to relatives. Today I’d be thrilled to have the chance to send holiday cheer to them. The pages in my address book of relatives have disappeared, leaving me sighing, shaking my head, and regretting I’d spent so little time and effort staying in touch with them. Learn from my neglect. Reach out and spread some win/win joy, to those receiving your Christmas greetings and to yourself as you send out your love.

My second memory came more subtly. Many years ago, I took a self-confidence class. One of the exercises given was to compliment three people a day for a week. If you’ve never done that, try it. The results, both to the person you compliment and to yourself for those few words of praise, are incredible. If you take that a step further, give the gift of kindness this Christmas. It costs nothing but may mean everything to the person you bestow your words upon. A simple card with a statement about what you admire about them. If that’s a hard assignment to tackle, take a different route by thanking them for something they did to help you this past year. It may be something they did so automatically they were unaware of how important it was for you. If you want to add another dimension to the exercise, sent out your cards anonymously. Grow this Christmas season. With a full and grateful heart, care and share.

“To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.

Presidential message, December 25, 1927”
― Calvin Coolidge

As I type tonight I’m hearing the news about the fires in California. My prayers are being said as I finish my story. I ask for you to join me.

I am…

B…simply being…

Care, share, and pray.