On the 12th day of Christmas…

wise-menToday (or yesterday, depending on how you see it) marks the end of the Christmas season.  By now we have received every imaginable gift, from a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming.  Not literally, of course, but if you count up every token of affection, gratitude, or umm… obligation you have accepted since Thanksgiving, chances are, they add up to at least as many items.

This day is also called Epiphany, the observation of the Wise Men’s visit to the Christ Child.  Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh honored the baby king and foretold his life and death.

History and folklore give us many other examples of gift givers such as Santa with toys for good children.  One of my favorite gift bringers is the little drummer boy with his gift of music.  Music is a one-size-fits-all sort of gift with no need for returns, but mostly I love that the little drummer boy found a way to give when he had nothing tangible to offer.  Another favorite is Amahl from the opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors.  When he had no gift to give the Christ Child, Amahl gave his crutch and was healed in return.  This story points out a universal truth.  When we give, we always get something in return.

During this new year, there will be many opportunities for each of us to give.  Sometimes we will give gifts to celebrate special occasions. We may donate money or supplies for those who have little or to further a cause.   Hopefully we will “lend an ear” or a “shoulder to cry on” to a troubled friend.  Some of us will give our time, talents, and hard work to make the world a better place.  I can’t wait to get started!  How about you?

May all your acts of giving bring you ultimate joy in the new year!

P.S.  It has been delightful to share these seasons of Advent and Christmas with my dear readers!  To those of you who purchased a copy of Waiting for Jesus, commented, “liked,” or offered other support and encouragement, please know that I am filled with gratitude.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


A Letter from Santa

santa star on keyboard

I don’t recall ever writing a letter directly to Santa, but I do remember making a Christmas list each year.  I guess I just trusted my mother to forward the lists to the North Pole.  Apparently she did, because I always got what I wanted and then some.

When I was in second grade I asked for a typewriter.  A real typewriter.  Not a Fisher Price-type toy typewriter, oh no!  I wanted the real thing.  I wanted to type words, sentences, stories.  I wanted to hear the ding at the end of the line signaling me to return the carriage with a satisfying thump.  I wanted to roll the paper up and down and finally, at story’s end, yank it from the machine in grandiose style.

On Christmas morning I was thrilled to find a typewriter under the tree, turquoise with white plastic keys.  Better yet, there was a note in it, typed by Santa himself!  I felt like the luckiest kid on earth…

until I read the entire note:

Dear Ida Beth,

Merry Christmas.  Be a good girl and clean up your room.



Hey, wait a minute!  That’s not something Santa would say!

Those words came directly from my mother’s mouth, and I knew it.  My mother had contaminated Santa!  She told him what to type in that note!  This was her evil plan to make me clean my room!  I tried to play it cool and not let on that I knew what she was up to, and pretty soon I forgot about the note altogether if only for a little while.

I never forgot about the typewriter, though.  While the current technology is so much easier to use, I kind of miss the dings, the thumps, and yanking out the finished piece with a flourish.

This year I have asked Santa for a new laptop.  Though I still don’t clean my room much, I have been pretty good otherwise, so I like my chances.  There won’t be any thumps or dings, no paper to roll up and down.  Hopefully there won’t be a note either:

Dear Ida Beth,

Merry Christmas.  Be a good girl and change your mother’s air conditioner filter.



Back to Christmas

back to christmasYou hear a lot of people complain about the commercialization of Christmas.  You see a lot of signs and memes reminding us that Christ is the “reason for the season.”  You read all kinds of articles about how we need to spend less time on social media and more time in real conversations with real people.  This weekend I read a pretty special little book by Dennis Canfield that makes those points, and a few more (maybe even more important), in the most delightful way.  It’s called Back to Christmas, and although it is considered a children’s book, everyone will enjoy this fun yet meaningful tale.

The story starts with Marmel who takes his job as head labeling elf (you know, “naughty” or “nice”) so seriously that he begins to believe the whole point of Christmas is to separate people into groups.  When the naughty list dwindles down to only one family, Marmel worries that he will soon be out of a job, so he embarks on a mission to make sure they stay on the naughty list… permanently!

Of course, Santa wants everyone on the nice list, so he recruits his brother, Reverse Santa to help.  That’s right, Reverse Santa.  He wears green, lives at the South Pole, and instead of giving gifts, he takes things away!

In the middle of it all is the Krumwerth family, headed straight for the permanent naughty list.  Only one of them, daughter Amanda, knows the danger, and now she must try to undo years of naughty behavior and steer everyone toward the nice list.

In addition to all that, Canfield enlists the help of flying penguins (ridiculous yes, but no more so than flying reindeer), a heavy metal rocker named Repo, more elves, and a little bit of magic to advance the story to its moving conclusion.  This is a perfect holiday story to enjoy on your own or to share with a child or anyone else.  Who knows?  You may help someone find their way Back to Christmas.

If you read this book and would like to share your thoughts, please do so here in the comments.  AND if you you’d like to share your own ideas for getting back to Christmas, please share those as well.