All is bright

Pasha always loved to relax under the Christmas tree.  December 2010

Pasha always loved to relax under the Christmas tree. December 2010

“All is calm, all is bright.”Fr. Joseph Mohr, as translated by John F. Young

Today I’m having to keep telling myself to take a few deep breaths and stay calm. Being so far behind on household tasks such as cleaning and bill paying, as well as trying to enjoy at least some of the things I love to do at Christmas, I’m less patient than I need to be with the inevitable glitches that pop up here and there.

On Wednesday afternoon as I write this, the latest minor crisis is an error in Jeff’s home care supplies that were supposed to be given to him or delivered by now, but somehow got left out of the package.Β  Since it’s something urgently needed, it meant 4 hours of trying to cut through bureaucratic red tape and find a way to get the supplies immediately (“immediate” is a word not normally applicable to anything related to the federal government).Β  Now we have to drive back up to Bethesda to pick up a few items that should have come home with us in the bagfuls of other, more easily obtained things such as gauze and tape, having determined that some medical supplies cannot be procured any other way.Β  So, though this carol has never been my particular favorite, I find myself in need of its serene images today.

When I checked to see what was posted one year ago, it was interesting to see that it was about simplicity. Perfect timing! If you find yourself rushing around and getting a bit impatient, join me in taking a few quick minutes (I’m taking mine here, as I write this) to remember that the big picture cannot be spoiled by irritating details. I wish you heavenly peace!

One year ago today

Any simple thing


  1. Keep listening to that inner voice of calm, for therein is wisdom.

    • Thank you Eric. The words of Yoda seem appropriate when I start to sweat the (relatively) small stuff.

  2. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. I think in our world of technology and sophistication, the ” small things” ( the glue that makes things work) can be so frustrating. WE MUST SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF!!! It’s a new, glorious day and I hope all goes well. Pasha,sweet Pasha! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Sheila. Yes, we have sweet memories of Pasha under the Christmas Tree! I always hated to block him out when I put the gifts under there. He seemed to think it was his special den! I am so happy to have you with me here today and always!

  3. Roy

    I hope you have got through your crisis. For me it has been a crazily busy week. Now I am back in front of my computer reading your blog and relaxing. I believe everything is fine and you are getting ready for most special time of the year.

    • Thank you Bindu! I didn’t know who that was with the lovely violets – a beautiful Gravatar, although I miss your smiling face! πŸ™‚ Do you get a winter break at the school where you teach? I’m happy to have you reading the blog as you relax. I agree with you that good times are surely on the way for us. I’m so happy to hear from you again!

      • I have changed my gravatar back to the old one. πŸ™‚ Just preferred to be anonymous for some time. Here we have no winter break, and we (‘Bob Cratchit’s, in a way) have to work even on the 25th!

        • It’s nice to see your smiling face again! πŸ™‚ Since you have to work on the 25th, I hope you will at least have plenty of coal for the fire (in a figurative sense of course) and a generous employer who will make your work joyful.

  4. merry

    Julia, good morning. Hope you found all the medical supplies needed. But isn’t that the way of life…its’ always the IMPORTANT stuff that gets left out?~/
    Praying the issue was settled and you enjoy today.

    • Merry, thanks – we did get the issue settled (although it involved over an hour’s driving time in bad traffic) and we are now enjoying our day. I’m still running around doing stuff, but it’s all fun Christmas stuff! πŸ™‚ The Merry kind of busy!

  5. Nancy

    Yes, the devil is in the details..sometimes not clear until later why it is thus. Your old friend is 60 today. Thomas is playing this song on piano at his Christmas program today. How amazing you picked it today. Love and joy from Nashville!!

    • Wow, wish I could hear Thomas playing! Last night I kept thinking “Hmmm, someone’s birthday is December 19th; whose is it?” AHA! you have answered that question! Happy 60th my friend!! Did you get the e-cards I sent you? I posted one to Facebook and send a different one to your email. Sorry I didn’t remember in time to get a snail-mail card to you.

  6. Bobby

    Put your favorite Christmas music or favorite Christmas stories in the car and use the day as a gift to enjoy some of the best things about the season. Sorry you are having to deal with the mix-up but sometimes God’s gifts come wrapped in strange paper. Love and prayers.

    • Yes Bobby, and as you may remember from seeing my Christmas tree, I sort of like strange paper! I have a tradition that no two presents under our tree are wrapped in the same paper (it’s easier to manage than it seems, especially if one shops at the 75-90% off after-Christmas sales). The fun Christmas stuff is now underway. Thanks for being here with us in spirit – this comes with love to you and Randall with happy memories of Christmases Past!

  7. Michael

    Watched Nicholas Nickleby on Netflix yesterday. Very entertaining.
    You probably remember the Xmas show at city hall in downtown Honolulu with the giant Santa display- kele kelikimaka. Our friends are now at Hale Koa so I am a little jealous. I have not found the Hawaiian Christmas Carol yet.

    • Mike, it always amazed me how all-out Honolulu used to go at Christmas. We loved the wreaths displayed at City Hall, and also all the opulent decorations along Waikiki in all the hotel lobbies. Also that we could stroll to our heart’s content at night without getting cold! πŸ™‚ The Frank DeLima Christmas Carol was a stage production and is not widely available on DVD, but supposedly you could get it here – although much of the fun of it was being part of the local audience getting hysterical over all the inside jokes. I’m not sure it would translate well to film. Meanwhile, enjoy this Hawaiian Christmas classic – and Mele Kalikimaka!

  8. Rene

    Praying for calm for you, Julia, and for Jeff. I am taking the day off work, and as I recorded in my journal all the things I could do today, I started to sense a less than calm day coming on. Have a blessed day instead!

    • Thanks Rene, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed, even when we’re overwhelmed with our blessings! I am giving myself permission to go slowly today and just savor everything about this season. Hope you have a lovely day too!

  9. Jack

    If peace is one of the benefits of this business of patiently awaiting, how funny to find myself postponing its arrival by my own choice. But choice is the heart of the matter…nevermind how much I have to do or how many things must happen by year end, if I choose to be peaceful now, I have been given the resources for that to be reality. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

    Nothing I have to do borders on the urgency of your chores, Julia. Mine is just about making money and salving my ego to make sure my kids have gifts aplenty under the tree. Thanks for putting things into perspective for me this morning.

    • Jack, you are welcome. I appreciate the time you take to send us your encouraging words. Sometimes I’m afraid making money has been given a bad name — after all, we all depend on it to fund our government, support our charities and put food on our tables — but the ego part of it does need to go. One thing that’s been remarkable about being at Walter Reed for a cumulative total of somewhere between two and three months of this past year, has been the continual reminder of how very basic our needs really are. The Walter Reed paper this week had a touching story about a man who just retired from the military – he is one of five quadruple amputees from the recent conflicts (he was nearly killed by an IED while deployed) and his spirit and positive attitude are just amazing. He says he can now have the time to be the father to his two year old daughter that he has always wanted to be. His wife is equally strong. Remarkable! I am reminded about what Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote in his latest book; that we tend to get confused about advantages and disadvantages, not realizing that some things we think are essential are actually unnecessary or even harmful. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season – and keep looking up to what is really important! It will light your way.

  10. Karippelil Mathew

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and Jeff as you make the best out of your tough situation. Your words of encouragement and comfort go a long way to defeat despair in many hearts during this season of advent. May the almighty hold you and yours in His mighty hands.


    • K.E., thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. I am always so happy to hear from readers who are visiting with us here and keeping us upheld in prayer. I appreciate so much your kind words about the blog. It has been a source of so much happiness for me, because of people such as you who take the time to reach out to us (an overused phrase nowadays, but very appropriate here) and bless us with your presence. I hope you and your loved ones are having a wonderful holiday season!

  11. MaryAnn

    It is heartwarming to read how you are reminding yourself (and us) of the importance to enjoy each moment. So sorry that you had to rush around to get the necessary items for Jeff, but so GLAD you are being Mrs. Incredible Care-giver! Thanks for Big Picture thinking.

    • Mary Ann, you are welcome! It’s easy to get over-focused on the details, especially when some of them are so infuriating (and other so fascinating!) but it really does help to stand back and admire the whole astounding canvas. (Much like the huge and fabulous painting of the Russian Bride at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in SFO – enjoy it for me someday soon!) Love and best wishes for a wonderful holiday for you and all your family!

  12. Oh my darling, I wish they would let Stephen pick up whatever it is and we could at least meet you half way. I am so sorry. Well I guess it’s time to do like Dorey in the Finding Nemo film and “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Swimming, swimming.” Love to you all.

    • Not to worry, Amy…we discovered the problem before we left Alexandria (thank goodness) so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Hope you are having the fun kind of busy this week!

  13. Larry

    Isn’t it always the needed things that get overlooked and left out? The days are made long when these things happen. Patience is a difficult trait to learn and forgiveness is hard to offer when mistakes are made. Yet, these things make us stronger and draw us closer to our family. There is nothing you wouldn’t do to make sure a loved one has all they need. We are thankful this Christmas that you are there to be that advocate for Jeff. God bless you and all this Christmas.

    • Thank you Larry – after all your years working at the hospital I am sure you can imagine we got home with little bottles of shampoo and mouthwash and stuff we basically didn’t need – but not everything we did need! All’s well that ends well, as the saying goes. I told Jeff the next time we come home from a hospital I’m going to bring home every supply that isn’t nailed down or attached to the wall! πŸ™‚

  14. Good post, good thoughts–good woman.

    • Thank you so much, Cynthia! I am honored to have you here.

  15. Emily Laveder

    What a GREAT perspective. Though your interruption was one of extreme importance, I’m sure many of us out here find ourselves rushing around over things that are of far less significance. Instead of soaking in a few moments to look at the beautiful lights on the tree, smell the fresh cut evergreen, listen to the giddiness of a child as they think about the days ahead, smile and take the time to talk to the sweet salvation army lady who is joyful even though her circumstances are not – we get caught in the thick. Thank you for the encouragement to find joy in the moment that is…not that we thought about or hoped for.
    Love you so much and pray for you all every day!

    • Thanks so much Emily. One thing life has taught me about annoyance is that our reactions often bear no relation to the relative importance of them; sometimes the littlest things get us most angry. For me, it was the arrogant disregard of a postal clerk yesterday who was seemingly on a power trip about how many people she was holding up while she moved slowly and asked endless unneeded questions, while managing to verbally scold those who got understandably impatient. Now granted, in the great scheme of things, this is nothing whatsoever to get upset about, but it made me FURIOUS. I kept having to remind myself to enjoy all the wonder around me, including the persistently cheerful demeanor of most of the customers who were being jerked around. I loved reading your list of delights here – the scent of evergreen will always be a favorite of mine! Love to you and your family!

  16. Oh phooey, it’s so frustrating when others don’t take care with important details. It’s a shame because it would have been easily remedied by checking a list twice and making sure you’re not a naughty employee, but nice πŸ˜‰ I think it’d be nice if some retail clerks look up once in a while to smile or say thanks for waiting when you finally reach the till too. Or why not start a rendition of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ in their line-up? I’m sure it’d catch on AND lighten the mood for their shoppers. I’d be a terrible boss, I would not want to keep these sulky faced employees who think they are doing YOU the favour by checking your things. I know its the pits to work when there’s so many other fun things to be doing, but we’ve all done it at times.

    As I see your wonderful photo of Pasha calmly sitting by the tree, I’m reminded how these irritants just magically melt away when you walk in the door and greeted by a wagging tail and smile or in my case, little black faces and soft meow’s. Even though, I think cats are actually saying, “how dare you abandon me all day, my snuggles are overdue” -vs- a dog would say, “I missed you so much, I’ve been waiting for you, you make me so happy”…LOL

    • I feel the same way about customer service. I worked at Rich’s in Atlanta where we were taught that the customer was literally always right. Some said Rich’s went to extremes, taking back used merchandise after many months with no questions asked (to give just one example) but we had loyal customers who returned again and again because they knew they’d be treated right. Things are way less expensive now, relatively speaking, but we’ve lost something in customer service and common courtesy.

      YES our furry friends can make everything so much easier. We always called Pasha our little stress-buster. Kitties and doggies have different ways of showing their affection but both are marvelous. Are you familiar with the comic strip “Rhymes with Orange?” Hilary Price is the best at capturing all the funny and endearing ways of cats and dogs. Here’s a sample of one of her cartoons, and here is another that’s one of my all-time favorites.

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