Saving graces

Christmas at Rockefeller Plaza by Rob Young By Rob Young from United Kingdom (Christmas @ Rockefeller Plaza) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Christmas at Rockefeller Plaza by Rob Young, United Kingdom
CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become. But there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress.”May Sarton

If you’ve ever been to Rockefeller Center at Christmas, you know how magical it can be. Even if you don’t catch the truly spectacular Christmas extravaganza at the Radio City Music Hall, just seeing the dazzling tree and ice skaters is unforgettable.  For me, there’s a paradoxical feeling of peace there amid the frenetic pace of the city, as if the sheer beauty creates a world apart.

The great thing is that we need not travel to Manhattan to experience this sort of bliss.  Our home towns and living rooms and back yards also hold moments of enchantment.  For me, these have included hearing the excited voices of neighborhood children outside our windows, the glow of Christmas lights at night after all is quiet, and the cards, crossing the miles from faraway friends, that connect us to people we will always hold dear.

Whether this finds you rushing about finishing up last minute details, or basking in the delight of having nothing more to do but enjoy the holidays, I hope your day will be filled with these moments of grace that provide a fitting benediction to a year we have been blessed to survive.  May your days this week be merry and bright!


  1. Yes – “cards, crossing the miles from far-away friends.” More special the older I get. I got an email from a faraway friend. It was warm in tone, but lacked the old-fashioned feel of quill put to parchment, as it were.
    NYC at Christmas – Bah! Humbug!
    A poor man’s hovel, warmed only by a wood fire; a scrawney Red Cedar tree in the corner, decorated by grandchildren’s art, cut from colored construction paper; and not to forget the popcorn kernels carefully strung with needle and thread and draped about the tree as fine, glittery tinsel; the stockings? real, actual stockings – you know, so narrow at the top, a tangerine (the richest treasure to be found inside) can barely fit inside. The only outside decoration is a carefully crafted evergreen wreath on the door. But standing before the wreath, one cold evening, right at dusk, the angelic voices of young people carry through that old wooden door, and warm the heart of the old man: “It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old. . .”

    • Yes, there are so many advantages to electronic communications — speed, the ability to easily send colorful photos, the way they can be stored without taking up physical space in the home. But still, at least for our generation, nothing will replace pen and paper. I love the word picture you have given us of the homespun Christmas; it is indeed charming. But I can’t say “Bah Humbug” to the city either. NYC at Christmas is endearing also, and it doesn’t exist only in the bling and dazzle. The heartfelt cheer of the cab drivers and vendors and families out enjoying the sights is part of the appeal. I can just hear you saying “Heartfelt cheer from a cabbie? Are we talking about the same city?” 😀 But I have never failed to find good will on the streets of New York, abrupt though it often seems. As with the contrasting advantages of digital vs. paper, I enjoy both the city and country, and I think it’s wonderful that this old world can have so many different forms of beauty. Merry Christmas to all!

  2. Good morning, Julia! My impression of Rockefeller Center at Christmas was similar. How it manages to appear both busy and peaceful is a mysterious dichotomy.
    I accidentally gained too much weight already to fit into my Christmas dress (ooops!). Perhaps it’s a hint to focus on “the reason for the season” instead of the edible delights!
    Blessings to you and all of your loved ones this Christmas! (I hope to see future posts that include photos from this year!)

    • Susan, I have resigned myself to the notion that the holidays are no time to worry about weight. Traditionally, that’s the time I pull out all the old fat-filled recipes that I had to mostly abandon years ago, and indulge in cheesy potatoes, green beans with almonds and fried onions, hot rolls with plenty of butter, and more sugar than I have any business consuming. But I agree that none of these things should be our primary focus; they’re just nice extras, a symbol of the deep joy we feel at the words “Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Thanks for saying you’d like to see some photos – I always feel I’m indulging to share personal pictures online, so it’s nice to know that some people might not be rolling their eyes at it. 😀 Of course, my camera lens seems to stay focused on Grady these days; I’m a typical Granny! Blessings to you and yours too!

  3. raynard

    Julia first thank you for the card. I believe my wife has put all last minute cards in the mail by now.My vacation started last Friday. Still have not ventured in a store yet. Christmas party at the job today and a cake just out of the oven as we speak. Thru out a invite for a holiday video chat this week.Do you have Google Hangouts yet to make free phone calls and video chat? How are you and the family doing these days? Aunt is coming along memory getting better. She got a good bill of health on her last 2 checkups.Going to take a road trip to see my dad this week.We are still looking at new places to live so my wife’s aunt and us can have more room to stretch out..Let me get ready to decorate this cake and be out the door soon.Be blessed and thank you for all your support and encouragement this challenging year.

    • Raynard, please thank Mary for the delightful card – I especially loved the “pawprints” from Bijou, Oliver and Gypsy! I am so glad Ms. Ella is doing better, and I wish you good luck in the New Year as you look for a home with a bit more room. Also I hope your trip to see your Dad goes well, and your travel is safe and smooth.

      I don’t have Google Hangouts yet, but I’m sure that will be something I figure out eventually, as they keep sending me ads for it. I can smell that cake baking! Thanks so much for being with us on this journey. You have added many smiles to our lives. Blessings to you and your family for a wonderful 2015!

  4. Chris and Carlos

    Merry Christmas Julia, Jeff, and Matt. Much love, prayer, and best wishes from Alabama!

    • Thank you Chris and Carlos! Love to you and all the family!

  5. Amy

    Hey friend, sorry I have not called. I assume that you would have called if you had needed us. Going back to work has been hard for me but I still count my blessings. I hope we can see you soon. Enjoy Drew, Megan and the baby. Kat and Jerry will be here tomorrow. I love you.

    • Hi Amy, hope this finds you having some Christmas fun. We will find some way to work in a little tea party here or there in the next few weeks, I’m sure. Till then I’m sending you some virtual chocolate and lots of love to all from our home to yours!

  6. Sheila

    Good Monday morning,Julia, and everyone. 🎄 I’ve thought of your household several times this morning, just knowing you’re waking up with Grady and family to add to the excitement. 🎅 I loved seeing inside Radio City Music Hall and a glimpse of the fabulous Christmas show. 🎅 Enjoy your day! Love ya’ll…. 🎁

    • Hi Sheila! We are having a fun holiday here and yes, Grady is adding considerably to the general merriment. Hey guess what – my yearly membership to CLUB VERANDAH arrived at my doorstep yesterday! 😀 Since it was busy, I refrained from the impulse to sit down and look at every single photo immediately. I know I will enjoy it again and again in the year to come. If you haven’t seen the Christmas show at Radio City, maybe we will have to take a road trip up there and see it. It’s not a bad drive from here if you don’t mind toll roads, hee-hee. Love and joy to you this Christmas! 🎅 Ho-ho-ho!

  7. Julia, I pray you and the family are having a wonderful Christmas. Matt and Jeff are always in my prayers for healing and you are there for caregiving. Have a beautiful day!!!!

    • Cherie, thanks so much for the ongoing prayers, which we always need. I hope you and Ron will have a wonderful holiday season! Thanks for being here with us.

  8. Beautifully said and so true, Julia. Merry Christmas! xox

    • Thank you Alys – Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones too!

  9. MaryAnn

    YOU are a bright spot to so many! Thanking God that I have the privilege of your forever friendship! Merry Christmas to “my” Dentons.

    • Thank you Mary Ann! I am grateful too, for all the wonderful Christmas season memories of you — Magi boxes and parties at your lovely historic home in Suisun and games you played with the young people. It was almost like being with Mrs. Santa, you were so unfailingly cheerful. Merry Christmas to you and all your family!

  10. bobmielke

    My shopping is done but please don’t expect me to enjoy the holidays too!

    • Bob, my mother once “ordered” my brother: “ENJOY YOUR VACATION!” That has become a family joke over the years. So in that spirit I ORDER you to “ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS!” Hee-hee, just kidding. But if your shopping is done, at least you can be thankful for that! Merry Christmas!!

      • bobmielke

        I look forward to Christmas at my friend’s house. The Stubblefields’ have made me feel like part of their family for almost a decade. I enjoy their company and Miche’s great cooking. They are true my best friends in Oregon. Have a blessed Christmas Julia.

        • Bob, there’s a well-known saying that “friends are the family we get to choose for ourselves.” I feel so fortunate to have such friends, don’t you? Blessings to you this Christmas! Thanks for being here.

  11. HarryS

    My earliest Christmas memory was a time in the late ’30’s when we got oranges!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Harry, based on the recent discussions here, apparently quite a few of us have fond memories of getting fruit and/or nuts for Christmas. But not many of us can claim the late 1930’s as the date for those memories. Thanks for sharing that nostalgic thought with us. Hope you have many blessings this season.

  12. Julia…Merry Christmas!! Praying you and your family enjoy a blessed Christmas! 🙂

    • Thank you Merry! We have had a very nice holiday so far. Got the celebrations over with early, and now we’re just relaxing and taking in the fun. Our neighborhood’s luminaries had to be postponed until tonight due to rain last night, so it was a special treat to be out a couple of hours ago, walking through the neighborhood while everyone was setting out their luminaries and lighting them. Wish I could send you a video. There are close to 600 homes in our neighborhood, so it’s quite a sight and we get lots of cars driving through slowly just to see them. Merry Christmas!

  13. Michael

    The luminaries sound awesome. Can you imagine a million persons in Times’ Square?

    • No, but I always enjoy seeing the clips of it just before midnight each New Year’s Eve. I used to wish I could be there sometime for the big celebration, but I have long ago outgrown that wish, unless it would be from a complimentary elegant suite with a big window overlooking the madness.

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