While time stands still

Snow falls in Cambridge, England. Photo by Craig Whitehead via Unsplash

“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still.”Rachel Cohn

As I write this, snow is covering the ground for the second time in the past month. Two snows BEFORE Christmas? Unprecedented in the life of this southern woman. And very unusual for northern Virginia, according to the weather broadcasters. Come to think of it, I don’t remember it snowing twice this early in the year even during our four years in Ohio. I don’t remember it ever snowing weeks before Christmas at all, not even one time. I hope this doesn’t mean we are in for a particularly rough winter.

Still, it’s hard not to be enchanted at the sight of snow falling. Tonight it’s even more fun because my sister is here visiting, and we got home from running around here and there, just as the roads were getting slick and dangerous. Now we’re sitting peacefully by the fire, happy that there’s nowhere we must go and nothing urgent we have to get done.

Time never seems to stand still anymore, but I suppose snowy weather and Christmas are about as close as we are likely to come. Schools and many businesses close, and there’s a built-in, uncontested excuse for postponing errands and other activities that require leaving cozy indoor shelter.

Even tasks that can easily be done indoors often succumb to a languor that suddenly seems appropriate rather than slothful. Another cup of tea, anyone? Hot chocolate and decaf coffee are also available. Shall we watch a movie or dive into an engaging novel? Maybe we should sit and chat, or even better, sit in silence together, watching the flames dance in the fireplace, or the holiday lights twinkling on the tree or in the windows.

Snow (and Christmas) can bring stress as we cope with the inconvenience of a disrupted schedule, but the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks if we relax and enjoy it as an unexpected gift. Whether you are coping with winter storms, hectic holidays, or both, I wish you a child’s delight in December and its wondrous gifts.


  1. raynard

    Julia as I write this, I’m now the proud owner of a 2017 Subaru Forrester. ( got impatient about the Outback. So far I know how to ” work the heated seated and” hook up my iPod( so when the satellite radio goes away( why pay when you can get for free with more choices. Our weather has been cold. We had snow last month 6 inches. I have all wheel drive so” let it snow, let it snow.”Like The A-Team a plan is coming together for the next Cannonball Run. I have a Christmas potluck at work then I was invited to three Christmas parties. So there will be baking is done and even some cooking by me. I’m thankful for knowing how to cook and bake. Now Mary tells me we have a Church Christmas potluck this coming Sunday. Is your address still the same as we get cards in the mail? You might see a picture of me soon in “an ugly sweater and not”a puffy shirt like the mattress Mary seen on ” Ellen and brought .. No comment from the Peanut Gallery(me)

    • Raynard, congratulations on your new car! (Or should I say new SUV or whatever – I am totally unfamiliar with vehicles and can barely tell you what I drive). I like the idea of a heated seat, but I agree with you about satellite radio. I can see where it might be worth it for someone who drives a lot, though. Sounds as if it’s a “holly jolly Christmas” in your kitchen. YES it’s a great thing to know how to cook and bake! Jeff took it up as an occasional hobby about 15 years ago but then got to where he actually liked it and of course I was very happy he did. I’ll send you and/or Mary a FB message with my address. I meant to send it to you via a Christmas card which was to have been mailed a week ago, but it seems every year I never get to them as soon as I want to. I will be looking forward to that photo of you in the Christmas sweater and I won’t even ask about the mani/pedi option which goes much better with the puffy shirt… 😀 Hope you and Mary have a wonderful holiday season and let me know if the Cannonball Run comes within 100 miles of my homes.

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    Thank you for the thought of time suspended by the snow. As I started reading, I started to think about this coming Christmas and how it will be like several recent Christmases, with my traveling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and then my thoughts turned to being trapped in airports due to snow, and “when will I ever learn!”
    So this year, if I am stranded while I “should be” flying back to sing in the Christmas Eve service, I will just let the snow suspend time, and celebrate my own private Christmas wherever I am. A personal, private Christmas in meditation is something I typically don’t find time for, so in a way, it would be like a gift (and I almost hope I get stranded)!

    • Susan, that’s a great way to look at it, and I hope to adopt your attitude next time I find myself stranded in an airport or anyplace else where I’m tempted to stress out and think of how I “should” be somewhere else. Growing up flying Space-A as part of an airline family, and later as an airline employee, traveling on holidays was something that wasn’t even possible due to “blackout” days when there was no space available, especially for a family of four who wanted to travel together. So I got in the habit of never flying when it was crowded. For the most part that has served me well, but when I used to work at the gate or ticket counter for USAir, watching the holiday travel (complete with emotional reunions and farewells, back in the days when people were allowed to go to the gate to greet arriving loved ones or see them off) was not without rewards despite the added stress. As with so much else in life, re-framing the situation can be the difference that turns something horrible into something bearable.

  3. Judy from Pennsylvania

    What a lovely, lovely photo and relaxing thoughts you bring to me to start my day! Much appreciated as I anticipate another dreaded visit to the dentist in a few hours (that’s a weakness in my courage armor that seems to get worse the older I get!). Visions of snow and fireplace and a warm cup of tea are delightful and bring up many good memories, especially since I spent many years in the more northern lands of winter snow and ice.

    I’m glad that you’ve been able to enjoy such a special evening with your sister. I’m guessing that this was in your new home and that it marks the beginning of making a whole fresh bundle of contented memories there. Here’s to moments by a window, cup of tea in hand, watching the snow fall. Peacefulness is there.

    • Judy, I think I got as much from your comment here as you did from my blog post. Since I think of Pennsylvania as part of “the north” I couldn’t help but be curious as to what “more northern lands of winter snow and ice” you might be thinking of. I wish I could believe that the snow day my sister and I enjoyed was actually a beginning of a bundle of happy memories in my new home. With more than two years having passed since Jeff’s death, and more than six years since his terminal diagnosis (during which I stubbornly refused to give up hope until the bitter end), I still find myself bereft of any expectation that life will ever be easier or better. Having said that, I continue to get through the lonely days and nights, and in my better moments I tell myself that the future may be brighter than it now looks likely to be. Thanks so much for sharing with me here, and reminding me that there is still beauty, joy and peace to be found, often in humble blessings that cleverly disguise their own value.

  4. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    It all sounds so wonderful. I’m happy your sister is there to share some special time with you. I can remember only a few times growing up in NC when we had snow like you’re describing. It really was this child’s delight. 😊 Nowadays it seems like a rare “Kodak moment”, especially a Florida Christmas. The closest I’ll come to a snowy delight, warm cozy fire, and relaxing stress free is the Hallmark channel! 😀👍🏽. Have a great week!

    • Chris, my childhood was also a place where snow and even ice storms were seen as a rare treat. How well I remember the excitement of every little flurry, during which we sat by the radio, hoping to hear that school had been cancelled the following day! Having said that, I never missed the cold weather at Christmas during all the years in California, Hawaii and Texas. I have a funny memory of turning on our gas fireplace during our annual holiday party at our San Antonio home, hoping it would provide a nice atmosphere. Jeff ended up turning on the air conditioning a couple of hours later as the temperature became too uncomfortable with so many people there! 😀 So much for cozy, but at least we got a lot of laughs out of it. But it’s really OK if we create those winter wonderland scenes in our minds instead of living them out in real time. When it’s time to hit the road for short or long distance travel, a snow-free climate is just the ticket! Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

  5. Sheila

    Hi Julia! 💛 We have sunbeams after our many long days of clouds and rainy weather. It’s cold but with sunbeams, who cares? 🌞 I’m so glad Carla was visiting and enjoying the snow with y’all. ❄️ I was thinking about our Club Verandah and the different weather each household was experiencing over the weekend. Most locations had snow. Houston had much rain, Clearwater Beach was cool, Asheville had almost 2 feet of snow, Winston Salem had 15 inches of the white stuff, Bristol, TN was covered with over a foot, you had snow and we had much rain, wind and flooding in Garden City. That’s the weather recap from “She Cantore”. Hope you’re having a good week! ♥️

    • Sheila, I am so out of things that I had to Google “Cantore” to figure out what you meant! 😀 Wow, that’s a diverse climate snapshot, especially since all these locations represent a relatively small geographic area. With “relatively” being the operative word. Of course the consistent factor is the cheery cuppa shared with those who understand the importance of taking time to savor the small joys. With Carla visiting, I always enjoy adding coffee to the beverage menu at the Virginia Club Verandah. Poke up the fire (or turn up the switch) and get that fire going! I’ll meet you there, cup in hand. ❤

  6. Steve C Bodiford

    Just a small note of prayer for you and the quilt of emotions that must come at this time. Praying for your heart to have new found strength, your faith to be given wings, and many unexpected blessings to remind you He is always with us. Merry Christmas Julia!

    • Thank you, Steve. I hadn’t thought of the analogy, but a quilt is a very good metaphor for what I’ve experienced, especially putting up the Christmas tree for the first time in three years, all the countless ornaments a patchwork of memories that are beautiful but still terribly painful without Jeff here. I so need and appreciate the prayers, and I also appreciate your taking the time to let me know about them. Merry Christmas to you and all your family! It’s always a joy to hear from you. Wishing you many photogenic moments this season. 🙂

  7. Sheila

    Oh, Julia! ♥️ I bet you had no trouble getting much info on Jim Cantore. He’s a household word around here. One of my N.C. friends posted on FB: “Jim Cantore was just spotted at the Charlotte airport. We’re in trouble!” In the know, that’s us…. southern sister’s!

    • Sheila, that FB “we’re in trouble!” quote made me smile…not least because we’ve already had TWO snowfalls! Y’all keep that kettle going and bundle up!

  8. Mike

    What a beautiful shot that is of Cambridge. Norah asked Santa for snow this year and that did not happen here in Canton. Tons of rain today,but almost balmy out in the mid 60’S. I think I have fouind out about those cherries in bloom here now around town. Yoshino cherries and apparently they bloom twice a year- who knew- in October and May. So maybe these are late bloomers from the first cycle– I don’t know. They also have a houise plant I had not seen called a Star of Bethlehem with a little white flower and glossy leaves??

    • We too had some unusually warm weather the past couple of weeks. I have not heard of any fall-blooming cherry trees, but I am intrigued. I’ve been told that the trees at the Tidal Basin in DC are mostly Yoshino cherry trees, and those definitely bloom only in the spring. Perhaps it is too cold here for a fall bloom. If you’ve got trees that are in bloom right now, I want some of them! But of course, they might not do very well up here.

  9. Mike

    My DIL in New York got me one of Frederik Backman’s books, ” My grandmother told me to tell you she’s sorry.” Not that familiar with his works. He is Norwegian. Rachel belongs to a couple of reading groups in her neighborhood and this is one of their selections. As soon as I am done I have to send it North. It is about a little girl age seven obesessed with Harry Potter books. She also watched the Ring trilogy with her grandmother at age seven.

    • Mike, I have A Man Called Ove by the same author, but have not read it yet. The book you mention does sound intriguing, even the title. Let me know how you like it.

  10. Mike

    i have never seen rain like this before where you have to pull off the road while driving or else.

    • Welcome to the eastern part of the USA! Yes, that blinding rain is downright treacherous. It used to scare me to death that Jeff would almost never pull over no matter how hard it was raining, but would drive right through it. I generally pull over and wait for it to let up a bit, if I can find a place to pull over safely. Otherwise I go slowly and pray continually.

  11. Michael

    Wise advice,, “proceed slowly with prayer.like me driving the Georgia back roads in constant prayer. Which reminds me i heard ,dukes of hazard was filmed in North Georgia.

    • Mike, I had not heard that, but I’m not surprised. I wonder whether they would even allow re-runs on TV now, with a car sporting the Dixie flag? I never watched the show but sometimes Jeff did (I’m sure Daisy’s shorts had something to do with his enjoyment of the show 🙂 ). I do remember Boss Hogg being the funny character.

  12. Mike

    Yea I remember Daisy- but not Boss Hogg. Probably one of those shows from the 70’s that are now deemed politically incorrect.My son used to love watching the A team with George Peppard- which was a hoot.

    • Mike, I’m not surprised you remember Daisy. I think most men old enough to remember that series will remember her. Here’s a photo of Boss Hogg to jog your memory. Incidentally, I don’t think I ever sat through an entire episode of the A-Team, but I did see bits and pieces of it while Jeff and the boys watched it. I totally loved Mr. T and I “pity the fool” who never got to hear his gems of wisdom. I bet Raynard remembers all of these characters! I digress…

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