A song for all the years

Wishing you a wonder-filled Christmas with a touch of childlike faith.
That’s Owen and Grady sitting in front of our Christmas tree, December 23, 2018.

“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart… filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever. Even though you grew up and found you could never quite bring back the magic feeling of this night, the melody would stay in your heart always – a song for all the years.”Bess Streeter Aldrich

When I was a child, Christmas Eve was the most magical day of the year, the anticipation sweeter than the gifts and feasting and holidays from school that would follow. Throughout my adult years I found, as so many do, that December 24 had increasingly become a day of mixed emotions at best, deep sorrow at worst. But Aldrich is right; the melody stayed in my heart.

Perhaps you are reading this amid the busy preparations for a festive time with family and friends. Your day may be filled with affection, connection, and the sweetness of shared laughter. If so, I rejoice with you. I have known the enchantment of such holiday happiness, and it is like nothing else on this earth.

But you may be facing Christmas with a broken heart, having recently been parted from dear ones through death, estrangement or geographic separation. You may be reeling from having just received a terminal diagnosis, or recovering from life-threatening surgery, or sitting, even as you read this, at the bedside of a family member who is hospitalized.

Perhaps you face financial difficulties due to a loss of employment or unexpected expenses. Or maybe your sadness has no immediate specific cause, yet you feel empty and alone at a time when it seems the entire world is merry.

If you are feeling wistful or forlorn today, I truly sympathize. But listen closely– can you hear the melody, however faint, that is still playing somewhere in your memory? Let’s turn up the volume on that celestial music. Just for today, let its otherworldly message of joy drown out the cacophony of strife, gloom and despair.

I wish you “tidings of comfort and joy” that will wrap in you warmth and wonder.

Please click here if you want to view this year’s electronic greeting!



  1. raynard

    Good Morning Julia. Just got back last night from” Cannonball Runs”1& 2. First was my parents Saturday in Western P.A. Then Sunday, We met Rev Monte and His WIfe Carolyn from The Upper Room for Lunch at the Arnold Palmer Airport Resturant nearby. My new named” Sue Sharon” and she'” got permission from Batman to park in the” Bat Cave. Got your card the other day and” as Capt Kirk says” Set a Course Warp Factor 1″ I digress. Be glad we ” all the holiday eating is over. I got” George Forman and his grill on one said and” Rocky( Sylvester Stallone on the other side” I digress. One Christmas from my childhood stands out. It was one where I got my first watch, a Harlem Globetrotter themed watch. Funny cause I broke the stem you turn to set the time. My late oldest sister was supposed to get it fixed. It turned to ” Richie Cunningham on Happy Day’s oldest brother. He went into his room ” as was never seen again that watch”. I have one on my arm from my Army days. It must be over 20 years and all I do is” change bands and batteries. And to think these kids are walking around with” Smartwatches ” like the Detective Dick Tracy Had in the 1960’s cartoon. I digress

    • Raynard, how wonderful that you met Monte and Carolyn! Did you get a new George Foreman grill, or did you just fire up one you already had? Sounds as if you had some hard luck with your Globetrotters watch. With the new “Dick Tracy” Smart Watches, I imagine a lot of those mysteriously disappear too. Maybe now in the movies when the robbers come into an unsuspecting group, instead of saying “hand over all the jewelry” they say “hand over all the Smart Watches.” Between Maxwell Smart and his shoe phone, and Dick Tracy’s watch, I think the cartoonists are pretty good at predicting the future.

  2. raynard

    Merry Christmas to you and your family

    • Thank you Raynard, I hope your Christmas was wonderful. Happy New Year to you and Mary!

  3. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    You’re right. The memory is there; faint, but there. Very nice picture of the grandkids! You’re a special part of their lives, creating that memory for them. Wishing you and family a very merry and blessed Christmas! Until next year!

    • Thanks Chris. “Next year” will be here before we know it.

  4. Sheila

    Good Monday, Christmas Eve morning to you and your family. How wonderful to see Grady and Owen by your gorgeous “work of art” Christmas tree. That warmed my heart, dear friend. 🎄 Memories of long ago really do linger in our hearts to be played time and again, if we just listen! I remember, think I was eleven, and I was anticipating a new turquoise bicycle to be by the tree the next morning. Trying my best to go to sleep, I heard a little bell ring….. could it be my bike? IT WAS‼️ That “ring a ling” still comes to mind, so many years later. Merry Christmas to you and your family! ♥️🤶🏻🎅🏼 Bill and Sheila

    • Sheila, thinking about you and that new bike brought a smile to my face. Drew gets the credit for making that photo possible. Megan chose not to come so Drew ended up driving 10+ hours (with an overnight hotel stop) managing two very active boys, ages 2 and 5, the entire way by himself. As I write this he’s en route back, doing the same thing. Had I known Megan was going to change plans, I probably would have told Drew not to come. Drew had sent me an email the day before they arrived, telling me it would be just him and the boys, but I did not get it. I had been expecting Megan to no-show but thought I would have had a bit of warning, so the visit started with a “slap in the face” nasty surprise. Of course this also meant that Drew had to take care of the boys the entire time by himself — pretty much a full time job — and I helped as much as I could, but since they barely know me they prefer Dad, and I was busy with Matt. But we did have some nice moments, and we did get that photo so I’m glad you enjoyed seeing it. 😀

      • Sheila

        Good morning, Julia. I’m so sorry that you had the disappointment and hope in time, this will pass. Thank you so much for your Christmas card and your thank you note. I’m so glad I chose your favorite flavor but that means they’ll disappear quicker! I’m always amazed that those thin, perfect cookies are still hand rolled and hand cut. I hope that you and Matt are enjoying this window of time, sandwiched between Christmas and New Year! I look forward to the many Verandah’s we’ll share in 2019. Thank you for “Defeat Despair” as we continue to strive for just that‼️ Love to y’all everyday ♥️🙏🏻

        • Sheila, as I write this I am enjoying a few of the remaining cookies with my morning tea. They are SO wonderful! The perfect degree of sweetness, crispiness, and flavor. Quite unique. And yes, that hand rolled (and hand packed) quality somehow comes through in the taste, which shouts “home baked.” Matt and I did enjoy the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We went to York County and spent some time with our faithful friends there, about whom I’ve blogged frequently here. Also I had some neighbors in for dessert & coffee at the new NoVa home, before we left for York. We have the most wonderful family next door. Hope all is well at 428, and that 2019 is off to a great start for you.

      • I’m so glad that you had this time to get to know the boys better, and they, you!

        • Thank you, Susan. We really did have some fun time together. One of my favorite memories is of watching Grady running ahead of us into a museum, and Owen trotting behind him, calling “wait, big brother!” Owen calls Grady “big brother” quite a lot, and once I heard Grady patiently respond, “Owen, my name is Grady.” 😀

          • LOL
            Yes, Grady is his “given name,” but apparently Owen has “given” Grady another! That is so funny! Thanks for telling me that.
            It’s sweet. When we call someone according to our relationship with them, it’s more personal than calling them by name, I think.

            • Susan, I agree. Coming from a two-year old with only a rudimentary command of language, it was adorably affectionate.

  5. Ron Wood

    Thank you Julia for being a special part of my life. My thoughts and prayers of thanksgiving are with you and your family not just at this special time but throughout the year. Thank you for all you do for friends and strangers alike.

    • Thank you Ron, these words mean a great deal to me. I appreciate your kindness, your prayers and your presence here!

  6. Ron Wood

    Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks Ron! It’s a bit late for me to wish you Merry Christmas, but I hope it was wonderful for you and your family. Happy New Year! 😀

  7. Bobby Harris

    May you hear that song clearly today. Wishing you many joys in the coming year.

    • Thank you Bobby. I keep hoping for those many joys and maybe eventually they will show up. Till then, thanks for being here!

  8. EDWARD SIGMAN or Millie

    Merry Christmas, Julie. I love your inspirational posts shared through your losses and struggles. It is a marvelous display of your inner strength, compassion, gentleness and courage. God’s blessings! Millie Sigman, Polvadera, New Mexico

    • Millie, thank you so much for your kind words and warm thoughts. Right now I feel neither strong nor compassionate nor gentle nor brave, but if someone else can see that in me through what I write, it means a great deal. I’m so happy you are with us! And I especially thank you for taking the time to let me know you are there. Hope 2019 is full of abundance and joy for you.

  9. Ann

    Julia, I’m so glad you are spending time with Owen and Grady!! They are so handsome.
    Love the electronic card! Best wishes!!

    • Thank you, Ann. I’m glad you liked the card!

  10. Thank you for remembering and acknowledging the mixed emotions the holidays can bring. I wish you joy and peace, Julia, today and always.

    • Thank you, Denise. I wish the same for you! And thanks for being here.

  11. tpeastin

    Hi Julia…almost the end of the year…and not sure I’ve commented in 2018, so here goes:

    First- a belated Merry Christmas wish and an early Happy New Year wish to you and Matt!
    Second- you know I’m a big fan of your blog…keep at it my dear!
    Third- though the circumstances at Christmas may not have been ideal (as far as who showed/didn’t show, etc.), it is lovely that you got to spend time with both of your sons and your darling grandsons.
    Fourth- my daughter-in-law once told me something that her dad told her and it has stuck with me: “People will disappoint you.” That’s life, eh? At the same time, we are people too, so we must disappoint other at times too.
    Fifth- know you are loved…beloved in fact…not only by imperfect mortals, but by the Creator of the heavens and earth, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the unfathomable expanse of the universe, you and the hairs on your head are accounted for and loved. Always remember that!

    God Bless You!



    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:16 (KJV)

    • Pat, this is beautiful, and it means so much. Thank you. ❤

  12. Carolyn

    Love the picture of Grady &Owen. We have been remembering lots of memories this past week. We had our 53rd. Anniversary on the 18th, also Terry’s brother died that day 7years ago. We loss my mom 19 years ago on the 22nd. I am praying for a healthy 2019. Wishing you the best for the new year.and hope to see you in June. Love & hugs to you and Matt.

    • Wow, Carolyn, many milestones in just a few words there. Yes, I will join you in praying for a healthy 2019. I am so happy you are still doing well. Can’t wait to see you again!

  13. Harry Sims

    We had our annual Christmas day dinner at AA on Christmas Day and the hostess asked me if I would say grace.
    I said ‘sure Patricia but may I put it in my own words and way’?
    She said “why sure Harry” so here goes — — Acapello.

    “Bless this food oh Lord we pray
    help us to be good today,
    by Your hand we must be fed,
    give us Lord our daily bread”.

    • Harry, those last two lines are almost identical to the prayer we used to say in our (public) elementary school before lunchtime. WOW, how things have changed! With humans, that is. Not with God. 😀

  14. MaryAnn Clontz

    Overjoyed that the grandsons were at your home! Sending much love to you & “my” Matt!
    Love the post from Pat reminding us to concentrate on the most important: our Lord!

    • Thank you Mary Ann. Isn’t Pat a blessing? It’s as if she has “to you, with love from God” tattooed on her forehead! Seriously, she has been a great light in my life, as you have! ❤

  15. Good morning, Julia! Yes, I remember those magical feelings of Christmas Eve. You know they are still there, somewhere, if I can set my mind to focus in that direction … like tuning an old AM radio, years ago; there’s some static ….
    This year, I canceled my flight home and stayed with my parents so that I could stay with my dad, and my mom could still go to church. Then she decided not to go, because I wouldn’t let her bring my dad (out of the hospital less than a week, and being treated for MRSA). She said she could “never go, without him.”
    We dug up a “Lessons and Carols” on YouTube (sans lessons, somehow), and sang along, when we knew the carol. My dad even sang a few notes – and THAT was magical, in my book!
    Merry Christmas!

    • Susan, I love that “never go, without him.” Jeff had much the same attitude toward doing anything when I couldn’t accompany him, especially social events. Though it meant I ended up going along to many places I wasn’t necessarily keen to go, I always felt important in Jeff’s life. That’s something I miss sorely. So celebrate your parents’ togetherness! (And be prepared to provide a lot of emotional support whenever one or the other of them has to grieve what I’ve always felt to be the ultimate loss in life.) Re: Lessons and Carols — I was wondering whether it was my imagination that these events gradually seem to have become more Carol than Lesson! I suppose it was inevitable. It warms my heart to think of you three, singing along with the lovely hymns of the season. Joy to the World, indeed! ❤ And thanks for spending this holiday season with your Mom and Dad. It was a precious gift for all of you! BTW, Public Radio has wonderful broadcasts of Lessons and Carols, usually from Cambridge, which holds an edge over Oxford in the choral department– I've heard they derisively refer to Oxford as "the land of dreaming spires and screaming choirs." 😀

      • Oh my! I had never stopped to think about it, but I certainly can envision a Cambridge – Oxford rivalry in the arts!

        • I think they are rivals in pretty much everything, similar to Harvard and Yale I guess. From what I’ve heard, Oxford is ahead of Cambridge in most respects, but not in music. Having attended Vespers at both Christchurch (Oxford) and Cambridge (King’s College) I can vouch for the superiority of Cambridge based on that very limited sample of one experience. And of course, Cambridge can boast Watson and Crick and the double helix.

  16. Thanks for the greeting, Julia! I just knew those were “your” little foxes! 😉

    • Susan, I thought you would recognize them. 😀

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: