Gifts of time and love

One of several vintage family treasures Sheila sent me for Christmas, 2014

One of several vintage family treasures Sheila shared with me for Christmas, 2014

“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”
Peg Bracken

I love Christmas!  But it can be exhausting and stressful, particularly when invitations, intentions and demands are far greater than the time (and maybe also the money) to fulfill them. In recent years I have reminded myself to focus on the basic ingredients, and delight in what I’m able to do rather than longing for the extras I’d want to enjoy in an ideal holiday season.

One rule I follow at Christmas is to do nothing out of a sense of obligation, but simply for the sheer joy of it.  I prefer sending small gifts and cards so that nobody feels a need to reciprocate. What I don’t have time to finish doesn’t get done, and I don’t pressure myself to bake, decorate or entertain unless time and opportunity allow it.  Jeff’s illness has meant that many of our traditional festivities have been impossible in the past few years, but our holidays still have been filled with celebration and joy amid all the uncertainties and losses.

As I have savored various Christmas activities this year, from decorating the tree to wrapping presents to listening to Christmas music, I realize that most of what I know about these things, I learned from my Daddy.  I am filled with thankfulness to him for showing us how to celebrate the yuletide abundantly without spending a lot of money or going into debt.  He is so much a part of my memories of Christmas that it has been easier than it might have been to endure his physical absence this holiday. His spirit permeates everything about the season, so it’s almost as if he is still here with us.

I’m also grateful to so many of you whose presence I feel just as surely during this time.  The gifts of time and love you have sent me over the past three years have lightened my burdens and brightened my life.  My hope for each of you is that your December is filled with showers of blessings, shining brightly, warming your heart and home.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.



  1. Sheila

    Good Saturday morning, Julia and Matt. What a delight to see a long ago gift featured again this morning. Where have the years gone? Just so happy though that we have shared the gift of time over those years! Our Verandah is very cold this morning, here in Garden City. I think we’ll exchange that sweet tea for a hot chocolate! Enjoy your day~thoughts of you bring a smile🥰✝️

    • Thank you Sheila. This past week has been quite warm (in the 70’s for these first few days of January) but now it has turned off cold again. I returned from my walk and fixed myself some steel cut oats to have with coffee! Happy January — we’ll keep lots of fleece throws on the Verandah but those touches of green (natural and painted) will warm things up too!

      • Sheila

        Good morning☕️ The sofa is lovely indeed! Loving that we continue spelling “verandah” the Julia way!

        • Sheila, I got curious and looked up the difference between the spellings. Apparently the traditional British spelling includes the “h” so my love of Austen and Dickens and all things British is probably where I got the preference for that spelling. I’m flattered to be calling it “the Julia way!”

  2. Good morning, Julia! You give decorating the Christmas tree as an example of something your daddy taught you that serves as an annual Christmas reminder of his sweet influence on your life. For me, the first thing I thought of was “plum pudding.” That’s something I’d never have learned to make, if it hadn’t been for my family heritage. There are a lot of foods in that category!
    I’m enjoying a lot of Christmas memories now. Thanks for that prompt, to remember being taught those traditions!

    • Susan, I believe you may be the first person I’ve ever heard mentioning actually making plum pudding, though there are plenty of references to it in literature. I’m glad you know how to make it. Does it have a smooth texture, or are there bits of fruit in it as with preserves?

      • I can only speak for our family recipe, which includes suet for the grease, and raisins as the fruit! I’ve often wondered if it was originally meant to either be made with plums, or perhaps prunes (plums by Christmastime), and maybe raisins are a cheap substitute? My family were miners (I think) from Cornwall.

        • Well if they were from Cornwall, it’s probably likely they were miners. Or such is my limited impression based on Poldark. 😀

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