Merry Christmas!

 

We are all hoping your day will be an enjoyable one! We will spend the day feasting and drawing and appreciating all our blessings including you, our readers!

Merry Christmas to one and all!

John, Gracie, Bessie, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia

P.S. Can you guess who got a new ink pen as an early Christmas present? It’s a leaky, drippy, and irregular pen too! 

The Promise Of Christmas

The Promise Of Christmas

The more I think about it, the extra time and work that went into rewriting “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” was an absolute gift to me. It allowed me to hop, skip, and stumble into a realization that I call “The Promise Of Christmas.”

Events and people come together in the most amazing patterns to influence us in unexpected ways. Almost two decades ago (after teaching for two decades before), I was working for a mobile phone company in technical support for a year and then in customer service for another year. There was a group that was formed called “customer retention,” and their task was to hold onto customers who wanted to drop their contracted service.

One of their retention specialists was an elderly woman named Miss Geraldine. She loved God and she loved her church and she prayed. It was an everyday occurrence to look across our big office suite and see her standing in her cubicle with her hands in the air. Often you could hear her saying, “Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!” Even if you couldn’t hear her out loud, you knew exactly what she was saying.

Now this was not my tradition, but it was hers and no one ever complained about it because she was the best the company had for customer retention. You could just tell she loved everybody.

Miss Geraldine had lived her whole life in our little city of Portsmouth surrounded by other bigger and more prosperous cities. She had lived through Jim Crow laws and segregation, and then she had lived through desegregation and the strife of the 1960’s. Through it all, she kept smiling and loving everybody no matter what.

I asked her about all of this once, and she told me, “God gave me his best in Jesus, so I’ve got to give everybody my best too.”

And that was the start of how The Promise Of Christmas began to come together in my heart and eventually into my writing. God is Love. Love gives. For God so loved, He gave. We are most like God when we give from our hearts.

As Miss Geraldine would say to you if she were alive today, “One Christmas, God gave us His best gift ever. All He had. All He treasured most. The least I can do is to give my best too.”

I have to agree with Miss Geraldine. I’d almost bet she had chickens in her backyard.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will have a good holiday season no matter what your tradition and even if you don’t have any tradition at all. Giving does not require a tradition, just a heart filled with love.

 

Perhaps The Perfect Gift (Revised for 2020)

Today’s post is based on one shared around Thanksgiving Day two years ago. I’ve edited it quite a bit for this Thanksgiving Day to fit with the changes which a worldwide pandemic have brought to all of our lives. 

Thanksgiving Day makes it official each year. The holiday season has begun. For most people it is time to share a meal together with friends and family. It often means sharing gift lists or at least gift hints for whichever wintertime holiday is next to be celebrated.

Some people, I believe, just seem to have a talent for always giving “the perfect gift.” For me, it is an elusive skill. Gifts never seem to work out as wonderfully as I imagine they will.

Yet this Thanksgiving, my chickens and I will give each other the perfect gift. We will simply sit with each other and enjoyed a pleasantly sunny afternoon.

But our hearts hurt for those who will be unable to do the same with their own loved ones, particularly when due to quarantine or death.

“Of all gifts possible, I do believe that the most perfect gift is our time to be together.” That is what I wrote two years ago.

But this Thanksgiving, perhaps it is better to write, “Of all gifts possible and for this year only, my best gift to you is time to be apart. One of us may not be strong enough to fight this virus which has taken so many beautiful lives from us.”

And for those of you who are unable to enjoy that gift of time together today, take heart. This challenge will pass, and it will help us to appreciate all the more what is ultimately important.

I believe love is truly transcendent. Love transcends time, distance, and yes, love transcends even global pandemics.

Be safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the anticipation of receiving that perfect gift of time together when all of this is behind us.

We are thankful for all of you, our readers, family, and friends.

Sincerely,

John, Gracie, Bessie, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia

This November, I was surprised by the sudden blooming of a chrysanthemum I had planted in the garden several years ago and forgotten. It had not bloomed since having been added to the garden. It definitely speaks to me of the things which it symbolizes: fidelity, optimism, joy and long life. Today’s illustration is from “Seasons Of Friendship” which is being revised for a second edition.