Christmas Gifts

Spinning my silver grocery cart through Kroger yesterday searching after plain frozen spinach and garlic and onions and fresh white mushrooms and tapioca flour and eggplant for my daughter’s Torta Rustica, gliding past bright red and green poinsettas stacked up in cheerful pyramids, I passed by a person singing along with the Christmas carol playing in the store. I smiled to myself and then wheeled into the next aisle where I hoped to find tapioca flour, and I passed by an elderly gentleman singing the next lines of the Christmas song to himself, too, as he searched the shelves for cornmeal. It was a Christmas gift to overhear the melody of my two fellow-shoppers’ lives.


So many beautiful cards have come in, even in this age of Facebook. I’ve put them all up in a special place in our breakfast nook. They are several deep on a shelf, and some are above it, propped on the wings of three sculpture angels, yellow, red, and blue, hanging there. Every day or so I rearrange them so that I can see different ones up front. They give an overall impression of gold and glittering letters that wish a soul good cheer. I read the Christmas letters they bring, and I look at the photos carefully and reflect on their Bible verses. I appreciate cards now in a way I didn’t always. Someone took the time to address an envelope, buy a stamp, and write a note. Each one brings joy to my life. These cards are true Christmas gifts because they nourish community.


One of the cards came from our son’s cousin in England. Tristan speaks several languages because he has a British dad and a Swiss mom. In English, he sent this joke: “Why is a Christmas tree like a bad tailor?” Answer: Both are always dropping needles. Such humor is always a gift!


Today I made a new friend, the best gift of all! Author Barry Hudock sent me an e-mail to ask could we have a phone interview for an article he is writing, which is kind of like asking a ten-year-old boy if he would like to play Minecraft. “Yes!” was the answer to that question. So he called, and we talked about that amazing twelfth-century woman Hildegard. Then he mentioned that he has been reading a good book on her Gospel homilies, published in August of this year by his press, Liturgical Press, and it’s by Beverly Kienzle. After we hung up, I clicked over to and bought a copy for my Kindle. A new friend, a book recommendation, and a Kindle version go together the way graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey’s chocolate do!


So, Kienzle’s book is awesome! I’ve heard that academics are not meant to be so enthusiastic, but then I live, after all, under the lighter and more flexible label of “happily gray-haired-but-dyed-soft-black student.” As a student, I may be as excited as I wish over the discovery of a wonderful book! I won’t say more about it because I must get back to reading it AND to eating warm homemade chocolate chip and walnut cookies, just now taken out of the oven, Kate’s gift to us!


Merry Christmas to all!!!

About Carmen

I teach English at Shorter College in beautiful Rome, Georgia.
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