My Very Early Christmas Morning

This is what I wrote, early yesterday morning:

It is 5:12 AM, precisely. I’ve been awake since about 2:39. A certain individual in my house, who snores has become an eruption of thunder since a cold set in yesterday. I laid on my cot in the living room with my mom sleeping soundly in the recliner chair and the aforementioned person thundering on the couch until 4:30. With a great deal of internal grumbling, I finally just got up and decided to write. Wouldn’t you know it, but now that I’m fully awake, the snoring has ceased and the house is as quiet as can be. It appears that I’ll be running on approximately three and a half hours of sleep. Merry Christmas.

I am annoyed and tired. And unspiritual. I’ve been thinking all night long about how little things like losing sleep are so much harder to deal with than large calamities. At least for me they are. Medical emergencies in the family? I can deal with those pretty calmly. It’s that one minor health issue that keeps popping up over and over again that drives me to distraction. Someone gets in my face and starts yelling? (This doesn’t happen often, just so you know.) I can bite my tongue and write it off. But it’s that one person’s habit of speaking to me that makes my blood boil. One day of intense pain that ends is so much easier to bear graciously than the neck ache I’ve had for a week.   

For me, the annoying circumstance has been intermittent insomnia for the last month. Last night, I was so tired I actually fell asleep right away. Oh, the irony! To fall asleep right away only to be awakened by snoring. I was so irritated, and the thought came to my mind, “Lord, would it really be too much to ask for a full night of uninterrupted sleep maybe four or five nights a week?” I began to feel that God was not being quite fair. And that was when I decided it was time to redirect my thoughts. To remind myself that God doesn’t really owe me a good night’s sleep but that I owe Him everything.

I’m pretty sure my spiritual progress depends upon how I respond to these small, but very irritating inconveniences, discomforts, fatigues, people problems…you name it. They are so very hard to respond well to. Right now, I’m so tired, I’m having a hard time formulating sentences and I know I’m going to be tempted to be grumpy today. But if I can’t respond well to this, this training ground for harder things to come, than when something does hit that’s harder, I won’t have any stamina. I won’t have the practice and the habit of going to Christ with my troubles, yes even my sleepless night, and I’ll have to learn it all in one shot.

So, here goes. I have no idea if what I just wrote is nothing but a jumbled up mess of nonsense or not. I hope it helps someone.

Again, Merry Christmas!

I’m going to go find some coffee.

My Favorite Fiction Part 2: A Christmas Carol

Scrooge“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

And so begins the most iconic of all Christmas stories A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I’m a little ashamed to say that my first exposure to this story came about in movie form and not the book. My dad used to watch an old black and white version of this every time we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas, which was usually every year. The movie always came on after bedtime and so there I would lay in the other room while Dad and Grandpa watched A Christmas Carol. I could hear every word, and I shivered and shook at the creepiness of old Jacob Marley coming back from the dead to warn Ebenezer Scrooge…oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Marley's ghost
Marley’s ghost

As said before, the story begins with Marley being dead, as dead as a doornail, in fact. His former business partner, Ebenezer Scrooge , inherited all the old miser’s money and proceeded with business as usual, practically before the coffin was nailed shut and without taking Marley’s name off the sign  at the office. Scrooge is not a pleasant character. As Dickens remarks in the first several pages, “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.” It is at Christmas that this story begins. Scrooge is, as usual, hard at work in his freezing cold office, counting money while his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, shivers away on his side of the room because Scrooge refuses to add more coal to the fire. After having an argument with his nephew where he refers to Christmas as a humbug, Scrooge departs to eat a solitary supper and from there, to home. A strange incident in which Scrooge sees old Marley’s face in the knocker of the door and is actually visited by a dead Marley, his face tied up with a handkerchief to prevent his mouth from gaping, dragging chains and all behind him, leads to Scrooge’s delightful change of heart. Marley warns Scrooge against his selfish, cold heart, and predicts that he will be visited by three spirits. The Spirit of Christmas Past will remind Scrooge of his better days and his softer heart. The Spirit of Christmas Present will show Scrooge the kind of effect his miserable character is having on those around him, and the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come will show him where his wickedness, if not changed, will lead.

I love Dickens, but I think it’s safe to say that this little story was his crowning glory. It is at once scary, terribly funny and heartwarming. The description is superb, filled with rich imagery that paints detailed pictures in the mind. Consider this little description of the weather on Scrooge’s fateful night: “Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so that people ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there.”

The story carries so many memories of past Christmases with family for me, that perhaps I’m a little biased in its favor. But then again, I don’t think so. Without further ado, find yourself a copy of this story and delight yourself and your family with it in the days leading up to Christmas!

Scrooge and Tiny Tim
Scrooge and Tiny Tim

Recent Projects

The first outfit--made from leftover material I used to make a baby dress.
The first outfit–made from leftover material I used to make a baby dress.

Now that my Fall book tour is complete, I’ve had a few days of reprieve from all the business. (It won’t last long, I’m afraid. I just agreed to play in a concert featuring Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and the Brahms double concerto for violin and cello.)

I am finally justified for being a pack rat. That piece of trim has been sitting around in my sewing drawer for the last five years because it wasn't long enough for any other project and I couldn't bear to throw it away.
I am finally justified for being a pack rat. That piece of trim has been sitting around in my sewing drawer for the last five years because it wasn’t long enough for any other project and I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, a cousin of mine asked if I would make some doll dresses for her little girl for Christmas. I enjoy sewing so much, that I was happy to comply. I just finished the project and delivered the goods. I started sewing on my own with doll clothes when I was in my early teens. I’d always loved dolls and enjoyed the creative release I got by matching colors, trimmings, and buttons. Of course, having six nieces of my own as a teenager, I had many opportunities to practice doll millinery!

Anyway, I enjoyed this project so much, I thought I’d share some pictures of the finished products. The dress and pinafore below is actually for my youngest niece. 

For my youngest niece.
For my youngest niece.

 I’ve also been designing some tatted hair flowers. I’ve done some basic flowers in the past and used them as graduation presents for girls in my church and other friends. They’re so pretty. I’m getting a little more adventurous with the ones I’m working on right now. So, if this batch turns out, I’ll use them as Christmas presents as well. Let me know if you’d like to see some pictures!

That is all for now. I’ll be back at this time next week with another installment of My Favorite Fiction.