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  • Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Special to the Journal

Country Notebook: Make the holidays simple

Updated: Dec 11, 2022



Following tradition, we sat down to the Thanksgiving dinner and gave thanks for something important. This year, due to illness, I was just thankful to be at the table with my loved ones. My daughters-in-laws and sister finalized dinner plans and my only responsibility was to give the grace and then ask for each to share a blessing. I even forgot to do this duty.


But my son saved the day and asked for each person to share their thanks. Most comments were the traditional thoughts like “family and friends” until my 4-year-old granddaughter moved close to her mother and said “my mommie.” Talk about melting hearts. If we had not been hungry, there may not have been a dry eye at the table. MK has spina bifida and her mother underwent major surgery to repair MK’s damaged spine about four months before her actual birth date. She celebrates two coming out parties. One when she was surgically removed from the womb for about twenty minutes and then put back into her mother. The second was her actual birth. Her mother deserves MK’s thankfulness for reasons MK doesn’t yet understand.


I didn’t say “a clean house” when it was my turn. I am thankful for my now clean house, but there was a price to be paid. I move furniture in an attempt to vacuum dead ins

ects, wash sheets in guest bedrooms, clean the carpet, and decorate the house with fake pumpkins and tom turkeys. A Thanksgiving recipe for “Getting Sick during the Holidays” will likely read something like this: Sift together plenty of physical exhaustion, few hours of rest, and a virus-covered shopping cart. Continue to mix together and then wait for three days to be restricted to bed rest. Though I had a flu shot, another type of virus took over my holiday plans.


Christmas and the winter holidays are on our doorstep and I’m assuming the spiders are frozen stiff now. I’ll do the usual “welcome home” cleaning, but not the Thanksgiving deep cleaning. Hopefully my immune system has stepped up a pace and I can look forward to glorious music, bright lights and bright colors. As I welcome my family back for another gathering, may the crispness to the air remind me that Christmas is so much more than a clean house, traditional foods, and gifts under a heavily adorned tree.


Let’s look around us. The bright colors of the season may be the red crown of the cardinal landing outside the window on berry-covered branches. The beautiful music may be the sounds of children singing carols. The gifts may be soup cans collected for the hurting and homeless. It’s a simple model but one that resembles the birthplace of Baby Jesus, truly a humble beginning.


God has His loving hands in all births, some more complex than that of Jesus although there were still dangers all around. Surprisingly he didn’t catch any germs from the barnyard animals or unkempt shepherds. His precious mother wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, probably His one and only birth-day gift.


The pathway to the barn was rocky, dark, and dirt-laden. Those wanting to walk the path to visit Jesus, whether weak or strong, in rags or riches, young or old, or clean or dirty, are happily invited in and welcomed to one great big, family celebration.


Take care of yourself. Recognize your limits. Look for simple ways to celebrate the season, and be mindful of the first Christmas. My greeting to you is simple. Accept the Blessings, big and small.

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