A Daisy in Winter

It’s a mild January afternoon in Minnesota, but no one here is fooled. Daffodils and daisies, some of the earliest and cheeriest signs of spring, are months away. Plenty of subzero temperatures, sheets of ice, and piles of snow lay between here and that most wonderful time of year when winter gray gives way to…

A Tradition Worth Keeping

A three-tiered platter filled with treats isn’t really designed for a two-person party, but we’re using it nonetheless this New Year’s Eve. It was supposed to be part of a new holiday tradition in our house, but things didn’t turn out that way. At least this year. One of the challenges of living away from…

The Kind of Teaching We Need Most

I posted these thoughts three years ago, but they came to mind again yesterday during carol-singing at church, and I realized anew how much I am in need of this kind of teaching: While most churches don’t crack open hymnals anymore (if they even have them), the ones I’ve been part of typically still sing…

A Season Not To Remember

This week I lost track of the hot air blowing around the Capitol and the wintery winds blowing across the nation. Headlines from home whipped me back to another life in which I taught fifth grade. During those six years, I shepherded 153 ten-year-olds through what I considered the peak of childhood: they were old…

The Trappings of Tradition

For the first time ever, I am not home for Christmas. The airlines outpriced me on flights from and to the uttermost ends of the Lower 48, so – with parental blessing – I decided to stay put for the holiday. I confess that I cried when I realized I’d be spending Christmas alone, while…

The Host of Christmas Past

I just spent two hours swapping furniture between my dining room and living room because I'm getting ready to host a Christmas dinner party that exceeds the square footage of my dining room. I do realize Christmas is past, but not entirely. Not yet. While most of my friends and family have taken down their Christmas décor…

Finding Our Footing

Welcome to the new year! My Christmas tree is still up (until after Epiphany), but I’m definitely ready to start jogging off the Christmas calories and to start blogging again. In case you’ve forgotten, we’re in Daniel 2, a chapter in which King Nebuchadnezzar has a disturbing dream and turns a bit maniacal because of…

Of Xmas and Other X-things

’Tis the season for getting upset about people using “X” in place of “Christ” in “Christmas.” I don’t deny that a good number of people do want to take “Christ” out of “Christmas,” but using “Xmas” isn’t really the way to do it; nor should “Xmas” be a huge issue to campaign against. Here’s why.…

“Grinch” as a Verb

It was Christmas 1997, and my church singles group was out spreading holiday cheer. On this particular Saturday, we were taking Christmas to a needy family whose name we had received from the local Rescue Mission. We had spent weeks gathering Christmas decorations and purchasing gifts for the entire family. We bought a tree and…