Before the Year Ends

bake-bakery-baking-264779So we’re fixing to close out 2018 and I thought I’d give you a peek into what goes on around here during this time of the year.

I LOVE HOLIDAY BAKING COMPETITION SHOWS! I have no idea what most of the fancy ingredients are and I sure don’t know how to pronounce them (or use them).

Honestly, I don’t much care for baking. I have my standards that I fix during the holidays and though I might be impressed by some amazing dessert I see on a show, I don’t have time to be messing with new stuff that may or may not come out amazing.

So I began to wonder–puzzling till my puzzler was sore–just why I sit glued to the screen, watching these shows and wearing out the Food Network (which I NEVER watch any other time of the year). And then a friend said, “Ummm…you think it might have something to do with your competitive spirit?”

Which is her nice way of saying, “Yo, Cathy. You are extremely competitive.”

Oh my shoe pastry! Or is it choux? Whatever. I love competition. I love watching people race against the clock! I love watching creativity-in-action, especially when things go wrong! I love when the dark horse surges ahead or when the contestant who didn’t believe in herself (or himself) suddenly comes into her (or his) own.

In the end, I don’t care much who wins, though it’s usually the one I was rooting for, and I celebrate along with him or her. Because there’s something else I love to see: that victorious moment when a contestant gets validation for all the hard work and realizes a dream come true. That’s pure joy and that’s what I love to see most of all.

And so here it is, almost Christmas, and it occurred to me that every day is kind of a competition, isn’t it? It’s a race against the clock to get everything done, to beat the obstacles that come along, threatening to derail you from the sweet dreams of your finish line.

Maybe it’s just messing up the timing on the fudge and how the heck can you save this treat? Or maybe it’s pulling out the Christmas stuff and finding a gift tag with a note from a loved one lost and how can you celebrate without him?

But then miracles of miracles, divine inspiration hits and you figure out the fudge solution! And a grown-up kid (or two!) show up on your doorstep unexpectedly and you go out to eat and laugh and fuss and laugh some more.

There’s a moment that comes along in the midst of it all, the realization of deep down joy, and my heart is full of gratitude. Because I know that despite the obstacles, be they big or small, joy has returned, and that’s a gift worth celebrating any time of year!

(Joy to you and yours today and always!)


The One About Christmas

IMG_20171219_113631We are always so busy this time of the year, and yet I often think our hearts long for simpler days. A little peace, a little comfort and joy. And love, too, of course. All of which may get lost in all the hustle and bustle of baking and buying, cleaning and planning. In our rush to give, we sometimes just plumb give out!

But I have something for you, and I hope you have a few moments to give it a read. It’s a story from Pearl S. Buck called “Christmas Day in the Morning,” and it will surely lift your weary heart.

And if you have twelve minutes, then maybe you can have a hot cup of tea and listen and watch this same story here. Either way, I hope you’ll feel it’s been worth your time.

And happy, happy Christmas to you all from me and Libs!

Happy Christmas from Mr. C, Dolly, and Me

pexels-photo-250175I always think of Perry Como at Christmas.

My dad loved Perry and so I watched Mr. C’s shows–in black and white; yes, I’m that old–and even after I left my parents’ home, I watched the Christmas specials in living color. It just wasn’t Christmas if I missed Perry!

Good, old Perry, gone these fifteen years. I miss him. And this year, I’m missing Dad, and Mom, too. And I miss the Beneficent Mr. Hall, who basically sat on the couch from December 1st on while I ran around like the holiday Little Red Hen, doing everything.

Hard to believe I miss that, but yeah, I even miss Mister Man ditching his holiday duties.

So it’s a little bit of a hard candy Christmas here at the Hall House. But like Dolly sings, I won’t let sorrow get me down. Because you know what I’m not missing? The love of Christ and family and friends far and near. I’ve got lots of love walking with me this Christmas and that’s still about the best gift ever.

And so for those of you having any kind of a hard time this holiday, I’m sending a special song, from Mr. C. himself, singing in one of his very early–yes, it’s in black and white–Christmas specials. You’ll never walk alone, friends.

Happy Christmas!




Fun Friday Find: Christmas Kitchen Towel Greetings!

First, I found A Southern Christmas kitchen towel and it was perfect!

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And then I had to get Southern Christmas towels for all my relatives and found another kitchen towel and it was also perfect! But I couldn’t afford to buy a gazillion Booklover’s Christmas kitchen towels for all of you. So consider this Fun Friday your Merry Christmas greeting, from my blog to yours! (I’ll be thinking of you when I dry the dishes. Well, technically, I make the Junior Halls wash and dry the dishes for our feast, but while I’m enjoying a bit of grog and watching the Junior Halls clean up, I’ll raise a glass and say, in a snobby, literary, not to mention British accent, “God bless us, everyone!” and then, I’ll be thinking of you.)

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Things-To-Do Lists and Prioritizing and The Grinch and Me

You know I’m a crazy list-er, right? (Or you know now–)

I list goals for the year, the month, the weeks, and daily goals, too.  I’m sure, if you’re not a list-er, it sounds like a lot of work. But I’m so used to thinking in terms of “Things To Do” that I get a little anxious if Monday rolls around and I can’t find my list of “Writing Things to Do.”

So you would think I’d get anxious when life interrupts the goals and the lists, right? But I don’t. Maybe it’s because I have The Junior Halls, and it’s impossible to always stay on track when kids (yes, even grown ones who refuse to pose decently for one lousy picture) are around. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman of a certain age. Women of a certain age seem calmer, less Oh-my-Lord-we’re-all-gonna-die-if-I-don’t-get-this-done and more Oh-my-Lord-we’re-what-was-I-trying-to-get-done?

But I think the most likely reason of all (to quote my favorite Dr. Seuss,  How The Grinch Stole Christmas) is not that my heart is two sizes too small, but that I’m pretty good at prioritizing. This past month has been hectic, what with my mom taking a spill, and me zipping back and forth to Savannah, and Thanksgiving hoopla and I don’t know what all. So. I’m just now getting to piled-up emails and manuscripts I thought I’d finish long before the end of the month.

And that’s okay. Folks are usually pretty understanding when you finally email them back. And the manuscripts will get finished, maybe by the end of December.

Maybe not. Which is my very long way of saying that I’m on a sort of semi-vacation during December because family and Christmas take priority. It’s possible that you may not see as much of me on the blog or your blogs.

Plus, you know I have this lazy streak, right? (Or you know now.)