Don’t hold your breath during the holidays…How to stop heart hiccups by letting go of Hallmark expectations


So it’s been snowing all day cold and wet and gray yet pretty as a postcard.

Thanksgiving Eve I am in the kitchen prepping for our feast for two. Oven’s breath fogs windows and candles flicker tiny flames and there’s always just enough light for the next step.

And I am feeling a wee bit wistful.

This will be the first year in forever that we are not down in Yonkers at my mom’s. With various family members here, there and everywhere else but home my mom decides she’ll leave the cooking to someone else and invites us to dine out for the holiday. And my sons are far away, working or having other plans.

And I am just missing. 

Longing for all those I love most in the world. And holding my breath as another holiday season begins.EASTON IMG_1452Thoughts of a crowded city restaurant don’t appeal to our stay-at-home country hearts, and since we were down last weekend for a precious niece’s sweet baby’s first birthday and will be back again tomorrow for another family event, we opt to stay home.

Yet the break with tradition and all the snow falling and the afternoon fading and Paul Motian’s mellow playing Be Careful with My Heart has me at once both warm and and chilled.

Blue like jazz.

BLUE SNOW IMG_1504And all of this spins as the snow drifts and my heart like snowflakes falling dances slow on a wooden floor scuffed and I know I can run with this either way.

So I still. Wondering.

Will I see beauty in holiday moments not as merry as I would have them?

Or will I strive disappointed for Hallmark perfection?


Each day a real day full with choices and all the good or bad, joy or sorrow, love or lovelessness and everything in between. No matter what, though, my God is still my God and in that is great rejoicing.

So I open to take it all in with arms and heart reaching.


And after the kitchen is cleaned and darkness falls we step out on the deck all freezing to marvel at a sugar frosted fairy land blushing pale and pink from the halogen lights of a prison down the road.

PINK SNOW IMG_1509Mesmerized we stand silent in breathtaking beauty and His romantic mastery breaking any bars that hold hearts hostage.


Over and over again. Him limitless. May we never stop seeing.

GAME LIFE 2 IMG_1532Our little loft invites us in with it’s warmth and we decide to play the game of Life, a favorite when my sons were growing up, full of sweet memories with them.

Soft glow illumines the board as he sorts the money and I collect the pieces not remembering all the rules, just wanting to play for fun and my Michael — fiercely competitive — joins in and we both spin the dial and move our cars and collect our salaries and pay our taxes and get married and he has a son.

And He has a Son.

Yet the author of life doesn’t just spin a dial and move us through our paces haphazardly. Every moment of all the hours of all the life we will ever breathe is a lesson in learning to love better.

First God and then each other and all the others.

Our laughter mingles like wine pouring and our love weaving and a cocoon encasing two souls that have known much scarring.


And Father leaning low to scoop us up and love spilling till dawn breaks and we rise fuller with grateful hearts.

Snow is still there but parade bands pound and Macy’s balloons soar and our phones ringing voices and text messages from those near and far and his son long not heard from.

So thankful!

Turkey roasting and puppies prancing big and small around the arena vying and my heart dancing.

MEAL THANKS IMG_1540Heads bowed and pomegranate sparkling we take our first bite and my youngest texts asking if we are home and can he stop over.

Of course!

DAN THANKS IMG_1544MK DAN FOOTBALL IMG_1552Four hours later after catching up on all his news and photos snapping and videos capturing and laughter sounding he hugs us so long.

Me letting go while holding tight to all these gifts received.

And to my Father who let His son go so that we could be gifted as never before.


Moments come and moments go and we can cling to our expectations or set them free so we can freely fill.


SUNNY SNOW IMG_1563Grace unmerited, gifts unexpected.

And always love unending…

Sheila Signature Reduced




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4 thoughts on “Don’t hold your breath during the holidays…How to stop heart hiccups by letting go of Hallmark expectations

  1. Your description of Thanksgiving and the recognition of the beautiful gifts from God have warmed me all up with that same chill of the frosty snow. My husband and I shared a quiet (and good) meal together but we had no text to drop by for we have no children, thus my chill. Yet, I am 67 and know that God has taken care of me in that area and I know I am His child. I have just had to learn His way for my life. Thank you for sharing the lovely pictures of a winter for south Texas has chill but no snow (except in 2004 on Christmas Eve!!!).
    May the rest of your weekend be filled with the blessings that you give back to others.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • Dear Linda — Thank you so much for you kind and heartfelt comments. What a sweet soul you are. I am glad you and your husband enjoyed Thanksgiving but my heart goes out to you regarding children. But God! Sending you love and hugs across the miles and sincere good wishes for a very special Christmas.