Cheryl St.John: The Moments of Christmas

As I reflect on Christmas, I am drawn to remember simply the small moments over the years.  Moments that in themselves aren’t particularly fascinating or newsworthy, but that when reflected upon were the moments that defined the spirit of love that permeates the season. Christmas by its very definition is love. 

Recently I was reminded to watch the faces of the givers as they were watching others open their gifts, rather than watching the reactions of those receiving. The person who selects or makes a gift has thought long and hard and spent time planning, buying and wrapping, and is anticipating the moment when their gift is received. Christmas is all about anticipation—for children, of course, but for us perhaps even more.






We’re excited to see our friends at gatherings and our family members at dinners. Children and teachers anticipate the moment they perform songs and plays for parents. Those who spend hours laboring over menus and grocery shopping and food preparation are anticipating the moment when their loved ones enjoy that meal or that cookie.


If you’ve ever sung in a Christmas cantata (yes, I’m in this photo), you know the thrill of rehearsing until it’s perfect and then singing your heart out for the enjoyment of the listeners. I imagine you’ve had dozens of pictures taken and printed over the years and probably even sent at least one photo greeting card; we’ve all addressed and stamped cards, and all in the anticipation of sending it off to be enjoyed.

The presents and the hams soon become part of the hazy past, but the times we cherish are those when the gift of love was shared.


Looking back through photographs to find something that exemplifies me, I chose not to show my beautiful Victorian tree or my mantle swagged with garland and beads—which are lovely—but rather a few precious intangible moments that will be with me forever: My kids and grandkids spotting the sweet potatoes with marshmallows melted golden brown on top; those few minutes of stillness when only one voice is heard asking God’s blessing on our food and our lives; the clatter of folding chairs and discordant fifth grade orchestras; thirty tiny high sopranos singing Away in a Manger, and at least one little person who invariably falls asleep on my bed by the end of an eventful day. Those moments are Christmas.

The Fillies would like to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas. We appreciate you and your contribution to Petticoats and Pistols. Here’s hoping your holiday is all that you hope for and more, and that you take the time to savor the special moments.

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8 thoughts on “Cheryl St.John: The Moments of Christmas”

  1. Thanks for the pics and memories! Christmas is about family and the little things. I’m going straight for my photo albums and do some remembering myself!

  2. Cheryl: Oh my! We were sure a lot younger in that Cantata picture weren’t we? It brought back a lot of memories. Those were the days! I enjoyed your family pictures too and your comments about watching the giver. I started doing that a few years back and it’s true. A lot of time and effort is put into finding just the right gift and it’s wonderful to watch the givers reaction. Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories.

  3. Willa, in all these years, I never gave that star much thought. It was the living Christmas tree at my oldest daughter’s Christian college. The singers were stairstepped vertically in the shape of a tree and there were all manner of Christmas symbols as ornaments.

  4. Loved the pictures of you and your family! You all look so happy and content. That’s what Christmas is all about–love for each other and for our Heavenly Father.

    I’m late with a Merry Christmas so I’ll wish you a Happy New Year!

  5. Cheryl it looks like your family had a good time and really got to enjoy each other that is what it is all about. Happy Holiday’s!!!!!!!!

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