by Jeanne Gehret


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Decorated Christmas tree beside lace curtains
photo by Jeanne Gehret

During Christmas 1863, Daniel Anthony and Annie Osborn looked forward to their wedding in January. They probably weren’t able to celebrate the holiday together because at that point they still lived half a continent apart. I can picture Annie enjoying family celebrations on Martha’s Vineyard one last time while Daniel faced dinner at a boardinghouse in Kansas. How they must have longed to be together!

Christmas 1863

The U.S. was in the midst of the Civil War that year, and the nation as a whole found Christmas 1863 a poignant season. As this commentator observed: “The Civil War intensified Christmas’s appeal. Its sentimental celebration of family matched the yearnings of soldiers and those they left behind. Its message of peace and goodwill spoke to the most immediate prayers of all Americans.”

And so the sweethearts pondered the reality of war during the season of peace on earth. Annie probably prayed for her brother in the Navy while Daniel remembered comrades lost in battle.

Christmas present

Though war has not touched our country directly, we pray for those around the world in the thick of battle. We commemorate the Prince of Peace and acknowledge the solstice message that we are deeply rooted in nature. With all that in mind, I’ve been enjoying this book:

Book with sprig of evergreen


Here in the northern hemisphere, the earth is dark and dormant. Lighting the courtyard trees cheers me, and I make evergreen arrangements to tide me over till the sun reappears.

evergreen arrangement with large red bow
photo by Jeanne Gehret

This year I found my writing renewed by seeing new readers sign up to receive my posts. Because writing requires lots of solitude, bloggers like me are greatly encouraged by knowing that people are reading and by seeing their comments. Thanks for joining me here, and for sharing your thoughts with others as well.

I also found renewal through new friends at the Seward House in Auburn, which celebrates Victorian life in ways that resonate with my work on the Anthony family. The image below and the one at the top are from an evening when they spoiled their members with champagne and (better yet!) lots of chocolate.

As always, I welcome your comments (even if it’s just a hello). The best ( and simplest) way to do that is to scroll down to the bottom of each post for a box that says “Leave a reply.” That way, others can join in the conversation too.

How do you celebrate this beautiful season when Light warms the darkness?




  1. Carol Crossed December 22, 2023 at 10:45 am - Reply

    The Seward House is indeed a treasure, overflowing with history in every corner of every room. It must look glorious at this time of year.

  2. Jeanne Gehret December 22, 2023 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Yes, it does. You should see the table setting!

  3. Patricia ("Pat") Anthony December 23, 2023 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeanne,
    Merry Christmas from Eric and me! The Seward House looks exquisite! I find being thankful to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, brings joy, light and peace no matter what is happening around me.
    All the best of the season to you,
    Pat and Eric Anthony

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