“Christmas, Children, Is Not a Date. It is a State of Mind.”


Dear Reader:

This beloved children’s Christmas quote, by famous educator and author, Mary Ellen Chase, first appeared in a Christmas letter she wrote to the younger members of her extended family.

My dear,

Christmas is not about the 25th of December. We don’t celebrate a date.

We celebrate the coming together of family. The goodwill upon neighbours. And the letting of bygones be bygones.

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.

One which puts a permanent smile on your face… and on your heart.


This past week I have had to work on my “state of mind” pre-Christmas condition. It has been a challenge.

I am going to cheat and share my “Holiday Monster” with you today to leave room for the sharing of all of yours coming… I hope. And also because it explains my different “state of mind” this Christmas.

photo 3 (67)

Yes, this seemingly innocuous little frog, a.ka. “Holiday Monster” has brought me “silent night” and day. Don’t let the picture fool you…this devious little frog has taken up temporary residence in my vocal chords so that every time I open my mouth…only a “croak” emerges.

I mentioned in last Monday’s blog that the Mt. Pleasant Christmas parade on a cold, damp night, did me under. Prior to last Sunday I had been battling a nagging cough…annoying but not daily routine-altering.

Until, upon leaving Tommy’s and Kaitlyn’s drop-in party…my voice was gone. Over the past week it has fluctuated from no voice to raspy to croaky. After finally breaking down and going to get it checked out…I was met with more frustration. I had  viral bronchitis that has settled in my vocal chords….no fever, all vitals looked fine…it is just the kind of “condition” one has to “weather” through to get to the other side.

I was told “Don’t talk…rest your vocal chords,” drink hot teas (see cover picture) and soups, get plenty of rest, stay inside as much as possible…especially on damp days….and you will soon have your voice back. “Soon” is Christmas Eve for me so I won’t have to croak out my Christmas story. I know I will get there…but if you have a moment…’throw me a bone’ in a form of a prayer…I think we need God’s “Big Guns” on this one.

This un-anticipated frog/monster has brought about  last minute (everything) stoppages…forcing me to remain inside, listen to Christmas music, and stay warm with hot “toadies.”


 I have been compelled to “Let it Go” this Christmas and it has actually given me time to pause and stop the “Santa Claus“… the endless buying.

The only flip side to the “Frog Monster’s” visit is a sense of isolationism.

I only have myself to talk to (mentally) and to be quite honest, I am getting pretty bored with myself right now. Me, myself, and I are ready to go play….get out there in the hustle and bustle and wish friends and stranger alike a “Merry Christmas.” (Not a raspy “May-We Chris-Muff.”)

Originally my “Holiday Monster” was going to be a cut-out of Medusa (remember the goddess with that strange hair-do of snakes?) and on each “snake” there would be an example of the things that we allow to slither in and play the role of “Doubting Thomas” during the holidays.

Then my second thought was to cut out a profile picture of me and attach it to this clock with wings…naming all my “Holiday” monsters on each point of the crown.

photo 2 (98)

Instead I got “Mr. Toad” as my unexpected Christmas guest.

photo 3 (67)  I propped him on my “worry” stone, said a prayer to God to help me find my “voice” again, and I have no doubt the story will go on. After all… this year…I am telling “His” story and I want my voice to match my happy “state of mind.”

So until tomorrow…Father, teach me patience and focusing on the things that are important, as my voice grows stronger for you each day.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* “Old Man Winter” arrived yesterday (December 21) and it sure felt like it…chilly and damp.

As I was walking by my “Happy Room” yesterday…I caught a glimpse of a wonderful photo opportunity. By peeking through the shutters…I caught a glimpse of the outdoor wreath and the completely bare (now) Bradford Pear. A beautiful combination to welcome winter in…a time to pause, reflect, and heal.


And now my hope is….that the “Middle Amaryllis” will bloom Christmas Eve…just like my voice!


If you can think of a “holiday monster” past, present, or future…please share it with us. Sharing our “monsters” build community by the comforting thought that we never outgrow the “monsters” under the bed. (To this day I refuse to dangle my hand down towards the floor)

Happy Birthday Mother. I love and miss you!

Safe travels for Walsh, Mollie, and Rutledge as they fly out today to spend Christmas with Mollie’s family. We love you!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to “Christmas, Children, Is Not a Date. It is a State of Mind.”

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    I said a prayer for you and your voice. There are so many people touched by your wonderful oral stories as well as written. Donna still talks about the story you shared last year at an educators’ meeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Becky Dingle says:

    Jo…Thank you for your prayer…I am going to need it…this bronchitis/larynigitis is really being stubborn…just seems stuck…literally like a frog in my throat…but one way or another the story will go on….keep praying!


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