The Thin Veil Between Joy and Happiness, Sadness and Sorrow

Dear Reader:

*I wish I could say this was a personal photo of my Sammy who came to visit me yesterday (Cindy Ashley sent it) but Cindy you were actually very close to what happened.

(*I had forgotten to put more bird food in the suet cage while wondering why I hadn’t seen Sammy the Cardinal in awhile.)

When I realized it was empty I ran out and filled it up. Late yesterday afternoon Sammy’s red appearance caught my peripheral vision while typing this post. He was so happy…he kept shaking the suet cage to drop food on the ground, fly down and eat it.

Then suddenly there it was…a peck on the window screen. I jumped involuntarily.. Sammy had flown over and landed on the ledge…for  a second/fluttering to keep his balance…but just long enough to stare straight at me…the look saying  ‘Thank You’ for the food and Merry doubt! 🙂 He always brightens my day.

Then he flew back towards the heavens to await perhaps another message or mission.

One of the old Christmas classics Ben and I watched Christmas Eve was The Bishop’s Wife starring David Niven as the bishop, Loretta Young as his wife, and Cary Grant as Dudley, the angel. It was filmed about a year after “It’s a Wonderful Life” and similar to the earlier movie…increased in popularity with time.


Dudley turns the bishop’s rigid, regulated life upside down…as well as his mis-perceptions of giving… which have gone astray and titters on self-pride and glorification over a new cathedral… an edifice he dreams of claiming as his greatest achievement… in a time when many people are homeless.


At the end of the movie, the bishop (David Niven) reads a sermon Dudley (the angel) has written and left for him to share called “The Lonely Stocking.” The message still speaks to us today.

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share of  loving kindness, warm hearts, compassion, and a stretched out hand of love and  tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.


We must take time to remember on this 28th day of December that not everyone is enjoying some holidays off or excited about a new year and opportunities to fulfill dreams, even college football anticipations, or the hustle and bustle of excitement while hitting the after-Christmas sales.

Unfortunately…amid the joy and happiness of this season also dwells sadness and sorrow for many people, families we know and love, as well as, strangers and their families going through multiple crises around  the Christmas holidays.

Most of us have lived long enough to know that life’s challenges don’t stop just because Christmas has come. There is no amnesty called on Christmas day against enemies comprised of serious diseases or inexplicable accidents.

There are “empty stockings” everywhere metaphorically speaking…consisting of loved ones facing the likelihood of feelings of emptiness, isolation with the possibility of the loss of people who have been their lanterns guiding them through life…even giving them life.

Quinn Caldwell was right…The first Christmas didn’t bring complete fulfillment… we still don’t have a world  devoid of strife, disease, war, illness, tragedy or heart-ache. Advent is still with us…we are still waiting, longing for a new world-order governed by God and not man.

I believe this quote is worth repeating:

“Advent isn’t about fulfillment. It is about longings that are not going to be fulfilled for a long time. Christmas didn’t fix everything, but it started the fixing. Now we have Someone to wait with us…we’re not waiting alone.” (All I Really Want)

So until tomorrow…”We’re not waiting alone!” We have Someone to wait with us and most importantly… HOLD OUR HAND on the journey!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is telling us this with the lyrics…“Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy…Oh tidings of comfort and joy …the two go together when we give ourselves to those who need us.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

These days I am still catching up with reading emails and texts from Christmas and saw in messenger the following visual from Chris Frazier that she sent me…I know some of you have probably seen it already but I want to share it one more time. In fact I want to memorize this!

*The two “D” gals, Doodle and Dee, did it again! Last year, between the two of them I got red cardinal place mats, coasters…the whole table setting. This year both girls gave me “Sammy” bowls…beautiful. Last night I had soup in one bowl and homemade Doodle bread to accompany the soup. Delicious!  Comfort and joy girls…Comfort and joy!!

“Great minds think alike”.…Thanks Doodle and Dee! 🙂





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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