Look Ahead This Christmas…Not Behind

Dear Reader:

When I came across this painting (using Norman Rockwell’s particular way of looking at the world) re-created by other artists…I had to smile.

It reminded me of Jake on his little ladder trimming my Christmas tree for the first time this year.

He was really into it…especially the candy canes…they were his favorites to put on the tree… because he didn’t need a hook…just put them on as is…he was the “Candy Cane Man” that Saturday.

He and Eva Cate also loved placing a “surcie” in each Advent compartment “car” of the Advent train because each “surcie” was a chocolate drop…When they finished they were rewarded with a chocolate Christmas “Kiss.”


Children are the best examples of always looking ahead…no matter what disappointment might have befallen earlier they always are excited at Christmas about new possibilities. Don’t we wish we could keep that child-like faith throughout our lives?

There are many scripture examples in the Bible that let us know God wants us to be always looking ahead for new possibilities in our lives…not looking backwards with regrets or resignation at the past.

Starting as early as the story of Sarah and Lot…we get example after example of why looking back with longing or regret in our lives is detrimental to fulfilling our personal destinies, lying ahead of us.

In the Genesis narrative the command was given, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.” While fleeing, Lot’s wife turned to look back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.”

I remember learning this lesson one time at summer camp. Every camper had to participate in swimming try-outs on the first day of camp to see if we could swim in the deep end of the marked-off lake by ourselves. My two cousins were stronger swimmers than me…and we were all afraid that if I didn’t pass I would get separated from them and put in the “baby pool” part of the lake.

I remember the whole time I was trying out…swimming as hard as I could…my cousins were running ahead of me along the shore screaming…”Look ahead…see how close you are to the finish line…!” One of the swim coaches was also yelling...”Don’t look behind Becky or you will give up…just look ahead.” I made it. An early lesson on keeping one’s  eyes on the prize.

My little feat, of course, went largely unnoticed but it taught me a lesson that I carried for life….I think everyone’s hero, however, today in the professional field of swimming competition has to be Diana Nyad. Her story is beyond powerful.

Date: September 2, 2013

“Find a way.”
That’s the mantra Diana Nyad said she had this year. And that’s exactly what she did.
On Monday, Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage, willing her way to a Key West beach just before 2 p.m. ET, nearly 53 hours after jumping into the ocean in Havana for her fifth try in 35 years.
Shortly after conquering the Straits of Florida, the 64-year-old endurance swimmer sat down with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
“It’s all authentic. It’s a great story. You have a dream 35 years ago — doesn’t come to fruition, but you move on with life. But it’s somewhere back there. Then you turn 60, and your mom just dies, and you’re looking for something. And the dream comes waking out of your imagination,” Nyad said.
“I just knew I had to do it or my life would end…incomplete…there would be no excuses or justifications for not trying again…I told myself that I would do it and succeed…while never looking back.”
I figured if I died trying…that would be better than having given up on a life-long dream…that would have been worse than dying…giving up was not in my vocabulary.”

After hearing stories of this magnitude on the power of the human spirit…we can all get through this Christmas without feeling sorry for ourselves or families…we can turn it around to making it the most memorable Christmas of all…if we don’t look back to the past and compare.

This will probably be the Christmas children will remember to tell their children and grandchildren one day..they are looking at us for guidance…Let’s make it the best Christmas of all!

One way we can always remember this Christmas is to hang a mask or family masks on the tree…but don’t let that be the only thing hanging…the mask(s) should be mixed in among the ornaments…so years from now when we spot it …we will remember it had to be the “Covid” Christmas…the best one as we all closed in ranks together to make it special.

(Cindy Ashley saw this mask at Wild Birds Unlimited and presented me with my “Sammy the Cardinal” mask…don’t you love it? Thanks Cindy!!!)

So until tomorrow….


I didn’t mention this yesterday…but when I went to flip the Advent Train onto the other side…it started with the 13th…I decided to “sneak” a Hershey kiss, but to my dismay I forgot Jake told me he couldn’t put a “kiss” in the 13th door because it was missing a knob. (The curse of “13” reigns again! ) 🙂

It was true…I tried everything…but to no avail…so this sneaky old elf…”stole” one from another date (not telling which one) and enjoyed every melting moment of it. 🙂

Yesterday I went over to my neighbor Vickie’s backyard door to drop off a plate of pasta I had for lunch with way too many left-overs from the deli….Her back yard and decor took my breath away….look how pretty!

A magical, enchanted Christmas low country garden!

Mollie sent these photos from Magnolia Gardens where she took the children yesterday…perfect day to go…spring-like weather.









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 Look Ahead This Christmas…Not Behind

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Vicki’s yard is gorgeous and thanks for the tip about Magnolia Gardens…go there a lot but forget about it at Christmas time…love your new mask and the point of looking forward. I am reading a book about Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy and Tim Scott says that …that we shoukd look forward not backwards…so proud that SC has him for a Senator…speaks volumes for our state…know it makes you proud as a historian…


    • Becky Dingle says:

      At Magnolia Gardens….they have one whole area for making Gingerbread Houses…in a makeshift Gingerbread house…pretty cool. Mollie said they had a great time!


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