The Christmas Clock Just Keeps on Ticking…

Dear Reader:

This past Monday morning I had my regularly scheduled oncology visit…all went well…I have a Christmas reprieve from more tests or procedures until February when I have my CT Scan…so I left  feeling like I really am on a holiday break! A Christmas present from my oncologist! 🙂

I had set my alarm on my iPhone Sunday night since I had an early morning appointment…but like most nights before my visits I kept waking up staring at the clock until I finally just got up…it was the same Monday morning.

I thought I turned the alarm off and thought no more about it until later that morning while waiting on lab work it went off…to my embarrassment while I hurriedly found it and turned it off again…apologizing to the other patients in the waiting room.

It happened two more times that day while running errands…bizarre…I let it run down until it needed re-charging again and for some reason that seemed to set the timer right so, at least, it was no longer going off at its own will and crazy times…I think my old iPhone is starting to have its moments of dementia. 🙂

So when I saw this story from Guidepost about a Christmas clock, a memory, and a fresh start in life…I wanted to read it. In a nutshell the story starts with a clock that fails to keep time.

The name of this true story is “The Perfectly Timed Christmas Clock.”  (The author is Maella Blalock) The question surrounding her dilemma one Christmas was….

***How a Christmas Clock Taught This Retiree to Move Forward…This former lieutenant colonel felt lost after retirement. Could she learn to accept her new life?

It was December 2012, a week before Christmas. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table in Missouri, watching the hands of my Christmas clock tick toward the hour. I was waiting to hear it play “Silent Night,” which it did every night at 11 o’clock. The tune always lifted my spirits.

But the second hand passed the hour mark without a peep. My heart sank. The music mechanism must have broken. You couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for my life—I kept on ticking, but the joy was missing.

The past few years had been difficult. I’d served in the Army for 26 years, including as a military foreign area officer in Western Europe. I’d lived there with my husband and our daughters. My husband was enlisted but had retired from the military after we got married.

Now I was retired too. And divorced. My three girls were grown and living on their own. My life felt small compared to the adventure it had once been. What remained in life for me now….I felt as broken as my Christmas clock.

Maella remembered all the good years when she and her military husband traveled the world, had three beautiful daughters, and life was good. First her husband retired and moved them to Michigan…the girls were now adults and leading their own lives…which left only Maella feeling like a fish out of water…unable to easily readjust to civilian life with its clubs, meetings, and community gatherings.

Then things went from bad to worse…her mother, with whom she was very close, started showing signs of dementia. She moved her to Michigan to an assisted living home to be close to her… but her mother’s needs grew more demanding by the day.

Finally a ray of hope…she was offered a Junior ROTC program to run back in Missouri where her mother was from…she would have more help there with family and feel part of a military community again.

Her husband, however, was not enthused and insisted he was staying in Michigan…the marriage was steadily falling apart and her mother died a week after their divorce… now it was Christmas and even her clock had let her down.

“Now I sat alone with my silent Christmas clock. Though my daughters were spending Christmas with their father, I’d still tried to be festive. I’d decorated the house and brought out all of the European keepsakes we’d collected overseas. But I missed being a family, and I missed my mom.

I heard the clock’s minute hand shift, and something shifted within me too. I gave in. Instead of trying to strong-arm my way through the pain, I let the sadness wash over me. I felt relief as I exhaled.Things are hard right now, I admitted to myself. But in time and with faith, I’ll get through even this.

Once I stopped trying to deny my grief over the loss of my old life, it opened me up to new possibilities. I started to rebuild my life. I began teaching piano, volunteered with the food pantry at church and worked with a single moms’ group. I took up yoga and country dance, where I met a great group of friends. I traveled, crossing destinations off my bucket list. Slowly but surely, joy found its way back into my life.

One summer day, I was sitting in the living room when I heard a familiar sound, very quiet at first. Was I hearing things? I walked into the kitchen, and the music grew louder, until I was standing in front of the Christmas clock. I’d gotten so busy, I’d almost forgotten it was still there. Until now. Silent Night was playing.

Amazed, I realized that even when it was silent, the clock had held a tune all along. It was just waiting until I was ready to sing.”


A good way to start over I have realized is with new Christmas traditions. I love this definition of traditions but I think it needs expanding. (“Traditions” are the stories that families write together.) 

That is true…but just not families…each Christmas I keep adding on certain objects or ceremonies I have learned from others and friends’ gifts….For example this year…I will always remember Mike and Honey’s departure from Summerville as their permanent home…leaving behind, not just memories but a chair and planter from the historic Pine Forest Inn…that I will cherish forever.

Sammy the Cardinal will now light up my Christmas, annually, in the form of a Christmas bubble light and a new orange star with verse from “What Child is This?” will become an integral part of the annual trimming of the tree. So many wonderful memories…to keep adding on…if we are open to new possibilities.

So on this Christmas Eve…I want to leave you with this card from me to you….my loyal and most appreciated readers!


Love, Becky and Merry Christmas! 

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


Look at the magnificent Christmas bunting cake Libby sent by Ben yesterday…I have never seen anything so beautiful…I halved it to send with Ben over to see Bekah and Ady ….Thank you Libby ….what a delicious delightful surprise.

The gift that will keep on giving…but quickly before it is all gobbled up! 🙂



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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1 Response to The Christmas Clock Just Keeps on Ticking…

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Thank you for your beautiful story…and yes thank to our Lord and Savior who was born on Christmas Day we have internal joy…that is different from happiness that is dependent on our current conditions…and with the joy of Christ in our heart and soul we can find new traditions…love you Becky…Merry Christmas to you.


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