Tips for Holiday Peace

My friend Perry says blogs are out of fashion.  I wish I’d scribbled down his exact quote…it was something like “they’re so 2005.”  As I look out over the ever-changing digital landscape, I can see that Perry could be right.

But since I’m “so 1949” I’m ahead of my time and I will write on in this virtual space.

Last Thursday, I gave a Marjorie Standish talk for the Pejepscot Historical Society.  Executive Director Larissa Vigue Picard and Museum Services Manager Catherine Cyr crafted a lively History Happy Hour at The Brunswick Inn.  Guests were invited to cook and bring a recipe from one of Marjorie Standish’s cookbooks.  Brunswick celebrity food personalities judged the entries and then everyone had a chance to try such things as “Walnut Strips,” “Hello Dolly Squares,” “Famous Webster Squash Pie,” “Porcupine Meatballs,” “Shrimp Wiggle,” and “Mock Lobster Sandwiches.”

There were 25 entries in all!

The Brunswick Inn is a beautiful venue and everything was perfect.  The joint was jumping and jam-packed!  Marjorie would have loved it, affable gal that she was (according to Hope Weston, an acquaintance from the Kennebec Valley Garden Club, who I interviewed in 2016).

I provided a brief biography of myself, explaining my research and writing to date.  I gracefully referred to my corporate job as “that type of work.”

I shared Marjorie’s general biography and then shared interesting quotes from her columns.  As her writing style developed over the period of 1948 to 1973, she revealed interesting aspects of her personality.  Like her love of her hometown, Brunswick.  And her passion for the bread making tradition with an annual January column.  And of course, her tolerance for husband George’s Sunday afternoon obsession with the New York Giants.

“It seems a year ago I caused quite a rustle, especially among the men folks in Maine, that I dared to mention I knew how they would be spending New Year’s Day.  I guess we are not supposed to talk about it, for have you heard the lowered voices of Maine women discussing ‘those football games.’?  I tell you, women natives of Maine are restless.”

We’ll come back to feminine football restlessness in the future because I tell you, this particular Maine woman is also restless.

“That type of work” has been busy, stressful and distracting lately.  There is so much work, it is hard to focus and hard to know what to do first.  It’s not how I was hoping to head into the holidays.  Sometimes I take a break in my workday, stand at the kitchen island, and look out over the river.  It’s visible now that all the leaves are gone.

In her November 29, 1964 column titled “Marjorie Has Tips For Holiday Peace,” Standish described a similar experience.  After sharing a poem with her readers, she wrote “I just taped this favorite Christmas poem on the window above my sink.  I read it over every time I am there and I look across our little valley and think about you folks.  That is why I used it this year in my column, so that you might share it, too.  Several years ago, a friend sent it to me, when she knew I had been in a particular rush…ever since, the poem has helped.”

It’s a sweet poem and it made me tearful when I read it aloud at the end of my talk.  Why?  Because it’s peaceful and pleasant living in the past of Marjorie Standish’s life.  There’s bread to knead, friends to have lunch with, and Butterscotch Clusters to make, because “right now, I expect you are on the church and club Christmas Fair circuit.  Knowing that you are being called upon for sweets for the candy table, I decided to do some candy making myself.”


Here is the poem Marjorie shared, written by Grace Noll Crowell.  This popular poem once appeared in December 1933 Good Housekeeping.  Enjoy it, long for a slower life, and Godspeed to you in finding your way out of “that kind of work.”

I shall attend to my little errands of love

Early this year

So that the brief days before Christmas may be

Unhampered and clear

Of the fever of hurry.  The breathless rushing that I have known in the past

Shall not possess me.

I shall be calm in my soul and ready at last

For Christmas; “The Mass of the Christ.”  I shall kneel

And call out His name;

I shall take time to watch the beautiful light

Of a candle’s flame;  

I shall have leisure – I shall go out alone

From my roof and my door;

I shall not miss the silver silence of stars as I have before;

And, oh, perhaps – If I stand there very still,

And very long–

I shall hear what the clamor of living has kept from me;

The angel’s song.

A special thank you to my friend and fellow writer, Karen Schneider, for visiting me this week for an impromptu ladies lunch.  I enjoyed our hour of “leisure.”

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