Christmas in a Bottle? Keeping the Spirit of Christmas All Year Long


As my eyelids became heavy, visions of sugar plum fairies danced in my head. Within minutes I was lulled into dreamland, and into magical thoughts of Christmas.

What if you could collect all the good things about Christmas and capture them in a bottle?

Sort of like a ship in a bottle, or seashells and sand in a bottle…

But this bottle would capture the night baby Jesus was born, the smell of pine trees, Christmas carols, the way snow feels when it touches your face, kittens’ whiskers, Christmas lights…the feeling of Christmas in your heart.

And whenever you’re having a bad day, you could just open the bottle and sprinkle Kindness, Love, and Hope on yourself, or on all the Bob Cratchit’s of the world.

I thought to myself as I awoke from slumber, ‘Christmas in a Bottle’ is just a dream.

We need to remember to be kind, helpful and loving to others on a daily basis, especially to those we meet on the street.

It doesn’t take much effort or money to open a door, buy a coffee, start a conversation, give a smile or a hug to those you know, or even a perfect stranger.

So this Christmas, I’m challenging you to pay it forward every day.

Once you get in the routine, you’ll do it without thinking.

Merry Christmas!

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Romans 2:10

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.”

~ Eric Hoffer

“Keep your Christmas-heart open all the year round.”

~J. L. W. Brooks

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

~ Roy L. Smith

Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award: First Place – Poetry, First Place – Fine Art/Photography, and Honorable Mention – Coffee Table Books. Mondays in October is Sheree’s love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist


Memories of Winters Past

I awoke this morning to the grandeur of a new fallen snow.  Living on three acres there’s plenty of wildlife to visually stimulate me on this fine morning.

The mockingbirds, tufted titmouses, cardinals and blue jays scamper about, foraging for the thistle I sprinkled on the frozen deck rails this morning.

Memories of past winters live in my mind…

The winter of 1999 found my husband and in our newly constructed home.  It would also be the last winter for our dog, Mitch.  Plagued with back problems, our Belgian Sheepdog enjoyed a pain-free day with his husky-mix sister, trekking along the two paths that connect the clearing to the back fields shaped like Micky Mouse ears.  Trees laden with crimson berries, slightly frozen, dripping ice sculptures created a fairy tale forest.

Or the winter we had so much snow, hubby would no sooner clear off a portion of the driveway with the box blade on the mower, to spin around and find it snow-covered  – again.

One of the happiest memories of winter included our two pooches – Maggie, an overachieving Chessie and Miss Sasha (a mouthy little husky- shepherd mix that could have passed for a Sheltie.)

Hubby trudged inside, boots covered with snow, nose as red as Rudolph’s and asked “Where’s the red food coloring?”

“In the cabinet by the sink, honey.  What do you need that for?”

“You’ll see.”

Preoccupied with stacking the holiday dishes, I heard a knock on the dining room window.

Much to my surprise and delight, a fire hydrant ice sculpture stood in the snow.  Red like a big snow cone, it made the corners of my mouth turn up and put a gleam in my eye.

The dogs were having so much fun, eating the snow and playing, I couldn’t help but laugh.  And hubby was the big cheese, the supervisor, the hot potato, the hero of the day who made me chuckle.

DSC_0530 Russell Maggie fire hydrant copyr

If my memory serves me correctly, it was also the winter I sported a bright orange and aqua cast (in Miami Dolphin colors) on my left leg – the result of falling in a depression our friend’s dog made on their front lawn.  The tendons in the top of my foot went snap, crackle, pop, followed by a burning sensation – a warning something was wrong.  Six hours in the ER and a dose of dilaudid was just what I needed to ease the pain.

So if I couldn’t be running around with my crazy canines and hubby frolicking in the winter wonderland, the view from the window was the next best thing.

Winters have come and gone, and I cherish these as some of the most memorable.

I penned a poem last year while I was on a walk with our adopted child (our shoe-collecting mini Australian Shepherd).

 I am reposting.  Hope you enjoy the poem and the pictures.


The cold kiss of winter brushes my rosy cheeks

and snowflakes drop like confetti.

Five gaggles of graylag geese soar overhead

north to south

in the hazy cotton sky.

I stand reticent,



to their cackling,

as if I were multilingual.

They settle in the field nearby,


as an experienced aviator

sideslipping a glider in for a landing.

(Copyright Sheree Nielsen)

Just published in Missouri Life – “The Horse Knows the Way” by Sheree K. Nielsen

Check out my article on page 51 of Missouri Life Outdoors for the Holidays issue entitled “The Horse Knows the Way” on horse-drawn sleigh rides complete with photo.  Also on page 46 you will find another photo of Rachel, a Percheron Draft Horse.

051 ML1211 The Horse Knows the Way MO Life