What is your favorite holiday memory? For some, it is a special time in their life, such as a young married couple’s first Christmas together, or a child’s first Hanukkah. For others, it is a bittersweet moment, such as when a son or daughter is far away serving their country, and can only share the holiday by letter or e-mail. Memories from childhood teem with sights, sounds, and smells that linger far into our golden years.
One of my many special memories happened when I was about seven or eight years old. We had gone to my paternal grandfather’s on Christmas Eve, as was our tradition. Santa, as was his tradition, had come while we were gone. After we had opened the gifts the jolly old elf had left us, and the ones we had made or bought for each other, my father told us to sit tight, and went upstairs. Carrying a huge box wrapped in orange butcher paper, he struggled down the steps and into the living room.
He set it in front of my mother. She carefully unwrapped it. It was one of those new Motorola stereophonic record players! It played 78-, 33-1/3-, and 45-speed records, and had speakers you could put across the room! We were all so excited! My mother loved music, and although she knew it was more than they could afford and said so, she was happy with the gift. My father, who had used an unexpected holiday bonus to pay for it, was so pleased with himself for picking such a great present that he looked like the Cheshire cat! I remember sitting on the floor by the twinkling Christmas tree, and listening to records that night before we went to bed.
My mother, my sisters, and I played many records on that stereo over the next decade. When I was eighteen, my mother died of cancer. For the next few weeks, my father, who had seldom used it, repeatedly played “Um bel di” from the opera, Madame Butterfly. He had never been a fan of opera. Why that particular plaintive melody? He never explained, but it seemed to give him comfort. His gift to us that long-ago Christmas, which had given us hours of pleasure and a wonderful holiday memory, had traveled full circle, and become a gift that helped him to work through his loss.
Using your own holiday memories, write a poem, short story or essay or just jot it down in your idea book for later inspiration. This time of year is full of stories!
In my initial post of 10/21, I gave readers the beginning of one of my short stories, Everyone She Loved, and asked readers to contact me and I would send them the ending. From the names of those who requested the story, I would pull one and send them the New River Press anthology, American Fiction Volume 13 -The Best Unpublished Short Stories by New and Emerging Writers which contains my story, "Blind Horse". The winner of the anthology is (drum roll) Steve Patton! Happy Thanksgiving, Steve! Your book will be on the way this week. Thank you to all who participated. Hope you enjoyed the story. If anyone else would like to read the ending, just put your contact info here on the contact page and I will send it to you.
It reached 59 degrees today after a brutally cold, snowy two weeks here (and much of the country-so sorry, Buffalo, we're thinking of you). What a respite it was, encouraging the beekeeper and I to do some necessary clean-up and rearranging for the company we will have on Thanksgiving weekend. Still, I don't want too many of these days now that we are headed toward December. My body is ready to hibernate. I slow down, become introspective, write longer and more often. I look at winter as a time of going within, rest and renewal.
How do you feel about winter? Are you a grizzly, ready to den? Or are you a polar bear, in your element in the snow and cold? How does winter affect your writing? Leave me a comment and let me know. In the meanwhile, here's a prompt for you: using a person who lives in a cold city like, say, Chicago, and a person who lives in Miami or Key Largo, write two persona poems or a short short story on how they react to the winter season.
It is my desire to be cremated. No, it's not the greenest form of burial. Being buried naturally on our own land is possible and would be preferable, but a bureaucratic headache. We have to register as a cemetery, etc.. It's been a source of discussion between my daughter and me for years. That is, until she came across something on the Internet that swung her my way. My diamond-loving daughter found out she could turn me into a diamond when I pass on!
I won't reveal the company - you can Google it yourself - but yes, for a fee they can turn you or me or my pet into a jewel to be passed down through the generations. What do you think? Is that creepy, intriguing, haunting, comforting?
My writer instincts immediately kicked in. The moment she told me, I thought, "What a great idea for a story or poem!"
So here is a prompt for anyone looking for some inspiration today. It lends itself to fantasy well, but could fit in other genres as well as in poetry. I have a couple of ideas, but here's a quick haiku:
Winter sun sparkles
through jewel hung in window.
You, with me always.
If you are willing, you are welcome to share your story or poem in the comments. Or if you have a short comment on being turned into a jewel. But please short works only. If you would like to share a longer story, give us a link. Thanks, and write, write, write!!