Writing Help

Ahhh! Holiday Writing Help

Christmas Writing Tips. Using Wreaths on Gates. Beautiful
Wreaths placed on entry gate to your home extend the joy of Christmas to all passerby’s.

Christmas is Coming (and Thanksgiving too)!

You may be too late to submit a Christmas or Thanksgiving story to a magazine or to another print outlet BUT you can still share your Christmas joy (story) in other ways. Use some of these vehicles to share your work.

  1. WordPress: (https://wordpress.com/create/?currency=USD&utm_source=bing&utm_campaign=bing_wpcom_search_brand_desktop_us_en&utm_medium=paid_search&keyword=wordpress&creative=76828452655926&campaignid=282011443&adgroupid=1229254087061828&matchtype=e&device=c&network=o&tor maybe Goggle https://blogger.googleblog.com

  2. If you don’t have a blog, start one or ask to be a guest on another blogger’s site. Remember to make your post relevant a short story, holiday tips, maybe an article on writing during the holidays.

  3. Write a holiday newsletter or e-mail and send it to family, friends, coworkers or others in your network. Share a short story.

Write Away! Right Away! Write Now! Right Now!

Short Stories and Essays

Christmas This Year

Fall was waving goodbye. Crunchy leaves showcasing hues of orange and brown filled the woods and unattended lawns. Light snow began dusting the grounds covering all signs of green earth except for a few holdout evergreen trees and bushes. The sounds of wayward wildlife and whistling hunters ushered in the Christmas holiday, the season of giving as well as the time of making way for unrelenting changes.

*****

“The passing of time but not enough for you Bernard,” Mary Louise muttered as her youngest finished his breakfast.

“Ma, I’m ten years old now.”

“I know, but I still don’t want you to go.”

“It ain’t like I’m going far away. Whatcha scared of?”

“Mostly the older boys.”

“Why?”

“They won’t look after you the way your daddy and I always do.”

“Aaah Ma. You treat me like I’m still a baby.”

“That’s because you still are at least to me!”

“Billy is 13, and he won’t let nothin happen to me.”

“Billy is my oldest and you’re my baby.

“You mean, youngest.”

“Right.”

He tried to understand his Ma’s feelings. He was quiet for a while gazing out the kitchen windows. What he saw was the tall field grass signaling that the farming crop season was over. From where he stood, he could make out the silhouette of Billy and two other boys near Billy’s age. They were pulling a small wagon load of wood. They wanted to make sure they could feign off the cold. Oh, how he wished he could be right there with them. Weeks earlier he’d heard Billy and his friends discussing all they’d need for their trip. The list was short: firewood, matches, a few blankets, water, and sandwiches. From what he could tell, they wouldn’t be that far from home. How could he convince his Ma that she could almost see him while they hunted?

“Ma.”

“Huh?” She answered without turning away from the kitchen sink.

“I bet if Dad were here, the answer would be yes. It’s not just Billy and his friends, you know, Mr. Trainor, Lonnie’s Dad, will be out there too.”

“That’s nice. So Why do you think Mr. Trainor is going?”

“To make sure the boys are safe and to guide them through gun safety among other things I reckon.”

“What other things?”

“Well Ma for one thing when you get your prey, I mean turkey,” you have to dress the meat right away so that it doesn’t spoil.”

“Doesn’t spoil.” She corrected.

“Yeah. It doesn’t spoil. They have to pull the feathers off the dead bird right?”

“Yes. That’s only part of the process, Bernard.”

“What else is there to do? Eat it?” He asked in total innocence.

Mary Louise gave out a hearty laugh, shook her head and gave Bernard a peck on the forehead. No. There’s still more to the process but we can talk about that later.

*****

She’d high hopes that her husband would be home in time for Christmas. She’d not expressed that to the boys. She didn’t want to get their hopes up, so she kept the secret close to her heart. Afghanistan was light-years away, and at any moment his leave home could be revoked. She’d communicated with him via Skype, and could see the sliver of a cliff in the background surrounded by a large body of water, maybe a river or ocean, but he would not confirm or deny that his unit’s mission included being surrounded by a lot of water and mountains. He was the Command Chief of a small technology unit, but she felt that serving and the head of the technology unit was only a part of his operation. He would only give her bits and pieces of information perhaps to make her feel that he was safe. Common sense guided her thinking, however. How could anyone be safe when at any moment the outbreak of gunfire or a bomb could render a good soldier silent. This was his second tour of duty, and she’d experienced him guiding troops through the rough terrain of the cliffs and mountainous regions.

“Mom. Mom.”

“What baby?”

“The potatoes are boiling over.”

Turning around to clean up the messy spill, she could see the boys heading back towards the house. “They’re back, Bernard.” But the response was that of the back screen door slamming. “Whack!”

As she ran to the porch, she heard the boys laughing and shouting. “Look at our big fat turkey and a bonus rabbit.” One of them yelled. Mr. Trainor had made his way to the porch. “I wanted to get the boys back home ahead of the storm which comes before daybreak but I wanted to err on the side of caution.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Don’t worry Mary Louise. I showed them how to hunt. Now I’ll show them how to clean their kill.”

She was not as worried about picking the feathers and dressing both the bird and the rabbit as she was about her husband of 15 years showing up in time for Christmas. This year would be the second Christmas missed if he didn’t make this one. It wasn’t easy explaining his absence to the boys the first time, and she certainly didn’t want to repeat the heartbreak of his absence. To smooth things over, she’d planned a scrupulous dinner. They could play board games or strike up a football game with the neighbor boys afterward. All of this might, she hoped, work to keep their minds off their Dad’s absence. Perhaps Mr. & Mrs. Trainor and their boys would be their special guest. She knew that it was the spur of the moment invitation but would ask anyway.

With all that she had to keep up with, she didn’t want to forget Bernard’s needs. He’s growing up, and there’s no denying that but he has to understand that things happen when they’re supposed to and not before. There is an order to life that she and his dad wanted to honor. How do you communicate that to a child? They only know a small part of life’s puzzle. Somehow she had to convenience him that she in no way wanted to keep him a little boy, no mother wants that for her child. The act of waiting for a child is always in conflict with a parent’s timeline of moving to the next step. Or is it?

“Knock, knock. What time is dinner?” She heard a welcomed familiar voice from behind her say.

“I knew you wouldn’t miss another Christmas.”

Short Stories and Essays

Christmas Wreath Tradition

 

Hanging a wreath on the front door is a typical Christmas tradition, and we’ve enjoyed the tradition for many generations in my family. Growing up in a family of 11 siblings we were very creative and spendthrift on holiday decorations. So we would scour the wooded areas to find magnolia trees. The leaves are big and glossy and make a fabulous door wreath, table centerpiece or a mantelpiece arrangement. The Magnolia wreath was unique and adorned the front door.

The doors at my parents’ house were undoubtedly the prettiest in the small community where I grew up or so we thought. What a joy it was to use discarded wrapping paper tubes and wrap them in a shiny color of red, green or gold. They made such pretty tapered candles and taking the yellow construction paper to make the flame made them look all the more authentic. This piece of creativity we proudly reserved for the backdoor entrance.

After decorating our house, it was a must to visit my Grandmother several days before Christmas to get a good look at her wreath. It was always small, and she probably purchased it from the local five and dime store, but as children reveling in the Spirit of Christmas, we loved her decorations no matter the source or the size. After all, hot chocolate, cookies or an assortment of apples, oranges or some other fruit was ours just for the asking!

 

Short Stories and Essays

Red Christmas Box Mystery

Christmas Box Pixaby 2015
Christmas Box Pixaby 2015

Hearing the musical doorbell tones, Beth rushed downstairs just in time to see a late-model black SUV speeding out of her short but slippery driveway. Peeking through the side glass panel next to her front door, her eyes fell on a plain brown shopping bag leaning against a partially rusted metal rail. Slowly opening the door, she immediately felt light snow rushing towards her bare feet. Using the full reach of her slender body she managed to snare the bag and pull it inside the toasty room all without her feet ever touching the cold brick porch. This smooth gymnastic move proved that her early morning workout classes were well worth the 5 a.m. start time.

“Do not open ’til Christmas,” she read aloud. How silly is that, she thought. Who opens Christmas presents before Christmas? As she pushed the green and white tissue paper aside, she saw a small box encased in velvet wrapping and red trimmed ribbon. She gently took it out of the bag and placed it on the kitchen table,

With a knowing smile, Beth allowed herself to remember her last conversation Calvin. He made it crystal clear that they would not be able to talk until he finished his secret military mission. Could it be that he was back and they would be allowed to see each other on Christmas Day? Knowing Calvin as she did, she couldn’t help but consider that this could very well be his idea of a practical joke, however. For all she knew, the pretty red box with all its beauty just might only contain a small silver bell, or the box could be stuffed with bubble wrap, but surely it was a gift of significance. She would just have to wait until morning.just as the note read.

Just as she was heading back upstairs to resume her evening with Netflix, her cell phone jangled in her night robe pocket. So much for a quiet Christmas Eve.

“Hello. Hello. Hello. Is anybody there? ”

“Beth,” the voice on the other end said.

“Yes. Who is this?”

“I know you saw the truck. I know you picked up the package and I know you will wait until Christmas to open the red box, right?”

“Who is this?”

Just then the phone went dead.

“I know that voice, but I can’t place it.” she whispered.

Beth was not the type to frighten easily but with the arrival of the unexpected gift and now the crazy phone call she wondered if this Christmas was laden with problems. She just wanted a relaxed holiday. She just wanted to take time away from deadlines, traveling and managing projects. She had made plans to relax and enjoy a day of back-to-back Godfather type movies.

Going back to the kitchen Beth decided to call her next door neighbor, Dusty. He was retired, but he typically stayed in a ready police mode. After explaining her unusual evening events to Dusty she agreed with him that she should call the city police and perhaps stay with him at least til morning. But it’s Christmas Eve, she thought.

After drinking about 2 cups of Dusty’s strong black coffee, Beth gave in to her need to go to the bathroom and her phobia of using a single man’s bathroom. She feared that although Dusty was a good man, maybe he needed a little help with house cleaning from time-to-time. Her fear subsided the minute she made her way down the hallway.  Everything was cleaner than she had hoped for but just as she was about to open the bathroom door, she couldn’t help but notice a roll of red Christmas wrapping paper next to a small pile of red and gold ribbon. All of it, just like the gift that she pulled out the package that had been delivered to her front door earlier that day.

Just as she was about to turn around and run out of the house, she heard blaring sirens outside. “Dusty, she yelled. The cops will be looking for me. Meet me outside in the front,” she said just as she dashed out the rear kitchen door.”

“Ma’am don’t move.” She heard a cop yell. “Put your hands in the air.”

“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, she pleaded.”