Month: December 2015

A Christmas Tale

“I wish I had a bicycle.”

“I wish I had a tricycle.”

I was six–my sister five. We sat on the squeaky blue porch swing that my dad attached to the old rusty swing-set in our front yard and made wishes. A friend at school had told us that if we wished hard enough, out loud, our wish would come true. We believed her.

“I wish I had a bicycle, I wish I had a bicycle,” went my sing-song voice, again and again, echoed by my sister’s, “I wish I had a tricycle, I wish I had a tricycle.”

The sun was shining but the weather had turned crisp. It would not be long before old man winter sought us out and put an end to our swinging days. I could see my dad and the boys cutting up dead tree trunks in the distance. The logs they stacked into neat piles would be used to feed our smoky fireplace during the long, cold winter. Many of the rooms in our drafty, old house were missing radiators, so we counted on the kitchen fireplace for heat.

On this particular day, we had been sent outside to play–probably to give my mother time to complete her chores.

‘I wish I had a bicycle.’
How I wanted a bicycle! I didn’t care what color it was but it must have a banana seat, a basket, a horn to alert wary pedestrians to get out of the way, and colorful streamers flowing from the handlebars. I imagined myself, hair down my back and nose to the wind, sniffing out adventures, as I pedaled furiously through our neighborhood.

“I wish I had a tricycle.” My sister had not yet learned to ride a bike but held similar dreams of her own.

We continued to swing back and forth, repeating our wishes for hours until our throats were dry and our heads ached. No one could hear us except the wind and the squirrels gathering nuts in the trees. On and on it went, until finally my mother called us in to dinner.

I don’t remember the remaining days, weeks and months leading up to Christmas. What I do recall is in our family of fifteen, there was little money for toys. Any we had were hand-me-downs or worn out and broken. It seemed an impossible dream that we, the youngest of the bunch, could receive our Christmas wish.

Missing present
Christmas morning dawned clear and bright. Snow had fallen softly in the night and lay upon our front yard like a white, glistening blanket. My sister and I poked among the presents, but none of them were even close to the size of a bicycle or tricycle. We didn’t count on our wishes coming true.

In the flurry of torn wrapping paper that followed, I forgot about our wishes. I didn’t even notice that my sister hadn’t received a gift until every present under the tree had been opened. I knew Santa had a lot of houses to get to, but I couldn’t believe he had forgotten my sister on Christmas!

My dad noticed the missing present, too. “You haven’t gotten one gift? Do you think maybe you were bad this year?”

“No,” my sister said, her eyes wide with unshed tears.

“Wait a minute. I think maybe Santa did leave you something. It was just too big to get down the chimney.”

My father led us all down the stairs and into the cellar. We advanced into the furnace room, and there it was, a shiny, new blue tricycle with a horn.

Her wish had come true!

I don’t remember being sad for myself, as I had received a set of dolls and a dollhouse. And I was happy to see my little sis with such a beautiful tricycle.

It was only later, after all the decorations had been packed away in the attic and we had moved on to spring and then summer, that I was reminded of our Christmas wishes. An older sister was gifted with a brand new adult bike by a favorite uncle. And I? Well…I inherited her old, purple bike–banana seat, basket, horn, streamers, and all.

Merry Christmas! May you ask for and receive your dearest wishes.

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Light Up Your Inner Muse: Join a Writer’s Group

I’ve joined many groups over the years. Some have been paid experiences, some volunteer. Some I joined to chase after boys I liked; others were to get away from boys I did not. Many I joined because a teacher, parent or employer insisted I needed the educational experience. And then there are those few, far and in between that I joined…well, just for me.

Theatre days
One of those came when I majored in theatre in college. Acting was my dream, and I was determined to join the theatre crowd with all the passion in my young heart. And I did.

I once acted in a play that was entirely improvised every night for a new crowd of ticket holders. I stood in the wings, quaking with fear, and sang songs to calm myself. That’s how I discovered and accepted a profound truth–I was much more comfortable behind a stage than on it. I achieved more personal satisfaction (and a better grade) after I wrote a play about a young man who discovered he had AIDS. I should have known then that writing was the path for me.

But I didn’t.

It would take many years and a few unsatisfying job experiences before I would have the courage to admit to myself and those around me that I held a deep, inner desire to express myself in writing. And not just any writing–romance novels, where relationships between a hero and heroine take center stage, and I, the author, can stay hidden within the pages.

Match meet heaven
In April, I had another one of those life-altering moments. I joined a writer’s group and attended their monthly meetings. I didn’t expect much from the experience–perhaps my theatre days had hardened me to other artists. But from the moment I walked through the door of my first meeting, the unexpected happened. I felt a tingling, and the tingling spread. As I talked to writers at different stages in their careers, creative sparks appeared, first here and then there. This one is self-published and has advice on cover artists and promotion. That one is a former English teacher with a talent for developing other writers and willing to share her vast knowledge. This one dreams of plots at night and has advice for my next scene. That one is releasing her tenth book with her fifth publisher and warns me of who to avoid. Whatever stage I’m in, whatever questions I have, there is someone in the group with the knowledge I need to improve my writing and pursue my dream. They welcome me with open arms, bolster my inner critic and recharge my creative juices.

Like that final piece in the puzzle, I fit perfectly.

No naughty girls
Saturday was the annual holiday party at Punderson Manor. We dined, exchanged gifts, passed out awards and honors, and generously shared advice and words of encouragement with one another. No cutthroat competitors and bah humbuggers in this audience. In the true spirit of Christmas, I am given a generous dose of literary cheer to put in my writer’s stocking. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. Enough to last well into the new year–or at least until that next rejection.

My new writer friends spreading the holiday writing cheer.

My new writer friends spreading the holiday literary cheer.

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