Monday, December 19, 2016

The Last Real Christmas


              I was too old, I suppose ‑‑ especially by today's standards. Still, I believed. I ignored the other kids' claims about Santa Claus. I thought putting up the Christmas tree was a pleasure, not a chore. When I did have chores, I sang Christmas carols to pass the time. I refused to think of the holidays as anything less than magical.
On Christmas Eve, a sprinkling of snow dusted everything, proving me right. Snow for Christmas! Not so much that Grandma couldn't come over for Christmas dinner tomorrow ‑‑ just enough. Everything sparkled when the streetlights came on. Just before I went to bed, a flock of birds flew away north to give Santa one last report on good boys and girls.
That Christmas Eve, I wore my watch to bed, eager for it to read six o'clock, the earliest time we were allowed to get up. Long after my little sister fell asleep, I lay awake, dreaming. For a while, I knelt in my bed and looked out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of reindeer in the sky. Then when it seemed it must be nearly morning, I pulled up my pajama sleeve and looked at my watch in the glow from the streetlights.
Nine o'clock!
It would be hours and hours till morning!
The watch was still ticking, so I decided it must be running slow. I set it ahead fifteen minutes to compensate, then tried to sleep again.
The next time I checked, it was only nine‑thirty! Obviously, something was seriously wrong with that watch. Again I set it ahead a bit to make up for its slowness.
I don't know how many times I reset my watch that night. Now and then, between my attempts to control time and make Christmas come faster, I nodded off. Once I woke to the sound of what I was sure had been prancing hooves. Another time, as I drifted out of sleep, I thought I caught a whiff of pipe smoke.
Finally, my watch read six o'clock. I slipped out of bed and into my robe and crept out to the living room to turn on the Christmas tree. The mounds of colorful packages, the sparkle of the tree, the quiet magic of the morning made the torture of waiting seem worthwhile.
My parents found me snuggled on the couch, just taking it all in. Of course, they shooed me back to bed since it was only three o'clock in the morning!
It didn't matter. I slept well till my sister pounced on my bed and shook me awake. She was right to be excited, I thought: something beautiful awaited her.
            I think that was the last of the real Christmases:  the Christmases where the tree was like something out of a fairy tale and the wrapping paper covered happiness and hints of magic were everywhere. Eventually, I could no longer deny the truths and practicalities of the holidays.
Still ‑‑ I love a Christmas tree, the secrets of packages, the gathering of family. There's still a bit of magic in every Christmas.
And I don't have to turn back the clock to capture it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

You can disagree with me...














...but can't you do so thoughtfully and respectfully? 

I'm disturbed by the poorly reasoned and hateful way people "discuss" issues these days. I wrote about this problem last year in my (then) local newspaper, and I'm still concerned about the issue. So I'm re-sharing my opinion piece here. (Go to Page 7.) What do you think? Can we disagree civilly?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How Teachers Can Discourage Materialism



Materialism may seem like a huge problem that's beyond your control. You can't change our whole society! But you can take action in your classroom to discourage materialism. For suggestions, read my post on the JClub Blog.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Talking About Teens and Their Challenges



I was interviewed on An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media. The wonderful host, Elizabeth Reardon, and I talked about my book Tackling Tough Topics with Faith and Fiction (a faith-based resource for caring adults who want to encourage young teens to live their faith when facing moral challenges) as well as a variety of other subjects! You can listen to the podcast of the interview here. Tune into An Engaging Faith at 4:00 EST weekdays here. And check out the other great programs on Breadbox Media here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Saints Said It!

 

Saint John Bosco said: The music of the young should be listened to with the heart and not with the ears.

For more wisdom from the saints, check out my Facebook page, Saints Said It!

Friday, July 1, 2016

More writing wisdom!

A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it. Mark Twain

We write by the light of every story we have ever read. Richard Peck

A writer's job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories John Irving

I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity. Edgar Allan Poe

My books are water; those of great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water.  Mark Twain

Saturday, June 25, 2016

More writing wisdom!

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up whenever you felt like it.         J.D. Salinger

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.                    Ray Bradbury

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Mark Twain

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you. Zora Neale Hurston

Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for. Mark Twain