The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 7:59 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

“The Fireplace”

By N. R. Tucker

The fire is picture perfect.

Log placement an exact science.

The flames maintain a constant height.

The heat produced never wavers.

Yes, the fire is picture perfect,

But I miss the flames of old.

When fires required consistent tending

And the firewood warmed you twice.

Today there are no messy logs,

Just flip a switch and enjoy.

No cleaning of the hearth required.

No smoke inside the house.

Yes, the fire is picture perfect,

But I miss the flames of old.

When fires required consistent tending

And the firewood warmed you twice.

“Unwrapping Memories”

By Julie Terry Cartner

With Christmas carols playing on the stereo, I sit on the floor surrounded by plastic tubs. In recent years, we have upgraded from a random assortment of cardboard boxes, in various stages of disrepair, to actual, store-bought tubs. No more need for scissors every December and duct tape every January. But inside the boxes is a different story. No upgrades wanted or needed. Lifting the lid of the box closest to me, I reach in with the anticipation of a child waiting for Santa and pull out a newspaper wrapped decoration. As I carefully unwrap the object, it turns out to be a tired Santa Claus sitting on the couch while his wife rubs his feet. Great way to start – one of my favorites! My husband gives me a Christmas decoration each year. I never know what I’ll get – pretty, funny, downright tacky; I love them all. It’s just a part of how our family celebrates Christmas. Placing it on the buffet – because that’s where all of the Santas go, I reach in and pull out another; this time a snow globe. On the windowsill, it goes. Nutcracker – on the shelf over the television, Nativity scene – on the large bookshelf. And so the morning continues. As I pull out each decoration, I pull out a memory. Christmas crafts that the children lovingly made and proudly presented to us on Christmas morning, the angel that a teacher gave me when I was moving, the sock snowmen that one of my husband’s students gave him, a Santa that my students gave me, presents from church friends. Each decoration, a memory remembered.

The same with the tree decorations, each ornament has a story. I’ve never had a “perfect” tree. I’ve never had matching ornaments and ribbon and the perfect angel on top. I admire them for others, but for me, each ornament comes from some piece of our family’s history. Some ornaments were passed down from my family, now fragile from age, but deserving a spot on the tree. Many were made by the children in various elementary classes. Some were gifts from friends. Some earmark special occasions such as baby’s first Christmas, our first Christmas as a married couple, the anniversaries that end in a five or a zero, and of course, the Christmas pickle! But the piece de resistance is the angel. One of the children made it out of paper plates sometime in the elementary years, but my son has added the faces of all of the children and their significant others to it. To anyone else, this might appear less than beautiful, but in my heart, I hear the laughter of our family as that angel has evolved each year. Christmas Joy at its finest.

Finally, I get to the last box, definitely the most special. In it are the pieces of a winter scene, complete with a Santa, elves, a sleigh, and the eight reindeer sprinkled with glitter plus Rudolph. There’s a girl skating on a mirror pond, boys sledding and skiing, cedar trees complete with snow and a house, The pieces belonged to my Grandmother Jessie, picked up from the local 5 and 10, as she could afford them. Some are plastic, some are metal and some are ceramic. I’m sure she never spent more than a few cents on each one, but that is not where the value lies. Even though some of the pieces are probably close to one hundred years old now, what matters to me is the thought that the pieces that I lovingly place on my “snow” covered table each year, are the same pieces that were once held by my mother’s hands and my grandmother’s hands before her. Tradition. Family. Love. The real blessings of Christmas.

“Life’s Greatest Ornaments”

By Stephanie Dean

As I pulled the tiny pair of crocheted skates from the box, a smile slowly spread across my face. Speedy. Every Christmas, she gave these handmade ornaments as gifts to me and the other operating room nurses.

Speedy, otherwise known as Miss Tucker, worked in the operating room well beyond the retirement age of 65. She had been an OR nurse there in that same hospital for over 40 years. Speedy had earned the nickname because of how fast her two legs shuffled as she ran to fetch whatever instrument or supply Dr. Scott requested.

“I’m just so sorry, Doctor, we are fresh out of that size catgut suture,” she said.

“Damn it, Speedy” he replied.

The surgeons loved her. Speedy treated them with more reverence than the younger nurses did as she always kicked into high gear for the least of their requests.

Of course, she was the only nurse who got away with wearing her own handmade, printed bonnet to cover her hair instead of those blue stretchy ones we had to wear. Heck, she was around before companies even made hair covers for nurses.

Decorating my Christmas tree is like pushing a life’s instant replay button.  Every ornament promises a sweet memory, and each recollection brings gratitude for the moment. Whether it is the Victorian high heeled boot off my grandmother’s tree, my mother’s sequined rocking horse or the collection of “Peanuts” ornaments my former neighbor gave my young son over the years, all the ornaments that hang on the tree are favorite memories and not to be forgotten.

Speedy would be delighted to know I remembered her today, and she brought a smile to my face. She’s long passed on, but my memory of her has not. The tiny crocheted ornaments on my tree have preserved her precious life, and she lives on in my memoirs. So much recollection from such a tiny representative, an ornament. A happy memory.

So, what if your ornament is one of the great memories that adorns someone else’s tree, turns a frown into a smile, and replaces their darkness with light?  If only for a moment. Think about that.