The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 8:43 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

“Another Year”

By N. R. Tucker

Another year has passed me by.

Did I do all I could do?

Did I make the world a better place?

Or did I let my potential mildew?

Were my words helpful and caring?

Did my actions express honor?

Did I help without seeking glory?

Or was my integrity a goner?

Another year has passed me by,

But I won’t hide in the attic.

I’ll face the next with higher purpose,

Helping to create a world fantastic.

“Wrapping Up Memories”

By Julie Terry Cartner

After the weeks of preparing for Christmas, and then the joy and fun of Christmas Day and all the trappings of the holiday, I sit, solitarily, on the living room floor, Christmas music playing on the stereo for the last time this season. Surrounded by the ornaments I so carefully removed from the tree and decorations that covered every possible surface, I take each one and return it to its bubble-wrapped cocoon.

One by one, as I place them in boxes, I reflect. All of the children, now grown up, have a separate pile of ornaments, bought for them or made by them. I smile as I think of the young men and women as they came home in their adult bodies, and yet, their childlike anticipation of Christmas. Things have changed over the years. They’re now more excited about being together and the gifts that they have bought for each other than they are in what they’re going to get from “Santa.” It is heartwarming to see the loving relationships that have developed between my grown-up children. I sat back on Christmas day and watched while they opened each other’s presents and enjoyed the pleasure I saw on faces when their carefully purchased gifts were exclaimed over. I look at my children, and I am pleased by the love I see. Sadly for me, they are no longer children, but I like the adults they have become.

But I wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t also enjoy the aspects of the child that I still see in each one, for the insistence that things don’t change too much. Even though I now wrap the “Santa” presents, they still want them to be placed in separate piles with their personal stockings on top. And the stockings must contain jars of peanut butter, maraschino cherries and pickles or olives. There must be at least one book and some socks. Tradition cannot be ignored.

Then, of course, there is the Christmas pickle which must be hidden in the tree somewhere, and their dad is the one who must hide it. The one who finds the pickle gets the extra gift, also wrapped and under the tree. That competition is fierce still.

I carefully put the story of “Night Before Christmas,” copyright 1958, costing twenty-nine cents on the top of the box. The red felt on Santa’s hat is worn thin, and pages have creases and a few stains, probably from chocolate chip cookies or hot chocolate; nevertheless, that is the only acceptable version to read.  With a smiling sigh, I remember my dad reading that book to me, as my husband now reads it to our children, even grown as they are.

So as I wrap each ornament and decoration and place each back in its respective home for the next eleven months, I also pack the memories of this Christmas, to join with the memories of every Christmas of my life. I like to think that all of these memories reside in the box, resting up until next year when I can pull them out once again, one at a time, and feel the warmth of love that comes from family, friends, and faith, love that exists all year but seems especially strong at Christmas.

“A Land Beyond the Sea” Part II

By Linda Barnette

After 3 months on the ocean, we finally docked in a place called Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and found a room in a boarding house. Several of the other passengers also stayed there.  Both my dad and my grandfather had to find work so we could save enough money for 4 horses and a wagon for our journey.  We had heard there were mountains like the ones back home in Scotland, so that was where we wanted to go.  My grandfather had been a woodworker in our old country and was very lucky to find work as a furniture maker. Because he missed much of the music from home, he experimented with various kinds of musical instruments trying to figure out something that sounded like his beloved bagpipes.  Eventually, he built what he called a “dulcimer,” a name that meant beautiful music.  His dulcimer was shaped a lot like a fiddle but had only 3 strings and was placed on his lap to be played.

Finally, they saved enough money to buy a Conestoga wagon and a team of 4 horses to pull the wagon, so we all set out on another long trek down what people called the Great Wagon Road. This road began right outside of Philadelphia and seemed endless to me. The “road” was a fairly wide trail that the Indians had used for travel.  It was not very big and was often crowded with lots of other wagons.  We slept in the wagon at night, and every evening before bedtime, my mother and grandmother cooked supper in their iron pot over an open fire.  The men caught rabbits and possums, sometimes a fish if we were close to a river, and they cleaned them and cooked them with various kinds of root vegetables. We had made sure to bring plenty of carrots, potatoes, and turnips with us for our trip.  There wasn’t a lot of food and certainly almost no variety while we traveled.  I thought often of the bread and cakes and cookies they used to bake back in Scotland.

Not only did I stay hungry, but the travel was very difficult at times.  When it rained, the road became a sea of mud and was very hard for the horses.  Luckily, our horses were not injured at any point down the trail. I didn’t know the names of the places we went through then but have since learned most of them. Crossing rivers such as the Potomac and the Susquehanna was very tricky business.  There were sometimes places where the water was low, and that’s where we crossed.  I thought it was very scary, and the horses didn’t like it either! At other spots, we were able to cross rivers on these large wooden boats called ferries.  That was much easier for everyone!  Otherwise, travel was boring and repetitious except for the music we made and the songs we sang after supper.  They were mostly ballads from home. Although I liked most all the songs, my favorites were “Barbara Allen,”  “Lord Randall,” and “The Last Rose of Summer.” I loved them all though because they reminded me of my homeland of mountains and mists, stories, and friends and relatives left behind.