The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:09 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

“New Year’s Resolutions”

By Linda Barnette

Since it’s almost time to make our New Year’s resolutions for 2019, I decided to do a little research on the subject in order to put this custom into some sort of historical perspective.

Apparently about 4,000 years ago the Babylonians were the first to make resolutions, or promises, as they were called then. Their year began when it was time to plant their crops. At that time each year, they held a big celebration and pledged their loyalty to the king. They also made promises to their gods to pay their debts. If they kept these promises, their pagan gods would be good to them.

In addition, when Julius Caesar was the emperor of Rome, he changed the calendar and made Jan. 1 the beginning of the new year. January was named for Janus, the two-faced Roman god. Romans believed that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and forward to the future. Therefore, they offered sacrifices and made promises to him of good behavior in the coming year.

For early Christians, the first day of the year became the traditional time for thinking about past mistakes and resolving to do better in the future. In 1840 the English preacher, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, created what he called a Covenant Renewal Service, held on New Year’s Day. These became known as watch-night services and included Scripture, hymns, and prayers, and were meant to be the time to renew covenant promises. Other churches did this as well, and some still do.

Today there seems to be no religious connection to our resolutions. Most of them center around losing weight or getting rid of other bad habits. I personally never make them, but if you do, I hope you will be able to keep them.  Happy New Year!!

“There Is Room at the Inn”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Life has a funny way of sending messages. Some are subtle, some not so much. We had a beautiful Christmas day, full of family, fun, and friends, and especially, overflowing with love. Christmas afternoon, after a long walk, my husband went to take a shower and quickly realized we had no hot water. Not a crisis, but definitely a glitch, or so we thought. The problem was, we have a propane water heater, and apparently, nobody keeps them in stock. Endless phone calls later, we came to find out there were only two within driving range with the prices ranging from $1,400 – $1,600. Now if we weren’t in a rush and could wait for one to be ordered, we would have a much more reasonable price.

The second problem was also substantial. Our daughter was getting married on the 30th of December, and we were expecting a houseful of guests who were coming in from out of state. At one point we expected to have fifteen people sleeping in our house. We have the space and furniture, but no hot water would be a problem. We needed a solution, and fast!

There was a possibility the water heater itself was okay, and just the engine was acting up – or, more accurately, not acting at all – so my husband phoned around and found a small engine repair shop in Lexington. He talked to a very nice couple who own the shop and determined that if we could get the engine to him, the proprietor would see what he could do. I jumped in the car and, after driving the miles, found the store and handed over the engine. Within twenty minutes, he had the engine taken apart, repaired and put back together. All the while, his wife and I discussed the upcoming wedding, families, and Christmas. When I asked how much, he told me twenty, which I happily handed over. Then he looked at me and said, I can’t charge that much; let me give you some change. Ten dollars later, I was on my way back home, and within an hour I was home, the engine returned to the water heater and hot water was in our very near future.

I couldn’t help thinking of the Christmas story: I had to leave my home and go miles to find someone who could help us. He didn’t have a water heater, but he had a solution. The couple nicely helped me out, treated me with kindness and respect, charged only what was reasonable, then sent me on my way. I thought of one cold winter night when a couple traveled far to Bethlehem only to find there was no room at the inn. A kindly innkeeper had no room but gave the couple an alternative that worked out for them, and then a baby was born. My story is not close to the same, and most certainly not of a worldwide impact, but I believe that God puts many innkeepers in our path to help us remember there is much more goodness in our world than we sometimes realize. There are kindly innkeepers who are willing to help us and compassionate wives who will try to make us feel loved. That shop didn’t have to be open the day after Christmas, but it was. The owners didn’t have to be kind and compassionate, but they were. They could have charged me anything, but what they charged was more than reasonable. It is always heartwarming to be given reminders that God is good, and most people are also.

I will carry this story with me and hope you will also. There is room at the inn, and there are friendly people to help you on your path.  I wish each of you a kind and compassionate New Year!

“Camera Shy”

By N. R. Tucker

As a mother, I picked the battles that matter to me. My eldest hated to have his photo taken, especially school photos. To him, it was unnecessary, and he had no tolerance for anything he considered unnecessary. He still feels that way today. I got over it and didn’t complain when he forgot to tell me it was photo day. His picture did not grace the yearbooks, nor did we have a yearly school photo of him, after 5th grade. The only exception: he chose to have his senior picture in the yearbook. Our family is heavily documented in family photos and candid shots, so I didn’t care. It simply didn’t make the list of things that mattered to me.

When we took an Alaskan cruise as a family, my son was in the 8th grade. The two of us reached a mutually beneficial arrangement. As long as he dressed for the official photo night in his suit and smiled for the camera for all the photos I wanted, he could skip the formal meal and eat in the casual pizza/burger area and play video games. Both of us were happy with our agreement.

My son performed beautifully. He looked excellent in his suit, smiled for the camera, and didn’t balk at the number of different photos we took. When the last photo was taken, I thanked him, and he unknotted his tie as he turned to leave. His father demanded to know where he was going. The boy didn’t speak but looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

I laughed and explained that our son fulfilled his part of the bargain and had the evening free. He left and had a wonderful evening by teenage boy standards. I had the family photos I wanted and was happy. Our twelve-year-old daughter thought her brother was nuts for not wanting to stay in his grown-up clothes and be waited on. And my husband? Well, to be honest, I was never quite sure if he was unhappy that our son didn’t eat with us that night or if he wished he had made the same agreement.