Christmas thoughts: What I learned from “Miracle on 34th Street”

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When I was a little girl, Miracle on 34th Street was one of my favorite Christmas movies.

My parents could never get me to believe in Santa Claus.  (I was very much like little Susan Walker that way.)

My mom told me (more than once), when I lamented about not having blond hair and blue eyes like all the other little girls wanted, that Natalie Wood (who played Susan in the movie) grew up to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, with her dark hair and brown eyes, like mine.

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Not long before I became a mom, I was touched by the scene in which Kris Kringle asks Susan if her mother ever sang to her.  Susan says no–in that matter-of-fact way of hers–and I saw, in Kris’s merry eyes, how unfortunate that was.

Twas then I realized that I would always sing to my children.

*

When Susan blows off a game in which the other children in her apartment complex are pretending to be animals in a zoo, calling it silly, with Kris telling her it sounds like fun, I realized that fun is an essential part of childhood.

I was never much for pretending when I was a kid (I just drew my stories until I was old enough to write them), but I chose to nurture that in my child.

I chose, and am choosing still, to give my daughter that magical childhood, for there is time enough to be an adult with all the baggage that comes with it.

Maybe through writing my stories, I am pretending still.

*

Even though I never believed in Santa Claus (too many jerky kids got on the nice list), I fell in love with the idea of him, for I believe that we can all play Santa Claus–not to all the children of the world necessarily, but to our own, if no one else.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #373; Theme: Card

Pinky Tale Creations

Pinky Tickles penned greetings for anonymous givers—
cards for every anni, quarrel and bicker—
cards for divorces and broken engagements,
for the neutralizing of toxic friendships,
and friends-with-benefits relationships.

There were cards for congrats
on being canned like a tuna,
or sacked like a potato chip;
for being kicked to the curb
by roommates growing herbs.

There were cards for bad bosses,
“You’re welcome” cards and “Sorry…not!”;
for unhappy birthdays and ugly afterthoughts.

There were unsympathy cards for deadbeat dads and
“Don’t Get Well” cards for mommy dearests;
“Happy Lonely Valentine’s” days,
“Santa Hates You” Christmases,
and “Thank You for Climate Change”,
for those who fired up the works on Independence Day.

Pinky was a minus sign in a plus-sized biz suit—
a fractious little number—
but the day she finally got some shag,
her heart bloomed into a redrum rose and
her words became sweet as a lollipop gag.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 373

Writing Prompt: On Memoir Writing, and Finding Their Voices

If you ever get writer’s block (which can happen if you’re just working on one project at a time; I tend to work on at least seven, and in a variety of forms and genres), writing prompts might help you get unblocked.  Even better, you might come up with a great, publishable piece that you otherwise would have never written. 

  • The Wife of Brian.  (About not losing your identity, but rather, becoming more of who are you through the marriage relationship.  This would definitely have a Christian chick-lit vibe, as I am not the queen of oversharing.)
  • Second to Fluff:  Growing Up with Pet Parents.  (My mom’s story of having to compete for affection from her mom and dad, who liked to say that “dogs were easier to raise than kids”.)
  • Life with Griff.  (Told from my P.O.V. about growing up with a dad who is an unintentional Lucy Ricardo.)
  • Twice Upon a Time in Pensacola.  (My husband’s story of us, and how we crossed paths before we knew each other.  Love and Serendipity.)
  • Hannah Banana of Florabama.  (Though I had already written this as a nursery rhyme about my daughter, I am going to write another in the form of a fairy tale.  It is easy to take any story, and turn it into a fairy-tale:  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/02/12/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-340-theme-finally-or-at-last/)

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  • The Huntsman of Poplar Bluff.  (My Uncle Bill’s story of his “countrified” life, juxtaposed against the lives of his “citified” children.)
  • Jasper Vizsla:  The Hot Dog of New York.  (Based on Dana Perino’s dog of the same name.  A tale/tail? of New York Life, from a dog’s perspective.)
  • Santa Claus:  The Before.  (A fable or legend about how Santa Claus started his trade/calling.  Maybe this has already been done by L. Frank Baum, I don’t know, but I can have my own take.)
  • Before Laurie Nolan:  A Prequel.  (Laurie Nolan is a character in my book, “Because of Mindy Wiley”.  https://sarahleastories.com/because-of-mindy-wiley/)   Mine your writings for characters who still have their own story to tell.  You may even end up with a series of short stories to promote your primary work.
  • Lila Caddy’s Second Family.  A poignant narrative (from the P.O.V. of a twenty-five year old Cadillac named Lila).  Lila was my and Brian’s first car together.  She was more than just transportation–she was our freedom to go wherever we wanted.
  • House on Cottage Row.  The story of a house with heartwarming and heartbreaking secrets.  (Think of all the stories Tara, from “Gone with the Wind”, could tell.)
  • Pensacola:  The Dark Paradise.  Think “City Confidential”.  Every town has a story to tell.  I told mine in “The Ghoul of Whitmire Cemetery” (which was published in an anthology sponsored by the Saturday Evening Post, and was based on a true story).  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/12/06/more-good-news/

I believe these prompts will also help you to write in other “voices”.  I have found that almost all of my main characters are extensions of myself, and so I am in bad need of an “out-of-body” experience.

A persona poem is another great exercise in this:  http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/the-many-faces-of-persona-poems

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #333, Theme: Exhaustion

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The Day after Christmas

Twas the day after Christmas,
when all through the world,
everyone lay a-sleeping,
exhausted from too much holiday keeping.

The Northern Lights are like a cloud of magic
beckoning him home to the North Pole,
the reindeer leaving behind lumps of coal.
It has been a long night of noshing,
crawling up and down fireplaces in snowy wonderlands,
and in and out of windows in rainy summerlands.

He was an old man—
this giver of gifts—
when he was given everlasting life
almost two thousand years ago.
With the help of his elves,
he crafted the cradle
for the Baby King in the manger;
his wife, Ella, had sewn the blanket
He was wrap’t in—
a shroud of Bethlehem.

When he and the Missus
had touched the Babe’s head,
death was swallowed up whole,
and they were given a task—
to be not the masters,
but the servants of the least among them.

He feels his light fading at times,
for fewer children believe now,
but the younger ones do,
for the Kingdom of Heaven
is made up of such.

All the families, he knew by name—
the ones who leave rummy eggnog in punch mugs
and brandied fruitcake on tea plates;
the ones who leave reindeer treats,
and sugar cookies shaped like stars and snowflakes;
the ones with nothing to give
but letters of wishes and thank you cards
and handmade keepsakes.

It wasn’t till centuries later that
the young Norman had captured his essence,
for the boy had caught him unawares
the year he’d left him a box of colors
with which he’d painted the world—
capturing the spirit of Americana,
of happy times and auld lang syne.
Norman had brought him to life through memory—
imagination filling in the rest,
capturing the awe and wonder
so many children possess.

As Santa nears home,
the reindeer skating over the ice,
he whispers to the midnight clear,
“Happy Christmastide to all,
and to all, a Happy New Year!”