TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Making Christmas Traditions

Christmas Tree, Ornaments, Christmas
With Christmas just two days away, it’s time for me to reflect on other Christmas memories.  I realize those memories provide an insight into the kind of writer I want to be in the future…

Circa 1971…The Ghosts of Christmas Past

When I was small, Christmas was probably the happiest time of my life.  We were extremely poor, but my mother always managed to make Christmas magical to me.  We had some family traditions back then that laid the foundation of how I celebrate the season today.  There was always the trip out in the country to hand pick our real Christmas tree.  Then came the stringing of popcorn and red berries, along with handmade ornaments to decorate it.  Huge globes of colored lights twinkled in the darkness as we sat looking at our work of art on cold December nights.  Homemade hot cocoa and decorated treats made by my mother are so real to me that I can almost taste it today.  My brother even got good at learning how to unwrap and then rewrap our gifts on Christmas eve without our parents ever finding out. And I can’t forget the antique musical church that had a wind up key in the back.  How I used to beg to wind up that church. I would sit for hours as Away In The Manger played and the doors of the church swung open to display the lighted nativity inside.  One Christmas I had strep throat and my mother forbade me to speak but when she left the room I would whisper sing that song because even at that age I was starting my own holiday traditions. That church still holds a place of honor by every Christmas tree I display today.

Circa 1991…The Ghosts of Christmas Present

My son is about 4 years old and wants a baby doll for Christmas.  He is old enough to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and I am a single mom on a very tight budget.  We have no money for a Christmas tree so he and I take green poster board and draw a tree.  We tape it up on our wall and color homemade ornaments to tape to it (thanks, Mom, for the memories of homemade ornaments from Christmases past).  I drape the only store bought item I have, gold tinsel, all over the tree and I set a small table under it for our meager presents.  On Christmas Eve we drive around to look at the pretty Christmas lights on other people’s houses, and my son is worried Santa will come before we get back.  We arrive back at our small apartment to see the lights of an airplane overhead and my son is SURE this is Santa.  He becomes upset because we are not asleep in bed yet.  I reassure him that Santa has many stops to make before he gets to our place.  We race up the stairs to put out cookies and milk for Santa, carrots and peanut butter/raisin treats for the reindeer and tumble into bed so we can fall asleep before the big guy arrives.  I even promise my son Santa will be able to get into our apartment even though we have no fireplace because we leave the front door unlocked for him this night.  I will never forget the surprise on my son’s face when the next morning he discovers grass clippings on the floor leading to the door and all the treats half eaten.  But I will carry with me the wonder of the holidays always as my son unwraps his present from Santa to find the baby doll he names Fred…paid for from many pennies saved over the previous year.

Circa 2019…The Ghosts of Christmas Future

My son is grown up now, married, and works as a traveling nurse.  I have tried to teach him about the magic of Christmas and the strength of tradition but he is young and is more tied to the techno world of today than the traditions of the past.  For myself, this past year has been a year of surprises and growth for me as a writer.  I have made new friends, learned new lessons, and set new goals for the upcoming year.  But I have not forgotten what my mother taught me so many years ago.  Traditions create a foundation families can cling to if the future turns dark.  And I can hold my own holiday traditions close to me, my Christmas Memories, to help flavor all the writing I do in the future.  And who knows?  Maybe one of my stories will help create someone else’s Christmas Memories in their future!
Merry Christmas to all my online friends and may the new year be one of fabulous wishes coming true for us all…
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Donna's Books
If you’re looking for that last minute gift, check out my books on Amazon and on other online retailers. From picture books to chapter books, young adult fantasy to inspirational journal essays, there’s something for everyone on your Christmas list!
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donna - Copy
Best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest chapter book series is called HISTORY’S MYSTERIES. Book One, Ship of Dreams, is available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers. Also, coming to the Titanic Museums in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Book Two, A Chocolate Train Wreck, was released in November.

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