Holiday Blessings


Holiday Blessings

By Nandy Ekle

We love our relatives–our mothers, fathers, siblings, in-laws, out-laws, and everyone in between.  Each family is as unique as the individuals that make it up. No two families are alike. And that’s what makes our holiday times special.

Most of our family members are pure gold and we can’t wait to be with them. We feel so warm and comfortable with them and hate when the time comes to go our separate ways again. There are other members of our family who . . . well, we shake our heads and wonder if our genes actually match.

But I learned something a few years ago. After a fairly stressful year, a new job, a few changes in the dynamics of my immediate family, and an injury–the holidays felt more like impending doom than fun and joy. I slipped away into my own world and read a book (don’t even remember which book) and I found the answer to my holiday joylessness.

If I could change my attitude, I was sure I would find a way to enjoy the whole yuletide process. I knew the people I would be around, I knew that I love them and would do anything for them. And that’s when it dawned on me. I would be in a goldmine. I would be surrounded by characters and stories that I could embellish like a Christmas tree.

And boom! There it was! I was suddenly excited about the holidays.

I repeat, I love every single member of my family, the ones I’ve known my whole entire life, the ones who have joined us over the years, and the newest ones. The thought of spending time with the whole crazy bunch thrills me. There is always fun and laughter, joy and love. And through it all, the muse sits on my shoulder taking notes.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.


Outtakes 73


By Cait Collins

I’ve finished the Christmas shopping, fought the crowds at the grocery store, trimmed the tree, hung my stocking, and centered the wreath over the fireplace. My living room looks like a tornado struck it as rolls of wrapping paper, tissue, gift bags, tags, ribbons, and bows litter the floor. I have to finish wrapping all the gifts I’ve purchased for nieces and nephews, family and friends. The cards are addressed and mailed. What have I forgotten? I grab my list and check it again. Everything is done until I starting cooking for my sisters’ birthday dinner. Still, I fell as if something is undone.

I look over at the tree and wonder if it has enough decorations. Should I get out the left-overs and add them to tree? Did I buy enough for the kids? Did I spend enough time writing my letters to the aunts and uncles I seldom see? Have I taken enough time to eat right, exercise, and rest? Have I allowed enough time to enjoy the season or have I allowed the parties, dinners, and all the bad reports from the news media to sap my Christmas spirit.

Reality, the tree looks fine. My nephew, Josh, jointed me for pizza and tree trimming. We talked and laughed while we worked. Our kids always get more than they need. My annual letters to the family are long enough to assure them we are all doing fine. No, I have not eaten right. This time of the year I tend to eat on the run. No on the exercise, but I’ve taken a week off, and I’m really taking a break. The parties and dinners have been enjoyable, and I’ve turned off the news. My nephews and I spent three hours taking in THE HOBBIT. Now I have my feet up and am watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. What more could I want? It is enough.

As I get ready to begin submitting my current work, I ask myself if the novel is good enough. Is there enough description? Are the scenes thoroughly developed? Is there enough back story? Are the characters believable? Even when license is taken with reality, are the events written well enough to make the reader accept it? As I read each chapter, I look for places to improve the manuscript. I work to tame my internal editor to prevent overworking Kate’s story. Even when the final edits are done and the submissions are sent, there will be doubts. It’s the nature of a writer to want to snatch the work back and rewrite one scene or another. It will never be enough. In the end, I must trust my instincts and lay it to rest. I’m almost ready to let go. I’m almost ready to say it is enough.