#Blogtown: Letters from the Homefront

Dear Friends,

Why does this blog post begin like a letter? I’ll tell you.

My friend Anna at The Brown Dress Project is drawing on a lifetime of history-reading for strength and motivation in the present time. I love her assessment of what qualities are needed.

 Thrift, ingenuity, service, hard work, gratitude for daily bread, commitment to neighborliness were all traits which brought families through. Those times are no longer the faded memories of grandparents – they are upon us now.

Anna the Librarian/Historian

In today’s open letter on her blog, Anna’s suggesting that our #blogtown community stick together through this hard time by writing letters to each other. Noting that the front lines for this “world war” run squarely through the home of each person, Anna hearkens back to the days when the efforts of those at home provided the strength and resources for those far away on the more obvious battlefields. That’s why she’s calling for Letters from the Homefront.

If you have a blog, welcome! You’re automatically a neighbor in the #blogtown community. Your well-being matters. The funny moments, frantic boredom, quiet inspiration, fabulous nap, or dogged determination that got you through the day are worth sharing with all of us, your virtual neighbors.

It’s a quiet day at my house. I’m pondering the mix of worry and relief this situation has brought to us. I meant to bake bread today, but instead I played games with my kiddo and took a gray-day walk, looking for leaf buds and early flowers. I even curled up on the couch with the dog and stared out the window at the intricacy of tree branches.

This week has been fiercely busy. I work for an internet company, so working at home isn’t a change. But the sudden influx of EVERYONE ON THE PLANET onto the internet, all hoping to help, all live-streaming, all sharing tips, all asking if this or that is going to happen and when, seemed to make all my days twice as crowded.

I love the surge of helpfulness, but I also believe that we humans aren’t capable of sustaining this level of intensity. Once the novelty of this situation wears off, we will either turn on each other or relax into this new way of being and go back to binge-watching Netflix or reading real, tangible, papery-scented printed books. We’ll walk around the block, and around again. We’ll bake things. Our supply chain will recover from our panic, and there won’t be as much to say about toilet paper any more. But I don’t think normal life will come back for a few months.

I’m at peace for now. Mostly. And exchanging letters with all of you here in this cozy internet community will be something I continue to enjoy.

God bless and keep you,

Melinda

#LettersfromtheHomefront

What is your earliest memory of writing?

Once upon a time, when I was little, I went outdoors on a summer afternoon. I walked down the long driveway, from the backdoor of our yellow house, past the garden and the swingset, toward the garage. As I walked, I heard my own voice inside my head, telling the story of what I was doing. I knew the story stretched back to my beginning, and that I was just noticing it, not beginning it. I knew the story was happening still, and that it would keep on happening, as long as I kept on telling it.

That is my first memory of writing. At the time, I was only 4 or 5 years old. I wouldn’t have called it “writing” then, but when I follow the ribbon of my words all the way back, that moment is their anchor

Next, I recall a day in 4th or 5th grade when I decided to write a detective story. I wrote the title, The Mystery of the Golden Bell, across the top of the page and began on my story, scrawling along in pencil until I reached the end of the paper. I started on the next sheet, wondering what would happen next. And then it happened – the revelatory moment when I realized that if I was going to write the story, I had to know what was going to happen in the story! Alas, I had no idea what happened in the story, so The Mystery of the Golden Bell remains unsolved.

I’m interested in the beginnings of things, so I asked some friends to share their earliest memory of writing. I find the responses fascinating (also cute, funny, and characteristic).

My friend Katherine’s first memory is oddly appropriate to her later life. She’s a published author of a series called Crime with the Classics. I love that her earliest writing memory involves a “trial” with her mother playing counsel for the defense.

In sixth grade we were assigned to write a short story (possibly from a prompt, I don’t remember). The teacher accused me of having copied my story from a women’s magazine. My mother successfully defended me from this charge. I remember nothing about my story except that the main character was named Betty.

Katherine

I was struck by how many writing memories are connected to teachers. It’s a good reminder that writing is social: the activity itself may be solitary, but what is written is a communication, and sometimes we need help from mentors and friends to launch it into the world.

I remember in the 3rd grade my teacher trying to encourage me to enter a story that I wrote for a class assignment to a state writing contest. I was so nervous and scared that I told her I couldn’t send it in. After much encouragement, I agreed to let her mail it in.

About 3 months later, my teacher called me up to her desk before going outside for recess. All the kids had gone outside. She handed me a large manila envelope. As I opened it, a 1st place ribbon fell into my lap. I pulled out a spiral bound book. It was the stories of all the top 5 winners.

I remember just sitting there shocked. My teacher had a huge smile on her face, and she showed me a box of books that I had won for our school.

I couldn’t believe that I went from being this kindergartener who struggled with English and who saw a special teacher to help with reading writing, to a 3rd grader who won a state writing competition. It still makes me smile and warms my heart thinking about it.

Nancy

My third grade teacher taught us how to write poetry and arranged to have several of us read our poems on a local radio station. That was a thrilling experience for me and inspired a lot of poetry writing in my school years. Some of my poems were published in obscure little anthologies of children’s poetry. Funny, I’m not sure I even remember how to write poetry now.

Elizabeth

In first grade, our teacher had us do little writing assignments. But I don’t remember what I wrote. What I remember is that she wrote a poem about me being an author. Definitely changed my life.

Laura

The 5th grade teacher would give us lists of spelling words to use in sentences. I made the sentences into a story.

The 6th grade teacher asked, “Have you ever heard the term ‘stream of consciousness’? That’s what you’re writing.”

Frederica

In addition to helping build good writers, good teachers make good teachers! Check out this memory!

[My first memory is of] Learning to write in Kindergarten. We had these 10×10 (?) Letter books with tactile glitter letters on the front (one book per letter). I also remember Phonics workbooks and spelling tests. 😂 Creative writing memories are mostly from 6th grade because I think we actually had creative writing time with my teacher. I teamed up with a classmate and we wrote a “scary” story that was shared at the end of the year writing celebration. This is one reason why I loved doing writers notebooks with my 6th graders when I taught ELA. Drop everything and write days. It was the first chance in school they were ever told to write whatever they wanted to write! For some it was a challenge and they needed prompts. For others, they thrived in being able to express their thoughts and ideas. Otherwise quiet or class clown kids let their creativity shine!

Irene

This next made me chuckle. It’s from one of our #Blogtown friends, Elzabeta at God Has Promised.

I wrote a series of interviews with Garfield the Cat. A lot of lasagna was spilled. I also wrote my own sequel to The Empire Strikes Back because George Lucas was taking too long.

Elzabeta

George Lucas was taking too long! 😀

Here’s another early writer with her eyes on Hollywood.

In second grade I wrote Charlie’s Angels FAN-FICTION on construction paper in crayon. I think. Now I’m starting to doubt my memory. I definitely wrote SOMETHING in crayon and folded the construction paper into a ‘book’.

Cynthia

There were so many stories shared that there isn’t room for all of them in this post, so I’ll close with this one, which I love because it resonates with my own, deep, early memories of STORY – the core of all meaning and beauty in my world.

Well, I remember in kindergarten, we were all writing stories about sea creatures–but I was incredibly frustrated, because my teacher wouldn’t let me write it down myself, instead insisting on taking my dictation. Certain other classmates with neater handwriting were allowed to write their own, and I felt it was a great injustice. (The story itself was about a sea urchin, which I liked because they were purple, and was quite inane.)

My first memory of storytelling, however, was before that, a collaboration between myself and a truly remarkable babysitter (also Orthodox). My backyard was transformed into a magical realm, with each landmark being given Anne of Green Gables-style names, and C. S. Lewis-like cosmological significance. My dolls were central characters, of course, and were joined by several more who were portrayed by her and by myself at various points in the story. Together, with the aid of my trusty slingshot, we worked our way through rising tension, the apocalypse, and even into the Age to Come. If I ever write a story that feels as beautiful and exciting as that one did to me then, and does still despite my forgetfulness of the particulars, I will be well-pleased.

Elizabeth

How to Join #bloginstead: Move to Blogtown!

It’s Saturday morning. We’ve completed the #3daysinthewilds that comprised the original plan for #bloginstead, and we’re happy in this growing community. The pioneer members have decided to unpack the wagons, build houses, plant gardens, and stay a while. Would you like to join us?

We hope you will!

If you want to move to Blogtown and participate in friendly, human-scale community online, just follow these simple steps. We’re looking forward to welcoming you!

  1. Read about how #bloginstead got started (HERE).
  2. Learn how Blogtown works (HERE).
  3. Do you have a personal blog? If you read about Blogtown in number 2 above, you know we’re personal bloggers. Nobody’s a brand here, and that’s important. If you don’t have a blog, make one. Personally, I like wordpress.com. But it’s your blog. Do what works for YOU.
  4. Follow the blogs listed HERE to join the current group.
  5. Start your own neighborhood in Blogtown. Invite real-life friends to revive or create personal blogs, and then follow the same procedure – everyone in the group follows everyone in the group.
  6. Start writing posts, and start reading and commenting on your friends posts.
  7. You’re in Blogtown! Welcome!

Remember, this isn’t the glamorous world of influencers and the one-finger scroll. This is people talking to people. Don’t worry if you can’t write deathless prose that will shock the world with profound insight and prodigious beauty. Write the way you talk. You have something to say. Just type those words onto your blog. Plain or fancy, they are your words. What makes you an important part of the group is YOU – your voice, sharing your experience and conversing with your community about their experience, too.

Blogtown: Can we build it?

Arriving at lunch time on Day 2 of #bloginstead, I realized that I don’t want this experience to end. I see it growing as people join us and we become more adept at navigating this little virtual town we’re building. It would be sad to dismantle that on Saturday morning.

I’ve been pondering what I’m observing during this vacation from the social media vortex. Some would define blogging as a form of social media, but it is an older form, and it lacks many of the less appealing attributes of its descendants.

What’s good about this kind of blogging?

Looking around our group, I see that we are people, not brands. Our websites are home-made. We are not trying to monetize our interactions. We are not seeking to be influencers. We are not photoshopping the bumps and swirls of our real lives out of our communicated identity. If anything, I see a remarkable (and beautifully articulated) honesty in our posts. And I see the essential kindness in our responses to each other that is necessary to protect that kind of honesty.

Our communication is slower. Writing it takes longer. Reading it takes longer. It’s happening on a human scale, almost in real time.

I keep returning to my sense that #bloginstead is like visiting people in their homes, instead of at a shopping mall. It’s possible to visit in both places, but the quality and intimacy of the interaction will be much higher in the living room than in the food court.

So now I’m asking myself: what can I do to give #bloginstead a longer life? Could it become a movement? How?

Defining the Movement

There’s the long story, full of facial expressions and gesticulating hands no doubt inherited straight from my French ancestors. But in a nutshell? This.

#bloginstead: An intentional community of human beings who use personal blogging as their primary online social space.

If this community has a rule, it is to behave as if you were speaking to each other in person, face to face. Kindly. In good faith. As the beautiful human God created you to be.

The next question – can #bloginstead grow? Yes, it can grow if it has an understandable structure that can be replicated, that doesn’t depend on the herding capabilities of a single person.

The structure is simple. It has two components – people and blogs – and two methods – to be an active poster and commenter, and to invite others to participate with you.

Don’t wait for the fish to find you

Too often, personal bloggers get discouraged because they send a post out into the world and nothing happens. That’s because this is a crowded era, noisy and fragmented. It’s easy to be drowned out.

Blogging with a group solves that problem, but only if you are an active participant. Even in our little pilot group of 28, the people getting the most out of it are thriving because they post each day and then run over to see what their friends are posting and what they can say about it. Be that person.

Don’t come alone

You might think, “The only reason this is working for you is is because it’s so small. You all know each other, so you all comment on each other’s sites. But if everyone did this, people would get lost in the crowd, and blogging would be lonely and frustrating again.”

The solution? Don’t come alone. Decide to #bloginstead and invite your friends to do it with you. Two friends, three friends. You’ll soon make more, but you need people you already know to start you off. The more you write and the more you visit other houses in Blogtown, the more your little neighborhood will grow.

#bloginstead works and benefits us if it is a group activity. Like a neighborhood, we each build and run a house of our own. But we enjoy our time in those houses and benefit from it if we know and serve our neighbors.

#bloginstead: Day 2 morning news

Good morning! Welcome to Day 2 of #bloginstead, a group of friends who had abandoned social media in favor of blogging for 3 days. You are SO welcome to join us! Jump in by following the participating blogs and tell us who you are so we can follow you too.

New Members

I’m happy to say that our group grew during Day 1. Each new member was added to the list upon arrival, but I’m going to add them here to, as an extra way to rejoice. They are:

Susan at https://kindlerofjoy.com/

Amanda at https://emberings.com/

Martha at http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/

Heather at https://sleightholmfolk.com/

Emmie at https://justonerobin.com/

Kristi at https://raisingorthodoxchristians.com/

Angelina at https://angelinasgarden.wordpress.com/

Sarah at https://skbrangwynne.weebly.com/blog

You, Writing about #bloginstead

Skating around from one blog to the next, I read your reflections on why you’re here and what you’re hoping will come of this experiment. In the spirit of #bloginstead, I hope you’re all reading each other’s posts as they come, but for anyone who missed them, here’s some good reading to bring you up to speed.

Elizabeth, jumping in and offering you fair warning: https://elzabeta.blogspot.com/2020/01/day-first-of-bloginstead.html

Anna, beginning a true-life love-story miniseries and leaving us hanging on the cliff: https://browndressproject.com/2020/01/08/happily-ever-after-takes-work/

Matushka Anna, who is including amazing photos with each post: https://prayingwithmyfeet.blog/2020/01/07/back-in-the-saddle-bloginstead/

Sarah wrote us a poem. She seriously did. https://thelivescript.com/2020/01/08/bloginstead-the-hermits-lament/

Cris , fearlessly writing about being fearful: http://criscramer.com/blog/2020/1/8/standing-up-again

Stasia, amazingly honest and poignant, and smelling of roses: https://stasiastruggles.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/bloginstead/

Andrea, storytelling, story-keeping, in the forest and looking back at her family: http://storiedpathways.com/2020/01/07/sharing-a-story/

Nic asking the fascinating question, “But what if there wasn’t?”: https://metanoiabum.wordpress.com/2020/01/07/bloginstead-1-dig-deeper/

Catherine, on embroidery, translation, and doing fine things well: https://eventhinealtars.home.blog/2020/01/07/on-doing-fine-things-well/

Michelle, responding to struggle with new dedication: https://hopefulpatience.blogspot.com/2020/01/update-on-what-i-will-post-going-forward.html

Summer, offering what may well have been the quote of the day (it’s about helpful failure) and a pirate dog song: https://summerkinard.com/2020/01/08/bloginstead-challenge-day-one-episode-two/

Susan, remembering why she started blogging in the first place: https://kindlerofjoy.com/2020/01/08/2020-and-new-beginnings/

Amanda, because she can’t do anything else: https://emberings.com/2020/01/08/id-like-to-bloginstead/

Martha, bringing us a cozy Christmas post that even includes paper crowns on grownups: http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/2020/01/thoughts-on-nativity.html

Emmie, asking hard questions and finding beauty in a pomegranate: https://justonerobin.com/2020/01/09/whole-and-part/

Have you read these? Hop along over. Browse and comment. It’s peaceful, and these bloggers will answer your comments. The conversation is just waiting to happen.

The list of blogs to follow for #bloginstead

Remember, everyone participating should follow all the participating blogs so we can communicate easily during our 3 days!

Today is our day to get organized. Everyone’s signing up and following each other. The 3 Day Count begins tomorrow, Wednesday, 1/8/2020.

Here’s the list to follow. Be sure to keep going all the way to the end, so you don’t miss out on anyone! Please note that these blogs are on multiple platforms, so they have different kinds of Follow buttons or in some cases no button. But this is the community of people participating, so one way or another, this is who we’re talking to for the coming 3 days!

Cynthia at https://cynthiajunelong.wordpress.com/

Elizabeth at https://elzabeta.blogspot.com/

Anna at http://browndressproject.com/

Mat. Anna at https://prayingwithmyfeet.blog/

Edna at https://www.engageorthodoxy.net/woven-blog

Phoebe at http://beingincommunity.com/

Nicole at www.nicoleroccas.com/blog/

Sarah at https://thelivescript.com

Matthew at http://vespersinvienna.com/index.html

Cris at http://criscramer.com/

Stasia at https://stasiastruggles.wordpress.com/

Pres. Vassi at https://vscardbox.com/

Nancy at  https://moretothestorypicturebookreviews.com

Amber at https://rejoiceinthehome.com/

Andrea at http://storiedpathways.com/

Nic at metanoiabum.wordpress.com

Elias at https://remims53.blogspot.com/

Catherine at http://eventhinealtars.home.blog

Michelle at www.hopefulpatience.blogspot.com

Summer at https://summerkinard.com/

Oh, and also, me! Right here at https://melindajohnsonwriting.com/blog-2/

And Susan! https://kindlerofjoy.com/

And Amanda at https://emberings.com/

Martha at http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/

Heather at https://sleightholmfolk.com/

Emmie at https://justonerobin.com/

Kristi at https://raisingorthodoxchristians.com/

Angelina at https://angelinasgarden.wordpress.com/

Sarah at http://sarahkatherinewriting.com

Ian at https://orthodoxtrucker.com/

Cynthia at https://kaiserswest.wordpress.com/

Bev. at https://bevnalabbeyscriptorium.wordpress.com/

Amber at https://lakeanneliving.wordpress.com

Gia at https://deardad.family.blog

Lisa at https://lisahoweler.com/

Annie at https://ruraltimewarp.wordpress.com/

Emily at https://ceceliashome.wordpress.com/

Welcome to #bloginstead!

Remember that scene in Mary Poppins (the ORIGINAL Mary Poppins) where the horses leap off the merry-go-round and ride away cross country?

That’s what we’re doing here. I’m collecting as many friends with blogs as will come off the merry-go-round with me, and we’re all going to communicate via our blogs INSTEAD of via Facebook for 3 days.

For 3 days, we’ll post on our blogs the way we’d post on social – informal, chatty, what’s up at the moment, stream of consciousness, whatever it is that constitutes a conversation for you at the time. Everyone in the group will follow everyone in the group, and we’ll visit by reading and commenting on each other’s posts. Anyone who doesn’t have a blog but wants to join in commenting is very welcome. After 3 days, we decide what, if anything, we’ve discovered.

#bloginstead #3daysinthewilds

Want to join in? Follow this blog. I’ll be posting a list of participating blogs later today, with links where you can go to follow them.

UPDATE: We got to the end of the 3 days, and nobody wants to stop. So nobody is stopping. Want to join? Here’s a list of people to follow to get started, and please let me know if you’d like to be added to the list.

First Best Christmas Memory

Candles lit behind a small white house ornament and a pinecone on a table

Mine is the year I played Archangel Gabriel in the neighborhood Christmas Tableaux my mother hosted in our livingroom. I wore the flower-girl dress from her wedding – it was long and white, sleeveless, with a band of gold ribbon around the empire waist and daisies on the bodice and in a strip around the hem. My halo was a scratchy golden band of decorative fabric trim, and my mother made a sheer lemon yellow cape with holes for my hands to slip through that I wore like wings. I remember being coached to hold up my arms when I appeared to Mary, who wore my mother’s blue house coat and a soft white scarf on her little red head. She sat on the flagstone floor of the front hall, stirring imaginary bread dough with a wooden spoon in a ceramic bowl, and I came down the front stairs to appear before her. Our friends took the parts of Joseph, the shepherds, and the wisemen, and my baby doll played the most important role of all, wrapped in a white sheet and sleeping gently on a bed of hay in the wicker laundry basket.

Christmas memories have been part of my writing life this year as I finish work on The Barn and the Book, the next in the Sam and Saucer series. It’s a Christmas story about a boy named Sam, his corgi friend Saucer, some nuns, and the children who play together at the monastery after church. Sam is hunting a Christmas memory of a kind in this story, and as I look forward to the book’s release this fall, I decided to ask some friends about their childhood Christmases.

What is your first best Christmas memory?

That was the question, and the answers were as various and colorful as the people I asked. Although the usual themes appear – family, food, wishes – there’s a plot twist in every one of these stories. I love to be reminded that all of life is unexpected, complex, personal, and interesting.

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“I remember my Mom bringing my new baby brother home in a Christmas stocking. ” – Adriane Adams

“I remember most of my 2nd Christmas morning. I remember coming downstairs. I remember discovering presents and my parents’ excitement.” – Elizabeth Calder

“I was the Star of Bethlehem in the Christmas pageant when I was ~5ish. I shone. I beamed. (The big kids and my older sisters got to be the angel choir, because they could read lyrics, and at first I was jealous of them.) Proudest moment of my first 10 years.” – Cynthia Long

“The Anglicans have a tradition of starting Christmas Eve with “Once in Royal David’s City,” with the first verse being sung solo by a boy soprano/treble. When I finally got the chance to do it, that was a real highlight.” – Jonathan Hill, Orthodox Theology of the Beautiful

I was adopted at Christmas, brought home on Christmas Eve when my older sisters were sleeping. My parents put me in a little Moses basket type thing under the tree. My middle sister spent the next many months at least ABSOLUTELY BELIEVING that Santa had granted her wish and brought a baby sister JUST for her! Obviously, I don’t remember this actually happening, but my family still breaks out the picture and story every year.” – Maria Powell

“Christmas for me always meant my dad taking my brother and I to ToysR’Us. He was (still is) a workaholic, and while he loved us very much, he missed a lot. But on that evening, he would go, and we would walk up and down. Every. Aisle. And he had this big yellow legal pad, and he’d write down Every Single Item we said we liked or that we wanted (along with the price). It sounds materialistic, but this was uninterrupted time with our dad, where we could talk about our likes and dislikes, and our interests. Afterwards, we would sit and write out stars (or sometimes lots of stars) next to things we wanted the most, or cross items off we decided we didn’t really want. We never got everything (I can only imagine what that would have cost! Ha!), but that time is very cherished. I don’t know that that is my earliest memory, but it is my strongest Christmas memory. I have other flashes of memories of going to my grandparents’ across the state, or big potluck dinners with extended family that I didn’t really know (There were always Swedish Meatballs! We have a strong Scandinavian heritage.), and I remember the person who hosted those had swinging doors into her kitchen like an old wild west saloon, and I thought that was pretty spectacular. I remember it was my “job” to put up the nativity display, and how seriously I took that. And I remember making cookies out of our old Swedish cookbook. But mostly, I looked forward to that time with my Dad.” – Kira Miller

My mom making waffle sundaes and huevos rancheros on Christmas morning with tamales from a relative on the table, too. I make these things now for my kids, and it means even more after fasting!” – Jessica Archuleta, Every Home a Monastery

“We were at a GIANT family party, and my brothers and two male cousins locked me in a closet, and nobody noticed until I wasn’t there to open gifts. It all ended well! My brothers and cousins had to give me their candy.” – Melissa Elizabeth Naasko

“My earliest Christmas memory is my first memory, period. It is not in English. It was my first Christmas in Guatemala, where my parents were Mennonite missionaries. I would have just turned 3. We invited our friends (and my parents’ house/grounds helpers) Pablo and Erxlinda and their little son Julio to join us. We were eating fresh corn tortillas, called “gua” in Q’eqchi’, the Mayan dialect of the region. (Incidentally, “gua” doubles as the word for food, “gua’ac'” is the verb “to eat,” and if some day you haven’t had “gua,” that is, tortillas, you haven’t eaten at all regardless of what else you’ve eaten that day. Corn is very important to the diet of the region, especially corn tortillas. But I digress…)

My memory is of my parents asking Julio (I think he was 1.5 or 2 at the time) if his “gua” was good (“Ma’ sa li gua?”) to which he answered a hearty and enthusiastic, “Sa, PUES!” (of COURSE it’s good!) And everyone laughed.

So yeah, my memory has nothing to do with Christmas or Christ’s birth, but all the same, I’m delighted that it is my first memory. I was so very blessed to be allowed to grow up in a convergence of cultures, and although my Q’eqchi’ is dormant (it comes back to life when I’m in Guatemala again for a few days), I’m so very glad that my first memory is in that language. ” – Kristina Wenger

“When I was 5 my older brother ruined the secret of Santa for me on Christmas Eve. So my dad started a new tradition of me getting a surprise gift from Elvis instead.” Jill Wojslaw, @TheseParents

“My Aunt Jesse sending us a big box of See’s candy from Pasadena, California each year. We would sneak into it and eat a candy each day, take out the tell-tale wrapper, and wrap up the box again. By Christmas, the 5-pound box of candies probably weighed about a pound.” – Cheri Mullins

“My dad died when I was young, leaving my mom with 5 kids under 7. It was always a struggle financially, but one Christmas, the living room was filled with bicycles – one for each of us! We saw my mom wheeling them over on Christmas Eve – my neighbor stored them in his garage.” – Matushka Wendy

I remember as a very young girl, going to bed that evening: no tree up yet, no cookies in sight, nothing near ‘Christmas’ ready; when we woke, early the next morning, there would be the tree! the lights! the neatly wrapped presents! cookies! and the aroma of coffee brewing! Amid the torn wrapping paper, we’d play for hours with our new dolls, blocks, and games; our mom always took a nap on the couch nearby. As I got older, my mother’s amazing Christmas cutout (anise) cookie recipe with the royal icing and all were handed down to me; now years later, that recipe is handed down to my 2 daughters. They know how to make them as well as my mother and I once did together. We make so many for gifts to share for our neighbors and friends; family. This year we had a slight emergency with our youngest boy; I was just about to make these cookies (they’re time consuming, too) when an accident happened at home that sent us straight to the emergency room; resulted in a 3-day stay in the hospital. My husband and I brought our boy home Christmas eve; the house was clean and cookies all baked and decorated! Of course, I cried.” – Kelleylynn Barberg

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Next time you’re sitting in traffic, choosing apples at the farmer’s market, or waiting for hours at the DMV, look at the people around you and realize anew that every one of them holds a full set of memories, as you do, and a story full of plot twists. Each of us is a mystery. Glory to God!

 

-Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash