Hang A Shining Star - Chapter OneRight, In the grand tradition of Swiss Toni, I am going to start posting my NaNo novel. I need to finish it, and having feedback will help, I am sure. So, if its good, let me know. If its terrible, tell me to jump ship so I dont waste anymore time.
Oh - it is set at Christmas, so sorry about that...
"For Christmas time is tradition time - - Traditions that recall the precious memories down the
years, the sameness of them all." * Helen Lowrie Marshall
Christmas is a time for tradition. There is a comforting, yet odd beauty in the rituals we set for
ourselves over the years. How we say to ourselves, ‘It isn’t Christmas unless I do this or that.’
There is a special feeling that comes from laying out each special ornament, hanging the star on
the tree, or breaking the wishbone with a loved one every year.
There is this feeling that tugs at your chest and pulls at the corner of your eyes. It makes you
breathe deeply and smile. You look out the window hoping to see snow. You wander through the house singing Christmas songs and doing little dances around the corners.
I love Christmas traditions. I love the feel that it is the same, yet different. I love adding
something special to each passing year. Somehow, the memories seem sweeter as each year
passes. And each memory feels more special to me, as I do over again every year.
Growing up, my family had a number of traditions. Christmas was an event we did together, on
one special day. I looked forward to it for weeks at a time, thinking of how I would see all of my
aunts, my cousins and my grandma and grandpa. I looked forward to the stories and the joking
We would get up early in the morning, and put up the Christmas tree together. Giggling, we
would take turn plugging in the lights, and laughing at the one strand that never stopped blinking. We would set aside our favorite ornaments to put on last, in a place of prominence. We would tease Grandma over the theme she had chosen for each year, and sing songs as we unwound the tinsel from its cardboard holder and wound it about the tree. I would stand close the tree and breathe in the smell of the ornaments, that musty, sweet aged smell that comes with age and love and being wrapped in newspaper year after year. I would rub my nose against the tinsel until I sneezed, and grin at my Aunt Catharine telling me I wouldn’t sneeze like that if I kept my face out of the tree, and how one day I was going to sneeze so hard I would knock the tree over.
We would finish with the tree and go outside to help Grandma put up the outdoor Christmas
lights. My sister Moriah and I would get in the way, dancing around the yard with the light-up
soldiers and angels. I can still hear my Grandpa yelling from the porch that we should stop all our silliness and come sit with him, he had cocoa on the porch. Cocoa with Grandpa was always
better than Aunt Susanne telling us about her days of dreaming she wanted to be a ballerina, and how if we kept eating cookies we would never be ballerinas. James always pointed out to her that the hippos in Fantasia were ballerinas. She would say "Hush, son." And he would scurry to the porch with us, where we basked in the warmth of Grandpa’s arms and cocoa and his love.
When we started to get older, Grandpa would let us come inside with him when we were finished and he would let us "help" him with dinner until the ladies ran us out. We would poke at the bag of giblets and put our fingers in the gravy. Sniffing in the back, we usually found cookies, pies and home made candy that we could sneak away, or slip to Grandpa when Grandma wasn’t
As I grew older, and I could decide whether or not I wanted to go to the Christmas preparations, I kept going. At first, it was a way to keep in touch with all of my aunt as I got older and we all
grew apart with school, jobs and families. When I was little I would see them all the time, and we joked and laughed about our everyday lives when we got together. When they began to be busy
with their own families, get married and have children of their own, I would ask them how my
new uncles were or when they would go ice skating with me like he used to. It seemed we
stopped seeing each other the way we used to, and I grew to miss those times throughout the
When the family stopped coming, and it was just me, or me and a my mom and sister, I kept
coming to help Grandma and Grandpa with the decorating and cooking because I knew it was
important to them. My family as always been taught to love and respect traditions, and it made
my grandparents sad to see it slipping away. I wanted to show them that I remembered. That I knew how they felt, and I wanted to keep the traditions with them.
When grandpa got sick, and passed on, it seemed like no one wanted to be there at all, even my
mom, who always was there. I could see the heartbreak in my grandmother’s eyes the year I was the only one who came to help. We stuck it out though, and we loved to spend the time together every year. It reminded me of the times when I was little. As I put up the tree with her I would remember the sense of amazement I felt at how big and beautiful the tree was. It was amazing, exciting. I felt the love coming from my family with every bulb we hung, cookie we baked and light we strung.
This day depresses me now, just a little. The older I get, the more I wish I was a child again. The more I wish things would go back to the way they were. I see how Grandma still waits by the
door, thinking someone might show up late. I see how she sighs when we break the wishbone
together. It breaks me a little bit inside every year.
I come now from habit. I have my Grandfather’s spirit. I refuse to let the traditions die. I refuse to forget the memories we made when I was a child.
I want to make each Christmas better. I don’t know how. I don’t know which Christmas will be
the one. But one year, I will feel that special feeling I had as a child. I will be amazed at the love
of my family. I will feel warm with their laughter and smiles. I cling to that feeling. The one I hold inside from all those Christmases, the ones from what seems to be ages ago. I want to get it back. I will get it back. I have to.