Libraries and Me

Public Library Camden ArkansasI have used the library most of my life, starting with the Public Libray in Camden, Arkansas.* Momma checked out books for me until, when I was about seven or 8, she took me to get my own library card. We climbed the steps to the red brick building, pushed open the heavy door, and stepped inside. As always, I immediately noticed how quiet it was, hearing only the sounds of hushed voices and the librarians checking in and reshelving books. Approaching the desk, Momma told the librarian I wanted to get my own library card. She smiled, took my name, completed the paperwork, and handed me my card with a reminder to bring it with me when I wanted to check out books.

I then headed to the children’s section to slowly look through the shelves of books. While I had books at home to read, the library gave me a larger selection to explore, and I believe having access to them helped grow my interest in reading. Finally selecting a few new ones along with some favorites, I carried them to the desk and handed them and my card to the librarian. She removed the check out cards, stamped them with the return date, and handed the books back to me, telling me to enjoy them. I walked out feeling very grown up.

As I got older, there were fewer trips to the library. I amassed quite a collection of Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, which I read and reread. By high school, English classes required reading many classic works, and with other homework, left little time for pleasure reading. This situation only worsened when I was in college and graduate school. By now, trips to the library were to conduct research for school projects. This was the 1980s before you could find information with an internet connection and a few clicks of a computer mouse. I would wander through the stacks for the books I needed, carefully checking what was located on either side of it, a tip I learned from a professor that I continue using today. Sometimes what I needed was stored on microfilm or microfiche, or was located in a specialized library elsewhere on campus. Other times the resource wasn’t available locally but could be obtained through interlibrary loan, another wonderful service offered by libraries. I cannot count the hours I spent researching and studying in libraries as a young adult. The quiet atmosphere, which I had first noticed as a child, was the perfect change to department study rooms or cramped student housing. Living in England for a year, I researched my Master’s degree thesis in a nearby library, soaking up the history that surrounded me.

In my mid-30s, I moved to a new city as a stay-at-home mom with a four-year-old child. I had time to read for pleasure again, and went to the local library to find books for both of us and to pass on the tradition of exploring shelves to find new things to read. The nearest branch was located in a converted 1903 school building. Our footsteps echoed as we walked down the wood floor until we reached the old door that creaked as we opened it. Inside was the room that housed the library. While small in size, it offered a good selection that was regularly rotated with other books from the library system, as well as Children’s Story Time every Wednesday afternoon. Several years later, a new branch was built, replacing the cramped space in the school building and providing a larger selection of books, plenty of room to sit and read, and ample parking. It was wonderful to be able to find more books close to home, yet I missed the coziness of the previous location, perhaps a reminder of the small library I had frequented as a child.

Moving to Daytona Beach, I quickly got a library card and took advantage of other City Island branch, Volusia County Librarythings the local library offered: free wi-fi when my apartment didn’t have it, a quiet place to work, and DVDs to borrow and watch. Even after I moved and had internet access, I continued using the library, both in person to check out books, and from my computer at home to download books to read on my Kindle. Like many things, I took it for granted, thinking the library would always be there. Then Hurricane Irma blew through in the early morning hours of September 11, 2017, the rain and tidal surge flooding many buildings downtown, including the local library that I use. Seven months later, it is still closed, and I have missed having a library close by, being able to stop in and check out books to take home and browse the shelves of books for sale to find new treasures for my collection.

The latest report is the library plans to reopen in May. I hope so. Libraries have always been in my life, playing a variety of roles as my life has changed. I hope there is always a library nearby.

What role have libraries played in your life?

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here – http://eepurl.com/c7zsvX

*The photo of my hometown library in Camden, Arkansas was taken in late December 2010. Six months later, the library caught fire one night and was destroyed. The library was rebuilt in a new location.

 

Jelly Beans

Easter morning Momma would wake us, telling my sister and me to get up because the Easter Bunny had come and left behind eggs for us to find. We’d hurriedly get dressed in our new Easter outfit of spring dress and white shoes. Some years the temperature outside felt more like winter than spring, and we would add a sweater or coat; other years were rainy, meaning the eggs had been hidden inside. Then there were the years that were just right – sunny and warm, the air filled with the scent of blooming spring flowers.

Grabbing our Easter baskets filled with green Easter grass, we’d excitedly hurry outside, and begin searching our large yard among the clumps of daffodils, in lower crotches of the apple trees, and beneath the giant oaks whose gnarled, weathered roots protruded from the ground, creating the perfect space to cradle an Easter egg. It didn’t take us long to fill our baskets with hard-boiled eggs, dyed a rainbow of pastel colors, and for the more brightly colored plastic eggs that pulled apart to reveal jelly beans, one of my favorite Easter treats.

I’ve always been more of a chocolate eater when it comes to candy, so I’m not sure why I looked forward to jelly beans. Maybe it was because I didn’t eat them very often. Maybe it was the sweet taste of the different flavors: grape, lemon, orange, lime, and cherry. Perhaps it was the slight crunch of the outer shell that gave way to the jelly center. Whatever the reason, I always looked forward to finding them on Easter morning.

Sometimes I ate them one at a time, slowly savoring the flavors. Other times, I put two of the same flavor in my mouth, creating a stronger flavor. I also experimented with different flavor combinations to see what they would taste like. While my favorites have always been red cherry and green lime and I would save a couple of each to eat last, I enjoyed all of them, gladly taking the black licorice-flavored ones my sister didn’t like.

As my sister and I got older, hunting eggs was replaced by receiving an Easter basket holding a chocolate Easter Bunny and plastic eggs filled with jelly beans. I occasionally ate jelly beans occasionally after that, especially after Jelly Belly jelly beans were introduced in 1976. I was fascinated that jelly beans really could taste like peanut butter, root beer, and buttered popcorn. Smaller than traditional jelly beans, it was easy to put several in your mouth at once, the package even giving flavor combinations to enhance the experience.

—————————————————————————–

One Sunday in February when I was 28, I woke up with a throbbing, pounding pain above my left eye. Unlike any headache I had ever experienced, the intense pain drained my energy and left my stomach queasy. Aspirin didn’t help, and I could only escape the pain by going to sleep. The next day my doctor diagnosed it as a migraine.

It was the first of many, coming every other month and lasting for three days. After trying several prescriptions, I eventually found that over-the-counter medicines provided enough relief to allow me to work and that keeping food in my stomach eased the queasiness. What I craved most was something sweet, the sugar perhaps giving me some energy when I hurt so badly, and after trying gumdrops, candy corn, M&M’s and other chocolates, I found that traditional jelly beans provided the most relief. And it had to be traditional jelly beans, not Jelly Belly jelly beans, the flavors from my past giving the most relief.

My migraines still come, but with less frequency and intensity. I still find it helps to keep food in my stomach, but no longer crave jelly beans. I am also trying to cut back on sugar, so I rarely buy them, or any candy, these days. But every so often, I walk down the aisle in the grocery store, notice the rows and rows of candy, and see the bags of colorful jelly beans hanging there. I smile, recall enjoying them on Easter mornings, and also finding relief from migraine pain. Maybe it is time for a treat, I think. So I grab a bag, put it in my cart, and look forward to enjoying the sweet taste of jelly beans.

Click here to listen to the audio version of this story.

Click to subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers.

Daffodils

“Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”
W
illiam Wordsworth (1770-1850)

The dirt road rises and the dense woods open to reveal the cleared land where our house and yard sit. Row upon row of bright yellow daffodils blanket the hill beside the road and driveway, a guide to the entrance. Even though there is still a chill in the air, I excitedly think “it is spring!”

A second large patch of daffodils decorates our backyard. When in bloom, they cover almost half the grassy area where I practice cartwheels and round offs. Daffodils also circle a large oak tree and are scattered in clusters around the yard.

Daffodil is the common name for any of the varieties that fall within the Narcissus genus, a member of the Amaryllis family. Thought to have originated in the woods and meadows of southern Europe, particularly the Iberian Penninsula, and North Africa, they spread out from there reaching Asia by the 10th century. Their popularity grew in Europe after the 16th century and they were the subject of poems by William Shakespeare and Willliam Wordsworth. Settlers brought them to the American colonies, and today they can be found throughout the United States.

“Daffodils,
That come before the swallow does, and take
The winds of March with beauty.” 
William Shakespear (1564-1616)

When I was about seven Aunt Kate had me help her plant a small row of daffodil bulbs in an empty space between two outbuildings we used for storage. I helped her dig out a trough and watched as she planted the first bulb, showing me how to correctly place it. She had me plant the remaining 8 or 9 bulbs, then fill in with the dirt we had dug out. Handing me the metal watering can, she told me to give them a good soak to help pack down the dirt and set the bulbs. (Tips for planting and growing your own daffodils.)

The next spring, like magic, the leaves and buds appeared, opening their trumpet-shaped blooms a few days later. I was excited to have planted something that actually bloomed, not realizing that daffodils are some of the easiest flowers to grow. Seeing the daffodils return each spring always brought a smile to my face.

 

Daffodils have a long history of breeding and by 1739 Dutch nursery catalogs listed 50 different varieties available. Today there are between 40-200 different daffodil species and 25,000 hybrids registered in a 13 part classification system.  I had no idea daffodils came in so many varieties even though Aunt Kate once tried to teach me the different ones that grew in our yard. I only remember her pointing out jonquils, buttercups (which actually are not daffodils), and my favorite name, the double daffodil “Scrambled Eggs”, whose center does indeed resemble scrambled eggs.

I often walked among the rows of daffodils, picking a few and catching a whiff of the scent in the spring breeze. Bending down to sniff individual blooms, I noticed some were stronger than others. When I was 16, I picked handfuls of daffodils, stuffed them into a wide-mouth vase and placed them on the nightstand beside my bed, a cheery sight when I entered my room. Laying in bed that night, I noticed the scent was rather strong with so many blooms crammed together, and I woke the next morning almost overpowered from the scent filling my nose and tickling my throat. Still, I loved it and kept them there as long as possible, removing dead ones, and dusting up the yellow pollen that coated the table each day.

The daffodils would bloom for a few weeks unless a late freeze or frost killed them. As the blooms died, we would deadhead them, pulling off the dried, shriveled, brown heads. The leaves stayed green for a few weeks, but once they began to yellow Daddy would mow them down, allowing the bulbs to begin creating the flowers for the next year.

After Momma and Daddy sold the house and moved to town, Momma planted daffodils around their new yard. Not only was she carrying on the family tradition, she was also celebrating the annual Daffodil Festival in my hometown of Camden, Arkansas. Long associated with spring festivals, daffodils are celebrated annually in other parts of Arkansas and throughout the United States.

I don’t know if the daffodils, especially the small row I planted, continue to bloom around the old house. If they do, I hope the new owners enjoy them. I miss seeing them each spring, yet spending most of my adult years renting or moving didn’t make it feasible to plant my own. Maybe now is the time to change that. Daffodils grow in zones 3-10, and while there is mixed information on how well they do in Florida, I am in zone 9a so it is worth a try. Time to take a look at what is available, order a dozen or so bulbs, plant them around the yard and renew the tradition of welcoming spring with daffodils.

Sources:
American Daffodil Society, https://daffodilusa.org/
Southern Living, https://www.southernliving.com/garden/flowers/daffodil-flower-facts
Todayshomeowner.com, https://www.todayshomeowner.com/whats-the-difference-between-daffodils-jonquils-and-buttercups/
Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(plant)

Click here to listen to the audio version of this story.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here – http://eepurl.com/c7zsvX

 

Full Moon Magic

Today is a full moon. For centuries the full moon has been blamed for madness, werewolf transformations and an increase of strange behavior (based on stories from First Responders and Emergency Room workers). While there isn’t scientific evidence to support these beliefs, the stories continue.

For me, however, the full moon has always been magical. Waking up as a child to the light of the full moon streaming in through my bedroom windows, I would look around the room, amazed at how much light there was in the dark room. It seemed as bright as the sun – it is sunlight reflected off the moon’s surface after all – but the light is different, subtler, softer. When I got older, I realized that under a full moon I could walk around outside without the need for a flashlight. I have a friend who makes it a point to take a walk under the light of the full moon each month, soaking in its magic. I like this idea, and if I can’t walk, I will stand outside and look up, the light of the full moon shining on my face.

—————————————————————————————————————–

My favorite memories, however, are from when I lived aboard my sailboat. Here’s that story:

I crawl into the berth at the back of the boat and settle in for the night. Looking up, I can see out the open hatch. While the lights from the marina block out most stars, I can see the backstay running from the top of the mast to the stern of the boat just behind my bed.

A breeze moves the boat, gently rocking me to sleep. A few hours later, I wake up and realize my cabin is filled with light. Looking up through the hatch, I see the full moon, perfectly positioned to shine on my face. It is only a few days each month that the moon is in the right position for this to happen. Mentioning this to a friend, she asks why I don’t close the hatch, and maybe even cover it, to prevent the light from waking me. Because I like the moonlight on my face, I reply. It is only a few days each month, and I enjoy lying there, in the quiet of the night, watching the moon.

The return of the full moon reflects the rhythms of nature, marking the passage of time. I reflect on what has happened in the past month, when the moon last visited during the night, and wonder what is to come in the next.

Those thoughts float through my head as the moon slowly moves away from my face. Sleep returns until the light of the sun begins filling the cabin. Another reminder of the rhythms of nature, the passage of time. A new day begins. And before I know it, enough days will pass, and the full moon will return.

Click here to listen to the audio version of the story.

Click here to sign up for Updates for Curious Minds, my monthly newsletter.

Sweetheart Valentines

Our classroom was filled with restless children, ready to get started. Before the party could begin, however, we had to make a container to put our Valentines in.

Taking out an old shoe box brought from home, we’d first cut a slot into the box top so the Valentine cards could be slipped in. I don’t recall any injuries, which is amazing considering twenty-something awkward, excited kids were using scissors. Next, we’d wrap the box and top in craft paper, then decorate it with an assortment of construction paper, ribbons, crayons, paper doilies, and glitter.

Hearts were made by folding a piece of construction paper in half, then cutting half a heart along the fold. When opened up, it made a whole, symmetrical heart – something I could not do otherwise. Paper doilies could be left whole, glued on, and adorned with the construction paper hearts, or cut into pieces and scattered about the box. Crayons added further decoration and as did a squeeze of glue sprinkled with glitter. I can only imagine the mess left for the janitors to clean up later that afternoon.

Once finished, we’d proudly place them on our desks, pull out the Valentine cards we’d brought from home, and slip one into the box of every other kid in class. No one was to be left out, even the snot-nosed kid who was always picking on me. Most of us gave simple Valentine cards purchased in packages, but sometimes we’d receive something extra. The Valentine card might have a sucker inserted into holes that pierced the paper or, if we were lucky, receive a box of Sweetheart candies.

These heart-shaped candy wafers were packaged in small, rectangular boxes with a heart-shaped window on the front, allowing a view of the candies inside. On the back was another heart with space for writing the name of who it was To and From. The pastel-colored candies were printed with Valentine Day sayings such as Be Mine, Love You, and Kiss Me. They were easy to chew for a quick sugar-rush, but if you had the patience, you could suck on them for a few minutes and savor their tangy sweetness as they melted on your tongue. There were other goodies to enjoy at the party that followed so I’d save mine to eat on the way home, or for a treat the next day.

Sweetheart candies are still around, but with a few changes. In 2010 the formula was changed to produce a softer candy in more vivid colors and with a more intense and sour flavor. The sayings printed on them have evolved as well, and now include Text Me, You Rock, and Tweet Me, all reflections of the current times. It doesn’t matter how they look and taste now. Just seeing the boxes of Sweetheart candies takes me back to my school days, when Valentines was a day of awkwardly delivering Valentine cards to classmates, hurrying back to my desk to see what I had received, and savoring the Sweetheart candies.

You can listen to the audio version here.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers.

Cardinals

Seeing cardinals throughout my life.Sometimes, when I bend down and look under the awning over the bathroom window I can see him. A male cardinal sitting near the top of the neighbor’s tree. A bright shock of red that stands out against blue sky and green leaves, that also provides much-needed color on gray days.

The tree is often a bother, dropping small leaves that land among the small lava rocks that border the patio. It seems I am constantly picking them up. Yet, that tree gives the cardinal a place to land so that I can see him, a sight that always makes me happy.

My great aunt began every day feeding the squirrels and birds that filled our yard. First, she would throw birdseed on the ground and placed it in feeders. As the birds began to arrive to eat, she’d crack open the pecans to feed the squirrels that would take them from her hand. Of the numerous birds that arrived, the red feathers of the male cardinal were the easiest to recognize, and the first bird I could identify.

Many years later, I moved to Memphis and discovered that a bush outside the garage was home to a male and female cardinal. After watching them flying in and out of the bush, I carefully pulled back the branches and discovered the nest they were building. A careful look a few weeks later revealed three pale, speckled eggs. Then one day I walked by the bush and was surprised as a flash of red flew out of the bush, just missing me. The male cardinal was warning me to keep my distance from the featherless babies that now inhabited the nest.

I moved a mile or so away a couple of years later. Sitting on my back patio, I enjoyed the variety of birds that flew by: mockingbirds, robins, blue jays, and cardinals. I often wondered if those cardinals were related to the ones who built the nest in the bush by the garage of my former home.

I don’t see as many cardinals in Florida. They don’t stop at the birdbath outside the living room window, perhaps because it is often filled with mockingbirds, doves, finches, small blackbirds, and the occasional woodpecker. So anytime I do see them, whether on the utility lines behind the house or perched atop the neighbor’s tree, it is a happy sight.

Click here to listen to the audio version.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here.

Gray Days

It has been cloudy and cold this entire month. I moved to Florida to get AWAY from this weather, but it occasionally finds me. Looking out at the gray clouds see in the picture reminded me of a time from my past, a week of gray, cold weather when I was a teenager. This was before I had ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which I believe is part of what was going on with me. It is a short story that you may be able to relate to. 

It was late January my freshman year in high school. As I sat in the front passenger seat of the car in the school parking lot, I looked out at the gray sky and shivered.

Heavy, dark gray clouds hung below the lighter grey sky. It was hard to tell where they ended and the gray concrete blocks of the building began. Even the trees, bare of their leaves, were a grayish black. How many shades of gray were there?

It had been this way for about a week, and I wondered when it would end, even if it would end. I could handle cold if there was at least some sunlight to warm my soul, if not the air.

The cold gray outside reflected how I felt inside – dull and lifeless. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed, pull up the covers, and not emerge until it was sunny and warm, there was color to be seen, and my soul brightened up.

Listen to the audio version here.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here.

Painted Bones

Growing up in the country, we always had a couple of dogs, our version of an alarm system. For a treat, Momma would give them bones leftover after cooking roasts and pork chops, and they’d carry them into the yard and happily gnaw on them for hours. Sometimes my sister and I would step on them while playing outside. It hurt for a minute but was just a part of our life.

Until that afternoon.

I was five or 6, my sister three years younger. Daddy was mowing the yard, and Great-Aunt Kate, who lived with us, was walking around outside checking on her chickens and flowers. Suddenly, there was a loud “clunk” as the mower picked up a bone and forcefully threw it out the side of the mower and into Aunt Kate. Daddy stopped the mower and jumped off while yelling to Momma to come help. Aunt Kate had been badly hurt.

After they got her in bed, my sister and I were given the job of walking through the yard and picking up all the pieces of bones we could find, to prevent this happening again. As we found bits and pieces, we proudly piled them on the steps to the back door. When we thought we had found them all, I told Momma, who thanked me and told me we could go back to playing.

My sister, however, had another idea.

Gathering her watercolors and brushes, she proceeded to paint the bones we had collected. Nothing fancy, just transparent blotches of colors on the dirty, chewed bones. Momma came out as she was finishing, and oohed and aahed over them, telling her what a good job she had done.

A few days later, a friend visited to see how Aunt Kate was doing. As Momma described all that had happened, she showed her the painted bones. The friend looked at them 0and said, “how creative!”

It was creative to see the bones differently, not as trash, but as a canvas to create on. It was creative take something that had caused pain and beautify it. And what I felt was that since I didn’t think of it, I was not creative. I think I’ve always believed that you either are creative, or you aren’t. It isn’t something to be learned or developed. And since I didn’t have the idea to paint the bones, I wasn’t creative.

Every time I have difficulty writing my stories, my first thought is I’m not meant to be writing and need to just move on to something else. Every time I look at Instagram and see the beautiful photographs, see the creative ideas people have for sharing their stories, I wonder why I have trouble coming up with ideas to post, and think, yet again, that I’m not creative. But I am tired of holding myself back, tired of assuming I’m not creative and want to challenge the assumption I’ve held for too many years.

I want to expand my definition of what creativity is. It isn’t just about seeing old bones as a surface that can be decorated. Taking leftovers and making a good meal out of them is creative. Finding a way to bring in more money is creative. Finding a way to change your life, however slowly, is creative. Some of us may naturally be more creative, but it is a skill we can all learn. Maybe it is more like a muscle that needs to be exercised, developed, refined.

In 2018 I want to challenge myself to explore being creative. Tell myself, as often as I need to, that I am a creative person. Accept that some days writing is hard, and keep working on it anyway, because that is what creative people do – keep working and trying different things.

Let’s see where a creative mindset will lead me!

Listen to the audio version

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here.

Toy Trains

Christmas morning in front of tree with toy train on floorI don’t remember Christmas when I was two years old. Pictures show me smiling as I sit on my new tricycle. On the floor around me are my other gifts, including a small train track with a few cars on it.

According to the story, my dad wanted to get me a toy train set for Christmas. “You can’t give a girl a train set!” my mom told him. “Why not?” he asked. He thought it was a fine gift for any child. As the second of 3 boys, he wasn’t around girls while growing up so his reference point was what he and his brothers had played with.

I am sure you can imagine who actually played with the toy trains. Growing up he always had to share with his brothers, but this time he was in charge. In fact, I’m not sure if I ever played with it, and since I had one sibling, a younger sister born 7 months after I received it, my dad probably played with it more than anyone.

Twenty-five years later, my mom mentioned that several of their friends were putting train sets under their Christmas trees as decoration. She thought it was a fun idea, and of course, my dad was fascinated to watch them go around. That gave me an idea.

My dad was always hard to buy gifts for. If he asked for anything, it was something practical that he needed. A homemade card meant more to him than anything that could be bought, and in later years, his usual reply was “just come home for Christmas.” So buying him a train set, one that was his – no sharing with brothers, no pretending it was his daughter’s gift – seemed the perfect opportunity to give him something fun and completely unexpected.

The look of joy on his face when he opened that gift is one of my favorite Christmas memories as an adult. I didn’t often surprise my dad, but the train set did. It was a larger than the one I received, both in the number of cars and the size of them. After Christmas, he carefully padded the top of the dining room table, placed a large piece of plywood on top, attached the track, and played with the train set for months. He added more cars, and more track to handle them. Eventually, it entertained the grandchildren as it ran under the soft glow of the Christmas tree lights, letting a third generation share the joy of toy trains at Christmas.

You can listen to an audio version here.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here.

Candy Canes

There were always candy canes in our stockings on Christmas morning. Not only did Santa put gifts under the tree, according to our mom, he also filled our stockings and left the candy cane at the top.

My grandmother had handmade stockings for my sister and me. Each December we pulled them out with the rest of the Christmas decorations and hung them on the mantle above the fireplace. Actually, the fireplace had been bricked up and a gas heater sat in its place, but the mantle remained and was the perfect place to hang our stockings among the other seasonal decorations.

Christmas morning, after opening our gifts, we’d turn our attention to the stockings. First, we’d remove the candy cane at the top. We’d pull back the plastic wrapper and suck on the peppermint-y sweetness as we emptied our stockings to see what else Santa had brought. We’d continue sucking away, the candy cane growing shorter by the minute, as we began playing with our gifts. We’d still be enjoying the last of it while helping pick up discarded wrapping paper and bows with sticky fingers.

We grew older and learned it wasn’t Santa who put gifts under the tree after we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Momma still made sure the candy canes were in our stockings every Christmas morning. When we moved away to college, the candy canes still appeared. When we each married, and later when grandchildren arrived, more stockings were added to the mantle and a candy cane was in each one.

It was a tradition we all loved and expected. One year, my mom couldn’t find the candy canes she was sure she had bought, so my sister and I were dispatched to the store to buy more. We fought a packed parking lot, a crowded store, and a long wait in the check out line to keep the tradition alive another year.

After I divorced and began spending some Christmases alone, I didn’t bother buying candy canes. While I like the flavor of peppermint, I’m not a huge fan of the candy. Besides, I had no place to hang a stocking. So I stopped the tradition. Even now, after meeting my boyfriend, and moving in together, I don’t do candy canes. Like me, he isn’t concerned about decorating for Christmas, and he doesn’t like sweets, so I didn’t have a reason to renew the tradition.

But now he has a grandson, and I’m thinking the time may be right. I’ll make a stocking, find a place to hang it, and put in a candy cane on Christmas morning, telling him that Santa left it just for him.

You can listen to an audio version of this story here.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here.