Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

Did you submit a story for the Advent group-writing project
hosted by The High Calling?

Olive Tree submitted her story about Christmases past and present,
including Christmas in Turkey!
You can read it by clicking on this link: Celebrating Life Every Day!

Diana Trautwein submitted her Advent story, too, and you'll enjoy reading it.

In October, the annual five-month rainy season ended after dumping 150 inches.

A few weeks later, under 100-degree temperatures, bushes, trees, and untamed jungle lost their leaves.

From sunrise to sunset, hot wind blew across the llanos from Brazil, stirring up spicy fragrances of sun-baked grass.

Immense open stretches simmered.

Muddy paths and tracks turned rock-hard.

And one day in December, 1976, while I walked one of those sun-cracked tracks and that heavenly fireball cooked my skin, the school principal—rotund, fifty-something—puttered up to me on her rust-red motorbike and declared, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”

She looked at me for a few seconds and then laughed—I’m sure my face betrayed my thoughts. I bit my tongue to keep from blurting out: This looks like Christmas? You’ve gotta be kidding!

To me, Christmas looks like frost-covered evergreens and frozen puddles. Heavy coats, scarves, mittens, boots. Runny noses. Sledding. Fireplace fires. Ice skating. Skiing.

I learned a lesson that hot, dry December day: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” means different things to different people. To the school principal, a sun-bleached landscape and blistering equatorial wind signaled she’d soon celebrate Christmas.

When you hear those familiar old words, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” what do you picture?

Some of you live in faraway lands—perhaps on the mission field or in the military—and your Christmas looks nothing like scenes North Americans see on Christmas cards or in movies or TV commercials.

At The Gypsy Mama,* Lisa-Jo Baker writes, “… I grew up in a country where Christmas meant hot and sun-burned and the beach. All this even when the shopping malls were still bursting with the strains of, ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.’ And no matter how many years I live away from South Africa, I always miss the hot and the acacia trees and the flaming sunsets.”

What does your Christmas look like?

Morley Callaghan is right: a writer watches.

A writer looks. A write sees.

This holiday season, look around. Notice details you might take for granted after all these years. Take a fresh look and capture those sights for your memoir because a generation or two from now, your memoir’s readers might be amused to learn what your Christmases were like.

Pull out old photos of Christmases past, and those of your parents and grandparents. Examine them. Take in details and find words for them. Write them into your rough drafts. They will add color, texture, and enjoyment for your readers.

Have you written a story about Christmas for your memoir?
If so, send me your vignette
by this coming Saturday
that’s December 10
and I’ll select one to publish here
the week before Christmas.
See all the details in my November 12 post at this link:

*Resources and related posts:
The Gypsy Mama, Liso-Jo Baker,


  1. When I was in college, My sister and I always put on Christmas music when it rained and was muggy! People thought we were crazy

  2. Hi, Shanda, good for you and your sister! No, you weren't crazy! And just think -- you were creating great memories for all these years later. :)