Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stockings, Indians, and the Gift of Life

By Nichole Giles

What is your favorite Christmas memory? I’ve run across a lot of contests lately that have really got me thinking.

If you read the newspaper thoroughly, you might have seen in your local publication a contest call for stories regarding your favorite Christmas memories. I usually read the paper, but it wasn’t until this year that I have begun seeing these calls. Most of them are not for prizes other than publication, and really only ask for a few short words. The point is, before I started paying attention to things like this, I would never have noticed who is writing the inspiring little stories I love to read as I eat my morning breakfast cereal.

In our writing group, we have been passing around the contest information each of us has come across. Most of us are entering one contest or another, and have submitted stories to the group for editing assistance. I have loved reading about everyone’s memories. All the stories are touching, some are funny, and some sad. But no matter whose memory the story comes from, each one has returned to me a little piece of the Christmas spirit that has seemed so elusive this year.

The same result has come from writing my own memories. I have been reaching backward through my childhood for things I haven’t thought about in years, looking for suitable submissions. What is my favorite memory?

Perhaps it is the time my siblings and I unknowingly found our Christmas presents a week early; our mother found us in the basement with a handful of her makeup painting our faces to look like cowboys and Indians so we could wear the cool new clothes we found in the bottom of a closet. This was the year that I discovered the truth about Santa Claus. On Christmas morning we scurried down the stairs to discover a teepee the size of our dining room that happened to look just like the dress up clothes that went with it.

I also remember the Christmas when I was eleven. My brothers and sisters and I realized that our parents had never hung a stocking for Santa to fill, so we pitched in our money and bought and filled some stockings for them ourselves.

The year my youngest sister was born with a severe heart defect, our greatest Christmas gift (besides her gift of life) was that she was finally able to come home, after two and a half months at Primary Children’s hospital, to spend Christmas with our family.

Every Christmas with my husband and children has been memorable in one way or another. I am hoping that this year will produce some strong memories for my children, as well as my husband and I. Maybe next year I’ll be able to write about this year and tell everyone about the time my kids didn’t want any gifts for themselves, and we decided to give everything to Sub-for-Santa.

Well, a parent can always dream.

What’s your favorite holiday memory? Write it down. You never know when someone wants to read about it. And who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to gloat about the year you won a holiday writing contest.

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