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Writing holiday memories and traditions

Today my facebook page is filled with images of military personnel and flags. Yours probably is, too, as this is Veteran's Day. The town where I live, Apache Junction, Arizona, has an annual Veteran's Day parade, complete with military flyovers and an avenue of U.S. flags. I don't remember parades as part of my family's observance of this day, but I do remember going to Daddy's hometown, Orange, Texas, to see the military ships and to hear patriotic speeches. We always went home before the fireworks. Daddy insisted he had seen "enough of the real thing during the war." That didn't make sense to me at all then. Daddy never talked about World War II, except for a couple of fantastic stories (that may have been a bit exaggerated) that didn't deal directly with warfare.

As we move into the holiday season, I already am hearing complaints from friends who find Thanksgiving dinners with extended family miserably unpleasant or who dread the busyness of Christmas shopping or who struggle with loss or painful memories at this time of year. Others have been playing Christmas music nonstop since well before Halloween.

The reactions you have and the emotions you experience during the next few weeks can be very powerful. Often they are rooted in memories, good or bad, from your childhood celebrations (or lack of celebration). Although your memories will be similar to those of others, they will also be unique in many aspects. Those memories and family traditions are great sources for material for your writing.

Think you're too busy too write during this time of year? (Maybe your'e just too busy.) Taking a half-hour here and there to reflect can be relaxing and even healing. And if you truly can't concentrate to write, keep a notebook or electronic device handy just to quickly jot down memories that bubble to the surface, especially those that give you insight into who you are or what your family members' motivations might have been. Then later, in a calmer season, write.

My list already looks like this:

chicken bogged down in the dressing

Momma's cranberry salad

alternating grandparents' homes

Minehaha cake with Daddy

Grandma Myers's horrible biscuits

my first Christmas with Jesus

tree-cutting in the woods

Christmas present lost

rocks in a can for Christmas (I kid you not!)

staying at college alone at Thanksgiving

snowy Christmas carols in Las Cruces

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