Monday, December 26, 2011

The Write Way to Read

I asked my facebook friends to recall a favourite childhood Christmas memory.  Every year our thoughts drift, whether consciously or not, and we remember the magic.  Perhaps, that is why it is so wonderful to be with small children over Christmas.  We relive the exhilaration. 

I remember the anxiety; the anxiety I felt as a child trying to fall asleep Christmas Eve.  Many children struggled to stay awake so they could catch sight of the big man.  I knew that Santa only left presents while we slept.  With my eyes squeezed shut, I would lie very still wondering if he could be fooled into thinking I had finally fallen asleep. 

I counted sheep and when that did not work−that never worked−I would ...well...recite the alphabet, and then try to recite it backwards.  My Dad could recite the alphabet backwards, but even when I tried my hardest I always got mixed up.  Instead of getting sleepy, I accomplished just the opposite.  I was, by then, wide awake. 

I do not remember asking for anything specific for Christmas when I was a young girl.  I loved dolls, of course, and if I were lucky, there would be a new doll to add to my menagerie.  However, I did anticipate one gift like no other−a new book. 

I love reading more than anything else.  From my earliest memory, the book under the tree would be a new picture book or a story from the Peter Rabbit series.  Even before I could read, I was always able to create my own version from the inspiring illustrations. 

When I earnestly began to read, The Bobbsey Twins adventures captured my attention.  Oh, how I loved to read about those curly haired kids, Flossie and Freddie.  I read the same book over and over until the next book in the series found its way to me.

I would stay with my nose buried in a book until someone interrupted my reading.  Go outside and get some fresh air, go play with your friends, you’ll ruin your eyes if you don’t soon put that book down, how can you read without light....

There was nothing I enjoyed more than being absorbed in a good story.  I remember progressing to the Trixie Belden series of books.  Trixie was adventurous and not immune to getting into trouble.  Soon Trixie’s escapades gave way to Nancy Drew.  Nancy Drew’s character was a little more polished but my loyalties still remained with Trixie.  Yes, Trixie remains my favourite heroine.  From a very early age, I became hooked on reading mysteries.

Christmas is not complete without a new book.  My anticipation still revolves around reading.  This year it is in the form of an e-reader.  I resisted this electronic device from the onset.  I love reading but I also love BOOKS.  The hard cover books especially.  I love the smell of books.  The weight of the pages. 

When I become too tired to continue reading, I leaf through the balance of the story, scanning pages and possibly reading the last paragraph or two of the book.  That is the only way I can put it aside.  Leave it with a promise to return soon.  I love a captivating story.

It remains to be seen how I will manage with an electronic device.  Running my fingers down the screen could not possibly be as pleasurable as stroking the crisply inked words on creamy thick paper.  What will I do when I finish reading the book on the e-reader?  Turn it off and look at a blank screen?  Can I scan back through the pages re-reading favourite passages?  Re-reading the introduction to my favourite characters?  Yes, I am sure I can still do that.

I will try the e-reader but will never empty the shelves of my most revered copies−some of them signed copies−of my favourite books by my favourite authors.

The e-reader will certainly be convenient.  I won’t have to lug a separate bag of reading material when I go on holiday.  I will no longer struggle to fit a book into my purse when I leave for an appointment.  Perhaps, I will even give up visiting the library.  Really??  Well, after all, I can borrow e-books from the library system online.

I just learned that The Bobbsey Twins are available in e form.  Perhaps, I will begin anew.  Re-read all my favourites beginning with the ones that captured my imagination, back when I still pointed to each word and sounded it out as my finger moved along the page.  Is that when my appreciation for the feel of a book began?  Yes, I agree with you.  It is quite possible.

Well, my friends, enjoy the afterglow of Christmas this week.  Settle in front of the fireplace or hunker down in your favourite chair, and sidestep the blare of the TV for the quiet comfort of words and escape to a world of adventure.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Write Time to Give

Have you ever bought a gift for someone and been unable to part with it?  This year it was a leather purse.  I have had the affliction for a number of years−a great number.  Of course, I would always buy replacement gifts for my friends.  At least, I hope I did.  Yes, I am sure I did.

I first noticed this eccentric glitch when I purchased an address book for a long-time friend.  The moment I saw the book, I thought of her.  Without question, I had to buy it.  It was beautifully illustrated and had Friendship quotes throughout.  I leafed through the book, stroked the cover, wrote down some of the quotes, and then tucked it in my desk drawer.  No, I could not let it go.

Now on the positive side, each time I looked at the book I thought of my friend.  However, I did feel a slight tug of guilt.  Well, it was not as if I actually used the book.  I did not write phone numbers or addresses in it.  I did look through it often though.

After several years, I came clean.  We met for lunch and I had the book wrapped in tissue inside a gift bag.  It was not an occasion:  it was time to part with the book.

I explained what happened.  I never worry about my friends thinking I am weird.  If they have not figured that out by the time we establish a close relationship, then ...yes, I am sure they have figured it out. 

Anyway, she was very good-natured about my misgivings and thanked me, saying she had been meaning to buy an address book.  There, I felt better.  I still think of the book and remember some of the quotations.  They remind me of the childhood friendship we shared.

Then, of course, there was the year I bought the snow globe− the one with the mahogany base.  Each year that I take it from the decoration bin and unwrap it, I think of the friend I purchased it for.  We have not seen each other in over ten years.  And you see, I have never forgotten her.  The globe is special to me.  I place it on my dresser.  It is there for me to look at each morning and each night throughout the winter season.  Yes, I think of her often.  I am certain she would have liked the snow globe.

Ah, I can’t help remembering the Christmas book.  It was too long ago for me to recall where I bought it or the circumstances surrounding the purchase.  It was an appealing combination of stories and recipes.  A red satin ribbon bookmark attached to the spine.  I knew she would appreciate the quality and content.  But, I just couldn’t give it to her. 

Each year I opened the book and reverently turned the pages, thinking of my friend and remembering all the good times we shared over the years.  Our friendship was synonymous with this glossy covered book, the jacket still in pristine condition.  Yes, I took special care of this book; the way one would a cherished friendship.

She visited one day and leafed through the book herself.  Do you like it, I asked.  It’s beautiful, she replied.  I knew you would like it, I sighed.  I bought it for you years ago.  Her snorting laugh was about what I expected.  My closest friends knew.

Last year as I was packing away the Christmas decorations, I sat on the floor with my treasured book, slowly turning the pages, admiring the font, the stories, remembering the recipes, and I decided.  It was time.  I wrapped it in tissue and delivered it to her.  I could not wait until the beginning of the next Christmas season.  No, I had to give it to her then.  She could put it away and have it for next year.  I had to give it to her right away. 

This year when I took out my Christmas books, I missed the ritual of sitting cross-legged on the floor re-visiting the pages of my friend’s edition, but knew I had done the right thing.  I hope that she enjoys the book as much as I did over the years. 

The leather purse I bought this Christmas will remind me of the intended recipient forever.  I don’t think a purse is something I would gift after I have used it, but just the same I will remember this person each time I slide open the zipper or catch my keys on the exquisite lining.  Each time someone compliments the stylish handbag I will think of her.

Who could ask for a better friend?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Write Memories

To all my loyal readers−wait, do I have loyal readers?? haha−my blog will take on a more serious tone this week.  Bear with me.  I will return with my riotous good-humoured musings next week.

Last week in my blog, The Write Celebration, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek lament about my birthdays being a non-issue.  As it turns out, family and friends have many plans for me this week.  I am ecstatic.  The kick off to my birthday week began on Saturday......................

Many of you have anticipated this blog since our ill-fated dinner party Saturday night.  Truthfully, the calamity left me feeling physically ill.  I felt sick for my son and his wife.  They orchestrated a wonderful birthday celebration for me with friends and family.  Our treatment and the service at the ‘newly refurbished’ restaurant was revolting.

After thinking long and hard over the last day or so, I decided that the pompous little prince with his arrogant bad manners did not deserve any more time than the four hours we spent in ‘his establishment’. 

Having worked with the public most of my life and having a sincere love for people, I remain shocked at the appalling behaviour.  I am embarrassed for the owner and astounded that someone in public service could be that obnoxious and disrespectful. 

However, this morning I shed the gloom and re-read my birthday greetings.  I opened one of the classical CD’s and the musical notes immediately calmed me. 

I read my granddaughter’s note − I Love You Nana written in typical four-year-old fashion.  A tear obscured the upside down ‘u’ and one backward ‘N’. She printed Sophie below the message in her endearing scrawl.  Any grandmother would feel the way I do.  I should frame this card, or at the very least keep it on the table beside the bed.

I admired the writer’s bag my talented friend, Becky, designed and filled with pens, markers, notebooks, and her special wine.  Surrounded by the loving thoughtfulness of my family and friends, the distasteful memories of the Saturday fiasco faded from my mind. 

Delicate woodland fairies, scented candles, luxurious guest towels− Sheila and John, you know me so well.  Scores of lottery tickets – sorry but no cruises in the immediate future - wine, a delectable cream liquor (white chocolate−thank you Kathy and Barry), a loving plaque from my sister Ruth – I am sorry that you could not be with us but I understand - and, of course, the music that I am presently enjoying. 

Brodie, thank you for the celebration.  You caught me totally unaware.  Now, how often has that actually happened??  Marv, I cannot believe you did not let the secret slip. 

Of course, I cried when I arrived and saw my family and friends at the table.  I cried when they sang happy birthday.  I cried when I opened the gifts and I cried when I read the card from Brodie and Monika.  Thank you, Monika, for being my daughter. 

Yes, you guessed it, I am crying now.

So, don’t be disappointed that I did not give that uncouth little peacock what he deserves.  My focus is on what you deserve.  I love all of you.  This is a milestone birthday I will always remember and for all the right reasons. 


Monday, December 05, 2011

The Write Celebration

I am preparing to celebrate a birthday−another milestone birthday.  I enjoy birthdays, never worrying about getting older, only worrying about not getting older. After a scary experience four years ago, I am even more emphatic about celebrating each year.  

For me, a birthday is a time for reflection.  At this point in the blog I should include a poem.  Something written in the wee hours of the morning when I was feeling especially philosophical.  Since I haven't written any poems lately, I will carry on with my reflective meanderings.

First of all, I give thanks for everything in my life.  I am thankful for so much.  I reflect on life-long friendships remembering how as children we wondered what it would be like to be grownups.  What would we look like and where would we live.  Would we be nurses or teachers?  Who would we marry and how many children would we have?  Our whole lives were before us and we were bursting at the seams to know what the future held. 

I am still excited when I think of my future: wondering what new ventures I will explore before my next birthday.   Life is especially precious to me.  Well, I am not saying it isn’t precious to you, too.  I am just saying...

My birthday is close to Christmas.  Always has been−always will be.  I have several cherished tree decorations that I received as birthday gifts over the years.  Carefully wrapped in festive red and green paper with silver ribbons and bows.  One year I received a lovely card for your birthday in DecemberIt showed a family in a wreath festooned living room.

When I was a kid, there were no birthday parties for me.  Oh sure, my older sister Ruth always had a party.  Her birthday is in August. 

I can still picture Ruthie's friends in their little party dresses, white ankle socks, and patent leather shoes.  If I listen hard enough, I can hear their chirpy giggles as they chase each other across the grass in a game of touch tag.  They all had freckles, or maybe it was only my sister.  They drank lemonade from very tall, very skinny, glasses.  A picture perfect birthday party.  That’s the memory that sticks in my mind.  There are more memories but that is a whole other story.

My husband is not an organizer of parties.  Truth be known, he would prefer to not even attend parties.  So, no help from that front.  I don’t expect my son to organize anything.  Afterall, would he even know whom to invite?  A family dinner would be nice though.  But, don’t forget my birthday is close to Christmas.  People are just too busy getting ready for...well, Christmas.

Last year I decided at the last minute to invite some girlfriends to the house for a few glasses of wine and let’s-see–what-I–have-in-the-fridge appetizers.  It was great.

This year I am not so sure.  I planned to travel a few miles north and do some snowshoeing.  I haven’t been on snowshoes in almost−wait, let me think−oh no, has it been that long?

I could email my friends and tell them where I will be and they can join me if they like.  What if no one shows up?  I will be all alone in my struggle with alien snowshoes.  Margaret will be there.  I know she will come.  Margaret is big on birthdays, just like me.

Or, maybe I should choose a restaurant and let everyone know I will be there for lunch.  They could take time out from their shopping and meet me.  How sad I will look sitting at a table for fourteen – by myself.  No, that will not happen.  Kathy and Becky will be there.  I am sure they will.  So would Dawna, if she lived near me.  But it is too unpredictable travelling this close to... well, Christmas.

Perhaps, I should book a spa weekend for one.  I could mull over my past year while I am being massaged and oiled...  How about a weekend away with my husband?  No, he would only say, what?  this close to Christmas?

Hmmm...I could go to On The Front and order a drink – dry vodka martini, straight up with a twist, please– and enjoy the magnificent view of the city with all the sparkling... well...Christmas lights. 

A notebook and pen would be tucked into my evening bag just in case an idea for a story surfaced.  I could write while everyone around me watched and wondered why I was sitting all by myself in an upscale restaurant, sipping a martini and writing furiously in a dog-eared journal.  How sad, they would think, she is all alone and it is so close to Christmas.

Ah, don’t worry about me.  I will celebrate this birthday in appropriate fashion. Stay tuned to hear all about itAnd, oh, would you be free for lunch?