The Holidays are laced with tradition. Family ties and cultural customs play an important part in these rituals. We carry them on and pass them down, hoping the succession continues. These are our traditions.
Walt tapped a gold mine with his “Traditions” prompt. You’ve all outdone yourselves, calling on the lovely, inspiring, heartwarming, quirky, evocative, or poignant.
The one that I keep going back to, though, is “Story Time,” by Nancy Coats Posey. If only every child in the country had the opportunity to have such a quality, caring teacher. Nancy, “Story Time” reveals who you are as a teacher, and the quality and tone of your writing hold our attention (just as, I’m sure, you hold the attention of your students), and teaches us about life. The ending brings tears each time I read it. Thank you for this breathtaking piece.
By Nancy Coats Posey
I learned quickly that while teenagers
saw plenty of videos in class
and often enjoyed or endured
assigned periods of silent, sustained reading,
whether they’d admit it or not,
they missed hearing the teacher read aloud.
Drawing from my own experiences,
after lunch, heads on our desks,
listening to Mrs. Knott reading to us,
the entire collection of Laura Ingalls Wilder,
I had fallen in love with the sound
of books, of stories.
That first Christmas I taught, then,
to high school students taller than I,
seventeen and eighteen years old,
I announced “Story Time with Miss Nancy,”
tongue-in-cheek, of course, and read
Truman Capote’s beautiful story
“A Christmas Memory,” channeling
the soft Alabama accent of Buddy
and his best friend, only friend,
going through their yearly rituals,
cutting the tree, baking fruitcakes
they mailed to near strangers, going
their separate ways to make gifts—
the same every year. As I read, the room
grew quiet, and as the story ends, the boy
now grown and gone recalls the letter
with the news, the sight of kites
in the sky. The lump in my throat
barely let me reach the end.
I knew to let them leave their heads
down on their desks. Big boys
hate for anyone to see them
wiping tears with their sleeves.
The thing I like best about this poem is the story behind it. All traditions carry a story; there own road map of life. This untitled piece by Daniel Paicopulos takes my piece of the Beautiful Bloom award.
Untitled by Daniel Paicopulos
She asked about the blue mirror we
had moved a few times but never
used, so I told her the story of how,
from the time I was four or five,
my mother would put it on the four
by five cedar chest we used as a
table, and at Christmas time, we’d
put snow and little people on it to
make a festive scene.
I’m 67 now, and through the years,
a lot of stuff has disappeared, like
lamps and photos and baseball cards, and
people, too. I’ve lost dogs and cats, some
car keys, the home I grew up in, even
my mother, who died suddenly one
September, and we didn’t have Christmas
after that for a long time, what with
sadness, and, later, war for me.
I never lost that blue mirror, though.
Then I met her, and I had very little
stuff, but I had her, and that was enough.
for me. Her family was big on Christmas,
and, after we returned from our December
honeymoon, her baby sister put the
ornaments on their tree, the ones made with
a glitter and a glue stick, the ones with
everybody’s names on them, and we were
the last ones to go up, smack dab in the
center front, to much oohing, ahing and smiling.
My dad was there, our first Christmas in
forever. It was cold, really cold, but
our hearts melted.
So, the blue mirror, remember? After
we moved to a town with lots of folks,
one where we could have visitors, we
started to decorate excessively. Too much
was still not enough, with wreaths and
themed trees and garland and such. she
said we should bring out the blue mirror and
make a scene, so we went looking for
fake snow and little trees and people
Then Department 56 happened,
and a train set happened,
and more Department 56 happened,
and I built display tables and drilled holes
and did dangerous, overloaded wiring
and it was big and grand and good,
and all of our friends loved it,
and more Department 56 happened,
and a storage locker to hold it all happened.
I think I mentioned that I’m 67 now,
those boxes and tables got heavier,
that wiring got more painful to connect,.
we’ve lost a few more people,
there’s this talk about voluntary simplicity.
Still have that blue mirror, though.
I think this year we’ll start a new tradition,
borrow from the past, bring out the older,
garage sale the newer.
But, then, there’s the crazy
and all the Santa ornaments,
and the clowns
and the reindeer
and the angels
and…oh, what the heck, one more year,
and I think we can find room for
a blue mirror