Writing Tip

nypl-digitalcollections-510d47e3-5cd8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99-001-wDisaster Don’t Have to be Disasterous

Some of the most interesting holiday events are the unplanned, unforeseeable holiday disasters.  As long as they aren’t tragic, these disasters can provide inspiration for your writing.  Sharing disaster stories is one of my families favorite pastimes when we get together.  Everyone who was involved pitches in during the retelling.  A camaraderie develops between the people who weathered the disaster.  That bond alone is enough reason to write down family disaster stories,  polish them, and if you think it would make a nice gift, give the finished product to those who lived the story.

When I was in high school, my parents had both been sick in December, so holiday activities were postponed or cancelled.  It was just a few days before Christmas, and we still didn’t have a tree.  I drove my junior high-aged sister and my elementary school-aged sister to the local church where we always bought our cut tree.

But when we pulled into the parking lot, no trees were on display, no person taking money from customers.  The only sign that the Christmas tree farmer had used the lot were four or five Christmas trees thrown down beside the lot.  I didn’t know what to do.

Junior high sis took charge.  Yelling at the top of her lungs, she asked, “Does anybody want any money for this tree?”

Nobody answered.

The trees were ours.  We loaded one into the station wagon, placed a sister in the back because there was no room in the front seat,  and headed home with our hot, I mean free, tree.  It’s one of my favorite Christmas memories.

The Christmas I was nineteen is know in my family as the Year of the Plague.  On Christmas Eve, starting with me, a stomach virus felled each member of my family until by Christmas morning, only my dad was left standing.  Collapsed around the house, the rest of us lay wondering if death really was such a bad option.

My oldest sister, coming in that morning from out of town, stayed at my grandparents.  She really enjoyed the extra time with them.  I believe the Year of the Plague is one of her favorite Christmas memories.


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