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Who Wrote It? 2023

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

This year's MMW holiday party was a wonderful success! We had a great turnout and once again members stepped up to create imaginative stories that left us all guessing, who wrote it! Well, the mystery is over, and below you can read all the stories with the authors names revealed. Enjoy, and happy holidays to all!


Red STOP Sign by Ginny Haller


Kids and parents walk along the sidewalk from the elementary school towards my corner. I step off the curb, look both ways, and hold up the big red STOP sign. The cars stop and the kids traverse the crosswalk. I watch for the next bunch to approach. Feeling like an eyesore in my yellow vest and the ugly yellow hat that buries my beautiful hair, I’m always surprised at how friendly they are, each saying ‘hello’ and telling me to ‘have a nice day.’ I wave back and say, ‘good morning’ and tell them to ‘stay safe’.

Today is the day before the school’s December holiday week off. Although it’s winter, it’s raining. A mom walks with her son and daughter under a big red and blue bumbershoot. As they get closer, I smile, tell them to stay dry, and ‘have a Happy Holiday.’ The little boy carries a beautifully wrapped box close to his chest, so it doesn’t get wet. Since boys will be boys, he steps out in front of his mother and sister, opens his mouth, and sticks out his tongue to catch the drops of rain that run down the umbrella. Then he smiles and hands me the decorated box. I am flattered and overlook the few wet spots now on it.

“This present’s for you!” he splurts out. “It reminds me of you.”

His Mom says, “Thank you for keeping my kids safe.”

“Well thank you!” I tell them as I tuck the box under my rain gear.

Oh, the joys of being a crossing guard.

The weather improves and I head home after my afternoon shift. I continue my daily routine, getting out of my car with the big red STOP sign and put it away for the night in my apartment closet. But, oops, I forgot the present and head back to the car.

My expectations and curiosity collide as I bring it inside and place it on the kitchen counter. What could it be that reminds him of me?

I open it up and stare.

Yikes! It’s a fruit cake!



Associations by Lenore Troia


I’ve always found myself filled with a myriad of emotions as the end of the year approaches. The holidays generate a heady euphoria that lifts our soul as we celebrate, decorate, exchange gifts, gather around great food, and spread good will. But when the festivities wind down, a bittersweet mood sets in as we bid farewell to a year, and hope for renewal in the next one.


Doing an annual lookback, I’m reminded of associations that inspired me. Many have been fellow members in the writing group I belong to. They have broadened my awareness with stories and poetry that gave me a glimpse into their vision of the world.


A particular piece got me thinking about a plan for the coming year. It was entitled “Changed Perspective” and was based on the idea of using ‘One Word’ to live by instead of proposing a ‘New Years’ resolution’, likely to be short lived. The personal examples the writer gave for past years were, BALANCE, PATIENCE, PEACE, LOVE, FORGIVNESS, NON-JUDGEMENT, and ACCEPTANCE; words that provided guidance throughout the year.


I mused about what word to choose heading toward 2024. I finally arrived at one that might help me tackle another year.


My ‘One Word’ will be COURAGE, and I hope it will find me as I face daily challenges and witness a world of sweeping change and turmoil. Of the many things in life I can’t control, like getting older, unexpected illness, loss of family members and friends, war, current events, and natural disasters, I will rely on the serenity prayer, where the word is featured:


“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”


I am grateful for all the associations in my life that bring enlightenment, education, and encouragement.


And as the lion stammered in the Wizard of Oz, “CA,CA,CA,COURAGE” is what I hope will arm me through all that 2024 may bring.


May peace and love surround everyone this holiday season. And may you all find a word that will carry you through whatever is to come in the new year.


Reflections on a Vintage Christmas by Diane Hammond


The textiles of my childhood: velvet holiday dress, thick scratchy polyester tights that

bagged at the knees; slippery-lined, skirted wool coat that never sufficiently blocked out the

polar wind funneling down Fifth Avenue, carrying the intoxicating smell of roasting chestnuts

and diesel exhaust and the steam that billowed from the subway grates in the sidewalks.

Patent leather Mary Janes and knit gloves. Here was an annual occasion to dress for:

viewing the Christmas window displays at Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth

Avenue, one after the other, block after block. Different every year, but always alive with

automaton elves and miniature ice skaters, sleighs and reindeer, toys and presents and snowy

New England village-scapes with silently clanging bells in church steeples and Victorian houses

with tiny lighted Christmas trees inside.


It was all white, back then—not only the snow we longed to get by Christmas Eve, but

the window gazers three and four deep; Santa, the Salvation Army bell ringers, the tiny skaters

and the elves and the merrymakers in their automated displays: all white. Mid-town Manhattan

was like that, too. Being white ourselves, we didn’t notice; not for years. Not, to be truthful, until

now.



Saving Grace by Nancy Renko


What is Christmas? It’s tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future.” - Agnes M. Pharo

Gracie blinked away the tears but despite her best efforts they tumbled down her cheeks. She turned her face away from the others and fled.

She heard Lacey’s plea, “Gracie, don’t leave, we need you here.”

+ In the bathroom, Gracie splashed water on her face and blew her nose. She could hear the voices of her mother, sister, counselor, music teacher, and her best friend Lacey, all encouraging her and begging her to try. She wanted to do this for them and for herself, to finally conquer her fear. After years of lessons and hundreds of practice hours, she still couldn’t perform in public. Gracie had missed her high school band tryouts because of useless, blind fear. Her future as a musician required getting past stage fright; she needed to conquer it.

Playing in the “Christmas Dreams,” program, Harbor High School’s annual talent show, had been Lacey’s idea, and true to form, Lacey had put her whole being into the endeavor, convincing William from the jazz band to play keyboard and rap, as well as overseeing costuming and choreography. Lacey had proven to be a force and Gracie could not let her down, so she headed back to the green room just in time to hear the call, “Drummer Boy,” two minutes, get ready.”

Gracie, with shaky knees walked onto the stage with the others. Lacey wore her red Homecoming dress with fiery sequins on the bodice and red heels that made her look older. William appeared in retro gangster garb, a double-breasted navy suit, dark blue shirt, red tie, sunglasses, and a fedora Gracie costumed in a shepherd’s robe wore a headpiece covering her brown curls. They hoped to wow the judges with their blend of traditional and Christmas music.

After taking their places on stage, Lacey called out, “1, 2, 3” and opened with, “Come they told me pa-rump-pa- pum- pum.” Gracie picked up her drumsticks, and tapped out a simple beat, Pa-rump-pa pum- pum. Her hands trembled, but she played it just as she had rehearsed. Then William with his deep bass voice, picked up the pace as Gracie hammered it out.

Rump-pa-pa- pum, rum-pa pum-pum-pum-pum.

Yeah, I’m on the drum, I’m on the snare drum,

I’m on the beat, ‘cause the beat goes dumb,

And I only spit heat ‘cause I’m playin’ for the Son

Playin’ for the King, Playin’ for the title

I’m surprised you didn’t hear this in the Bible

I’m so tight, I might go psycho

Christmas time, so here’s a recital.”

The judges looked up in surprise at this cover of Justin Bieber’s rap. A transformed Gracie beat a dazzling solo, her drums in perfect sync with her pounding heart. She impressed everyone including herself. She knew she had passed her hardest test!


When the judges included Drummer Boy in the list of Christmas Dreams Talent Show qualifiers, Gracie, Lacey, and William cheered, hugged, and high-fived each other.

As they were leaving the auditorium, the band director called Gracie aside, saying, “You have earned a place in the drum line. Consider tonight’s performance as your tryout. Gracie, you are an amazing drummer. If you want to be a part of the band, show up for practice after school on Monday.”


Gracie left the auditorium, a different person than she had been, when she had entered. She stepped out into the cold, starry night, paused at the top of the stairs, inhaled the crisp air and let the tears flow, all the while breaking out into an uncontained smile. As terrified as she had been, she had overcome what she thought would be a horrendous ordeal only to find performing an exhilarating experience.


She saw Lacey and William waiting for her as she danced her way down the stairs and joined arms with them, singing out, “Guess who’s the newest member of the drum line?”

They hugged her and said in unison, “We told you so many times, you could do it. We knew you would!”


Gracie stopped for a moment and looking at the stars, whispered to the heavens, “Thank you, for giving me the grace to make my Christmas dream a reality."



Cinderella by Marylou Bugh


Cinderella threw her broom into the fire. The whole family. Father included, could

gather their own firewood, sweep their hearth and somebody else could lace her fat stepsisters

into their corsets. Horace wasn't much of a catch, but she might as well marry him and help in

his butcher shop. At least it would be a change of scene.


An apparition appeared and blocked her way to the door. "You shall go to the ball

tonight, and the prince will be yours," and in a flash Cinderella found herself in a carriage

dressed in a silk gown.

As promised, the prince singled her out and danced her repeatedly around the ballroom.

The hairpins that held up her outrageous hairdo pricked her scalp and the glass slippers pinched

her feet. Moreover, the prince's breath stunk as he lisped in her ear what a wonderful person

he was.

"What fresh hell is this?" Cinderella said to herself and escaped the ballroom leaving

one of the slippers behind.


After she married Horace, Cinderella heard one of her stepsisters twisted her ankle

cramming her foot into the glass slipper and had to limp down the aisle to marry the foppish

prince.



Going to the Light by Ty Black


Close your eyes to what is around you and image the words.


• [A dot] That is how it started, momentarily just a dot. Then it drew into segments of lines and

curves. The segments began to vibrate with noise. Chaotic and chaos of segments and sounds.


The jumble grew, made shapes, then colors, sounds, and ... and sensations.

Images took shape with words floating around them, finally connecting. One chaos related to

another, then focused into uniqueness. Things, people, new things, new people; strangeness

appeared, and touch.


Everything moved and pressed and blew gently, strange. Then everything stayed and I moved.

No not here. No, not here. Yes, here, warm. A chaos of words came strange.


I want discomfort filled, changed. Satisfaction; warm, soft, colorful, bright. Chaos of textures

and objects abound. Taste and smells intrigue. Clumsy control of things to move and feel with

touch and grip. Make sounds; joy, sorrow, discomfort. Word sounds come from movers.


A new chaos of images and sounds evolve, organize into relationships. Objects moving, not

moving, soft, hard, sound makers, word makers, identity, me. Face makers, word makers,

funny, comfort makers, and strangers. Move I, and they move. Control some sounds, fun,

play.


Chaos of their words, my sounds, focusing. Make words. Connect words to movers; daddy,

mommy. Connect to comfort milk, ball, faces. Displeasure words; nap, bed, dark. Connect to

me, control moves.


Freedom to move, explore, chaotic changes, sure. I want, I demand, I cry at frustration and

chaos return. I try again. Something else, order again. Words gain power, things move to

satisfy. Fun, play.


I see more. Movers, mommy, daddy, their movements I want, I copy. I will grow and mover

be. I explore me. I will be free, I will be happy. No more chaos. Like them.



Aunt and Unc by Nancy F. Low


The best part of Christmas was the afterward. The day after Christmas I

would go to Aunt and Unc’s house until New Year’s Eve.


I had six Aunts and six Uncles, but only these particular relatives were called

Aunt and Unc by me and my siblings. They didn’t need an actual name to

know who we were referring to. They were very special to us. No children

lived at their house. All their attention was directly on us, and they were

lavish in their attention.


I was the special, fortunate, one of all my siblings, and of those I had plenty.

Only I got to spend so much time at their house. I was there during all school

holiday vacations, and two or three different weeks in the summer. I didn’t

understand favoritism back then, but I sure liked it.


That house was incredibly quiet and peaceful. I could read all day without

undue interruption if I wanted. They didn’t make me feel like a child. I could

go to bed whenever I felt like it, and it was usually way later than at home. I

was always spoken to as a very loved person, and never felt condescension.


The food was exactly as I liked it. Some days I was asked if I felt like going

out to a restaurant to eat dinner. I even got to choose the restaurant. I could

have anything I wanted if I ate it all. We would even order a dessert! That

was the only rule about dinner. My parents never took us out to any

restaurant at my house. Aunt was a particularly good cook too. There is

where I learned that food could taste good.


My Christmas stocking always went with me. That stocking never ran out of

candy. It took me a long time to figure why that was! I never told them I had

figured it out though. I knew I better keep my mouth shut to keep it coming!


We went to interesting places. Museums, shopping, and to Frankenmuth, ML

to see all the Christmas decorations. Sometimes we even just drove around

the city to see the lights at night. We visited other relatives that I didn’t see

very often. Got to go to my Aunt E. and Uncle E.’s house to play with my only

other cousins on that side of the family. For reasons I didn’t understand our

families did not visit each other, ever.


I was the world’s luckiest child there, and I loved them so very much.



A Lament by Joan Beck


I am getting so depleted. I have given my all to my owner. Not just to her but all

her family and friends. Those who come overnight and those who come for a

week or more. That is when I really work the hardest. Morning, noon and night I

give them my all. At the end of each day, I feel more and more empty.

Now I have been given a back-up. A new acquisition of my owner. Is he here to

replace me? Am I to teach him? Will he work as well as I have? Is this fair to me? I

believe my feelings are not being considered. But I guess that is what happens to

an old almost depleted bottle of hand soap.


Donner Pass by Ken Stephenson


The letter had come in a plain cream-colored envelope. Upon opening the envelope there was a faint

whiff of lilac. Inside a single page of the same color on heavy (expensive) paper. It's content, innocuous

enough, simply read:


“You are invited to attend a Christmas gathering of family members of Charles Winchester III

on December 24, 2023 at 6 PM. Cocktails at seven, dinner at eight. Please be prompt.”


Plane tickets from Detroit, Michigan to San Jose, California were included. I “promptly” cashed them

in, having decided it would be more economical to drive. Besides, the 39 hour trip (according to

Google Maps) would be an adventure. So, I loaded up the family in our maroon Dodge mini van and

headed for California.


We circled below Lake Michigan, then drove north past Chicago and into Wisconsin, turned

west and ticked off each state as we passed through them; Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and

Utah until we made Nevada. It was at this point our situation took a turn for the worse.


When we drove into Reno the snow was slowly falling in big, fluffy flakes and there was a light

blanket covering the ground. We were all exhausted from the ten hours of driving each day. The kids

had gone through all of the dvd's we had brought with us and started to get cranky. It was with great

relief that I had reserved a room at a Motel 6 in Reno. What we didn't know was the motel was next to

a truck stop. That night we had to sleep to the sound of trucks. The drivers slept in their trucks and kept

their engines running all night to stay warm. The acrid scent of diesel fuel filled the air. By morning we

were ready to get back on the road.


I went to the front desk and rang the service bell to check out. A weathered old man slowly

checked our bill and seemed disappointed there were no extra charges on our room. As I was about to

leave the old fellow suggested if we were going west we keep our room until the pass was open. The

snow fall on the mountain was much more sever during the night. Snow drifts as much as eight feet had

covered the 1-80 interstate, and the Donner Pass was shut down until they could clear it. The Donner

Pass?

At my look of surprise, he gave me a history lesson of the settlers getting stuck on the mountain

until spring, and how their food had run out, and they had resorted to cannibalism while attempting to

survive. By spring only one was alive, and he was completely insane. I kept our room for another night.

We went to the truck stop to eat. Don't believe what they say about truck stop food being good,

it was passable at best. We bought some snacks and soda for the kids and coffee for the adults. Then we

went back to our room and waited.


Since we wouldn't be home for Christmas, we had packed gifts and it was looking like we

would be celebrating the holiday at the Motel 6 when the phone in our room jingled. And I mean

“jingle”, like sleigh bells. The clerk called to let us know the pass was clear but we had better hurry

before it filled up again. And there was no refund for early check out. We threw our suitcases in the van

and headed for the pass. As we pulled onto 1-80 the snow began to fall. I'm not one who believes in

divine intervention but I prayed the snow would hold off.


It was a steep climb, and I wasn't sure the Dodge would make it. Although the tires slipped on

occasion the front wheel drive stayed true and the minivan made it through the pass. On the other side

were warming temperatures and no snow. We made California, and then San Jose, with several hours to

spare and a tale to tell.



Bank Job by Kay Butzin


In her first two weeks out of teller training, Kathy failed to

balance four times. With the head teller's help, she located her

first three errors; but after an hour's search the night before,

he'd said, "Go. We'll work on it in the morning."


She dashed in late, having left home in the middle of another

argument with Richard. If he didn't look for work today...


"Good morning, Kathy." Her supervisor checked his watch. "Hurry

and process the night deposits, and then we'll try to find that

shortage."


"Yes, sir," Kathy mumbled. "Sorry."


Richard phoned to continue the argument. "Yes, ma'am, I'll check

that out and call you back," she said, cutting him off when her

supervisor strolled past.


She prepared to sell the night deposit cash from her drawer to

the vault, but the doors opened before she could finish. A crowd

charged the teller windows as Kathy strapped a stack of twenties.


Without looking up she said, "I'll be with you in a second, sir."


"Now!" the customer demanded. He slid a canvas tote across the

counter. "Put all your money in here and don't push the alarm. I

have a gun."


She scanned the lobby, hoping to capture the security guard's

eye, but young Mrs. Nelson occupied his attention.


"Move it!" the robber hissed.


Kathy's hands shook and tears streamed down her face as she

filled the bag. Her job was already in jeopardy. What would

happen when the police figured out the thief was her husband?



Season’s Beatings by Mike Salsbury


I’m dreaming of a fight Christmas! My favorite part of the holiday season is independent

pro wrestling shows! Nothing says “Christmas” like walking out of a slushy, blustery, pot-holed

parking lot into a stuffy American Legion or a community gym smelling of stale sweat and beer

and standing in line with an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest gone mainstream, complete with

pajama bottom pants, when the memo obviously said, “red and green.” Admission is a toy for

the drive, in addition to ten bucks a head, with kids ten and under free. Family date night at its

finest! Usually early in December, it always ‘tis the fight before Christmas.


This year’s holiday bash is entitled “Wreck the Halls: A Not So Silent Night,” and

features eight matches and twenty wrestlers. El Burro, the resident lucha libre, promises to

unleash a new finishing move, the Navidad Nightmare, against Rudolf the Red, who isn’t

playing any reindeer games this year. Frosty the Low-Blow Man will meet Jingle Ball Cox in a

Miracle on 34th Street Fight. Then five men will compete in a North Pole Scramble to climb a

greased pole in the center of the ring and claim the Santa hat on top for the privilege of

contending with Bumble, the Abominable Snowman, later in the evening for the Heavyweight

Championship belt and title. Deck your foes with blows of fury, and may the best man win!

Frostbite will meet the Grinch in a cold-blooded fight for supremacy, but Max is required to be

chained ringside so as not to assist his master in any way. The villains are naughty, the faces are

nice, and Santa Claus is coming to check his list twice. It’s sure to be a knockout night!


In fact, rumor has it that, under that red suit and white fur, there is a burly wrestler ready

to take on all-comers, that it’s really wrestling boots you’ve heard all these years up on the

housetop. It’s even rumored that it will be Kringle vs. Krampus for the final Christmas clash of

the evening. Will Claus continue to reign? Either way, we’ll have a black and Blue Year!



The Toilet Paper Controversy by Anna Sylvester


When it comes to controversies, toilet paper may be the simplest

item to cause arguments. Is it over, under, tail towards or away from

you, two ply, one ply, or soft enough to squeeze?

The original patent shows the roll with the tail of the toilet paper

over the top, closest to the latrine. Mony people choose to stray from

the original intent and put the tail under, farthest from the head.

Some say the tail under method works best in a house with cats.

Some businesses use the sideways roll dispensers. You never know

if the tail is towards or away from you. Furtively, you search for the

tail, only to find you are spinning the roll the wrong way. And, what is

more tedious than the small square sheets? How many must you pull to

have an adequate stack? It is never just one. This is toilet paper greed

on the part of the organization, trying to limit its use. It is an idea

failure, as use is as much, or more, than the paper on the roll.

One scam is the places that provide 1/8 ply tissue, such as the

National Parks. Although we want government to be transparent, we do

not want that to filter down to the toilet paper. Do they really think we

will still tear at the four-sheet perforation with 1/8 ply tissue? No, we

separate the tissue at 32 sheets to obtain the same amount as single

ply. This is another government money saving tactic that costs more.

In emergency situations, like a possible plague, we find human

nature panics. The store shelves are emptied. Humans feel the need to

take more than they require. Post-Covid era is the final scam. Store

shelves are re-stocked with the same, but more expensive toilet paper.

The new paper is not any different than pre-Covid. We know this as we

have not yet depleted our Covid stash!

There is so much controversy in the simplest, yet most needed,

item for humans-toilet paper. This holiday season, let us bring kindness

to our hosts, regardless of over, under, or softness of their toilet

tissue.



Snowflakes by Veronica Adomeit


Snowflakes falling from the skies.

Falling down, like stars in my eyes.

Feeling you standing near me,

My cold heart never felt so free.


When you approached me last summer,

I thought life was a total bummer.

Don’t want to live, don’t care to die,

Underneath an old oak tree 1 lie.


You came and sat next to me,

in blue jeans and a red plaid tee.

“Girls like you are hard to find.”

I liked him, cause he was kind.


But I was mean, I couldn’t see

anyone getting too close to me.

He didn’t stop, kept on trying.

How can he see through all my lying?


Finally, I asked, “What do you want?”

And he chuckled, his usual taunt.

“Can’t you see?” he had said. “1 want you.

All of your steadfast walls, I see through.”


“I see your true self, your tone doesn’t mirror,

how you really feel on the interior.”

I stared fiercely with a glare and a lone tear,

and gave him a relieved hug, fighting my fear.


Now here we stand where we first met,

mistletoe hanging; all was set,

for him to go down on one knee,

and to ask, “Will you marry me?”


The man who sees through my masks,

who has helped me through my tasks.

I can't believe he loves me-

Kissing me, under our tree.



Hummingbaby by Laura Bender


In the courtyard outside my office, a hummingbird had woven a tiny nest into the dangling disarray of vines spilling out from a basket someone had hung and then forgotten Each day on my way to lunch, I’d grab an old metal folding chair, place it under the basket and step up to see how things were going.


I’d visited the nest many times since I first noticed the mother sitting low in the tiny structure, filling it completely to keep her egg warm. After it hatched, she’d kept watch from a nearby branch, but didn’t seem to mind me stopping to see her drop regurgitated bugs into the little ones’ mouth or watch him nap.


Now this teal-colored ball of fluff was growing into his shiny black eyes and spiny beak. Only a short time ago, I’d seen him use that beak to poke out of his shell and into the world. In the last few days, he’d been sitting more erect, and had wiggled his wings. He was getting ready.


Not wanting to miss the excitement, I again climbed up on the chair, camera in hand. His mother, perched as always, on a nearby bush, watched his doting human auntie.


“He’s gonna fly soon,” I whispered, then turned back toward the nest.

I’d just raised the camera when I felt it - the soft caress of a wingtip fluttering against my cheek.


“Isn’t my baby beautiful?” she seemed to say with her touch.


That afternoon, he flew.



64 views2 comments

2 comentários


Mike Salsbury
Mike Salsbury
07 de dez. de 2023

Excellent, Lenore! Thanks for posting these!


Mike

Curtir

I loved hearing this live, complete with all the discussion of possible authors for each offering. So much joy! I love this group!


Curtir
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