Wednesday, December 21, 2016

'Silent Night' - December WEP Challenge - Utopian Dream






It's time for another WEP Challenge. This quarter the theme is:




The following is from my Memoir Series of Short Stories, it may not be exactly the type of 'Utopian Dream' that the Challenge promoters are looking for, but for me personally it is a Utopian Dream of a perfect world, or at least one near perfect night, that has been gone from my grasp for quite some time.

While my Utopian Dream might seem a little bit strange to you, please remember, 'one man's floor is another man's ceiling'.



Silent Night


‘Silent Night, Holy Night     All is calm, All is Bright’

Without fail every Christmas Eve was spent at my ‘Busia’s’. My mother’s entire family gathered for this affair. Momma came from a family of ten children, nine of whom survived to adulthood. They were rowdy, messy, loud, exciting and Polish. We children were hyped up on candy, soda pop, and the promise of a visit from Santa.

The adult activities included the uncles dropping shots of whiskey into mugs of beer in a contest of who could gulp theirs down the quickest. Music was played at the highest possible decibel level and sung at the top of their lungs. It was not unusual to experience laughing, joking, storytelling, and even the occasional brawl; all within a few hours’ time.

Round yon virgin, Mother and Child

Momma was the only sibling to marry outside of her nativity. Daddy was neither Polish nor Catholic, but he could party with the best of them. Of course he was often the source of some major disagreement which could easily lead to fisticuffs. I could see the fear in Momma’s eyes at the beginning of every family gathering. I would silently pray ‘Daddy, please don’t get drunk this Christmas’,

Holy infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

There was talk of Midnight Mass and who was old enough to attend that year. Just another tiny aspect of this family life that left me on the sidelines. Sure I was exposed to Catholicism in every possible manner, but Daddy would have no part of their official religious observances like Midnight Mass. We were Protestant through and through. Church was for Sundays, or at least most Sundays. Christmas Eve was supposed to be a party.

Silent Night, Holy Night     Shepherds Quake at the Sight

There would come a time, shortly before the men gathered for the ritual penny-ante poker game when we children were assembled together in ‘Busia’s’ meager living room combination kitchen. Normally Momma would lead us off singing ‘Santa Clause is coming to Town’ and within the first few measures we would all strain to hear the jingle of sleigh bells. Sure enough; the bells would ring and the Jolly Ole Elf himself would appear at the door, laden down with gifts for each girl and boy.

Glories stream from heaven afar,     Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!

This was it. This was the moment the cousins had been waiting for and anticipating with glorious visions of what they might receive as an early present from that man in red. Once again, I was set apart. See, I was in on the secret of ‘Santa’s Helpers’. The excitement and anticipation was so great by everyone else, they didn’t seem to notice that Daddy had slipped away. Or maybe everyone was relieved that the cause of tension in the room had expired. I never knew for sure. Either way it wasn’t until adulthood that the secret was revealed to all. Daddy was Santa.

Christ the Savior is born.     Christ the Savior is born.

As children our minds were far from the real reason for celebration at this time. We were caught up in the circus of pleasure that only a true believer can experience at Christmastime. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I came to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. The pure love that was showered down upon us all. But in that moment of childhood, even with all the feelings of separateness I felt on those Christmases, that pure love flowed through my family and into my heart.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace.  Sleep in Heavenly Peace.

Go ahead, tell me what you think. I'm happy to have a 'full critique' on this piece. 

With Christmas being only four days away, and my usual condition of being 'a day late and a dollar short', it may take me awhile to get around to visit everybody, but I will do my best to make it before we ring in 2017.

I probably won't post again before 2017 so I sure do hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May we all be in for many more 'Silent Night's in the future.



47 comments:

  1. This was a lovely, realistic telling of a family's style of Christmas. The wonder of children changes to a realisation of what Christmas really means if you believe. I especially love your ending:
    'But in that moment of childhood, even with all the feelings of separateness I felt on those Christmases, that pure love flowed through my family and into my heart.' Says it all.

    Thank you so much for introducing those of us who haven't read any of your memoir. What a great story to share for Utopian Dreams. There's really noting particular we 'promoters' were looking for. It's wide open and you've walked in the door.

    Merry Christmas! Have a blessed holiday time and all the best wishes for 2017!

    Denise :-)

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    1. Thanks Denise, I really appreciate your comments. I'm always more nervous when sharing my memoir pieces, as opposed to my 'other' writing. I guess it's just too close to my heart.

      Glad you felt it fit the topic. I'm never really sure.

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  2. Christmas itself is a Utopian Dream I sometimes think as you yourself summed up in that wonderful sentence Denise Covey quoted. I look forward to reading your memoirs, specially if they are as entertaining and insightful as this one.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas, wonderful holidays and all the best for 2017.

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    1. Thanks Kalpanaa, I was raised by two exceptionally eccentric people, who gave me the best possible childhood one could imagine, crazy at times, yes, but truthfully, there was never a dull moment.

      I hope to one day publish my memoir, but it's one of the hardest things for me to let go out into the world.

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  3. Sure captured the essence of Christmas from childhood to adulthood. We do realize how lucky we were the older we get. I don't recall any fistfights at ours though haha

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    1. This was one crazy bunch of rowdy people, you never knew what might happen, especially after the booze started flowing. Thanks for your comment, truly appreciate it.

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  4. Some very poignant touches here. You really revealed the child's vulnerability and paradoxes of family gathered at holiday times.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year this 2016 as well.

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    1. Thanks C Lee, you comment means a lot to me.

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  5. But in that moment of childhood, even with all the feelings of separateness I felt on those Christmases, that pure love flowed through my family and into my heart.'
    DEFINITELY utopia. Pure love despite the differences. Hard to ask for more. Greedy to ask for more.
    And I hope you feel that love this Christmas too.

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    1. My parents have been gone for a long time, now, and all but one aunt, also. The cousins live far away and I don't see them much, BUT that love persists in my heart. I am indeed a very fortunate person.

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  6. I love the way you combined the memories of a family with Christmas with Silent Night. It gives a tone that accompanies your story throughout until the end. Very well done.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a beautiful walk over into the new year.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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    1. When I first wrote this, I wasn't sure why I incorporated Silent Night into the piece, but in the end I guess it was for the contrast as those Christmas Eve gatherings were truly anything but a 'Silent Night' and yet...that feeling of love, the pure love of Christ permeat4ed everything about it.

      Does that make sense? It does to me, but maybe it's too abstract.

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  7. What a charming and warm story. Very touching. Merry Christmas!

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    1. What a heartfelt comment. Thank you very much.

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  8. Beautifully told, FAE. This is the second WEP post I read that uses the past as a Utopian theme—and it's very perceptive. When we think of Utopia, for many of us it is there, to those recesses of memory, that we most want to return—or recreate. And Christmas is a uniquely suited time of year for Utopian memories :)

    Thanks for stopping over at Quiet Laughter earlier, and happy holidays to you, too!

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    1. No problem Guilie, nice to read something other than a BOTB post at your place.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment. I wasn't sure if this fit the topic, but I think you're right, Christmas is maybe, the ultimate Utopian Dream.

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  9. Fantastic how you set lines of "Silent Night" betwixt and between memories of family Christmas celebrations. The juxtaposition shows that while many people may celebrate the same holiday, each person's story is unique.

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    1. Thank you LuAnn. I didn't know it at first, but that juxtaposition is exactly what I was going for.

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  10. I liked this combination of a song (which triggers lots of memories) and the story. It brought to mind many large family gatherings I attended when I still lived at home. I found the story flowed well. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. Thanks D.G., I appreciate your comment. While that song is familiar to almost all of us, we each have our own distinctive family gathering memories. so glad to hear this flowed well. At times when I'm working on the memoir,I get ahead of myself.

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  11. I could see each scene playing out and recall similar memories. Details that I tried to recreate for my own children. Those feelings of love, joy, surprise and of course those unique family incidents that make it truly personal. Great piece! Silent Night is my favorite song of the season!

    Thank you for participating in the WEP challenge!

    Wishing you and yours a truly lovely Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

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    1. Thank you AND Denise for putting together and keeping the "WEP Challenge up and running. I am really enjoying myself and the opportunity to let some of my writing see the light of day.

      I also appreciate your comment, so glad I was descriptive enough that you could actually see each scene. They are so vivid in my memory, but I'm never sure if I convey that well.

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  12. A critique you say
    okay from little old me
    A story will written
    with one’s heart set free
    Each line I read
    could be a quote
    So I'll sing these two lines
    just clear my throat

    Christ the Savior is born
    Sleep in Heavenly Peace

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    1. Appreciate your comment in verse. I love to hear those too words 'well written', a true joy the the writer's heart.

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  13. NITRO ~
    Boilermaker drinking contests, music played at the highest possible decibel level and sung at the top of lungs, laughing, joking, storytelling, and even the occasional brawl?

    Dang! Sounds like fun. In fact, it sounds exactly like a typical Wednesday morning at the Bay Street house. Ha!-Ha!!

    Very nice story. I liked it. It made me want to be there ...(again). Maybe we could hypnotize ourselves back, somewhere in time. (Just be sure we empty our pockets of all change first! Don't need no "bad pennies" coming back and spoilin' it all, eh?)

    I'll be the guy telling all the Pollock jokes, just to take some of the heat off your dad.

    OK, ready? "A meathead, a dingbat, and Sammy Davis Junior walk into a bar and..."

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. I thought you might like this one. Had no idea it was so reminisent of your younger days. Ha, ha, ha!

      'Somewhere In Time', that sounds nice, but definitely be careful of those pennies. Unfortunately once you achieve a Utopian Dream like THAT, it's impossible to return to, if you allow yourself to be pulled from it.

      Yeah, those jokes could definitely get you at fat lip at one of my family gatherings. Ha!

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  14. A beautiful experience of childhood Christmas recalled. Very well narrated - thank you for sharing your memoir. Wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2017.

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  15. Very nice piece, as always. Thanks for the invitation.

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  16. When you're a kid, you don't understand the real reason, just the magic of the season.
    Some wild Christmas parties at your house!

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    1. So true about children and understanding.

      I came from a 'Wild Bunch', but all in all I wouldn't have traded a minute of it.

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  17. Aww, this is a wonderful piece. I'm glad you shared this story. Very moving.

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    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comment. It's s little scary sharing true things from your own life.

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  18. An interesting story and so different from mine. I enjoyed it.
    Nancy

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    1. The reality of memoir (at the remembered reality) makes for some very different stories, eh? Glad you liked it.

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  19. As someone who grew up far away from extended family (it was just my parents, my brother, and me), I have a special fondness for stories of big family Christmas gatherings. This was an especially nice one. Thank you. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Ah, L.D., I really appreciate you stopping by at this busy time of year. I'm especially glad you liked it. It's kind of hard for me to share these memoir shorts, they are so personal. I was an 'only child' myself, but not without a whole lot of 'extended family'.

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  20. FAE -

    I'm glad I stopped by to check on your blog. I kinda thought you'd just ceased for a time, and here you are with a lovely and intimate Christmas story! I really, truly enjoyed it.

    It was vastly different from my own childhood Christmases. I have a very small extended family and so our gatherings were pretty small. They also were generally teetotalers. One grandfather was an alcoholic, but he died when I was 2. After I was old enough to remember anything, only my uncle (I only had one) drank, and he did not drink around us. Oh... my step grandpa had ONE cocktail daily, just before dinner. It was small Tom Collins (whatever that is.) We were a quiet group, and it was fun to read about the rowdy, large gathering that you experienced each year.

    I have to be careful in thinking about the past... I just might want to reside there permanently.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, especially during such a busy time of year. I've taken to blogging twice a month. Once on the first Wednesday for the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) and one other time on some random issue. I have been participating in the WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) challenge which runs about every two months and enjoying it. give me some time to hone my short story skills.

      I too need to tread lightly when writing, thinking, and reliving the past, for it is so easy to get caught up in what was for the most part a delightful time of my life.

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  21. Hello,
    I am just dropping by to congratulate you. You wrote a beautiful story. I read it again today and the enjoyment was still there.
    I truly wish you much success with your writing in 2017.
    The best is yet to come.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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    1. Thank you, so much. These memoir pieces are the hardes for me to share. Exposing these snippets of myself and my family are so much more difficult than hiding behind fictious characters. Therefore the accolades and encouragement mean so much more,

      I've been trying to leave a comment at your space and for some reason your page doesn't consider my URL valid, or maybe it's just me. Dumb blonde here. At sandy rate congratulations to you, I found your piece as wonderful the second time around as the first.

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  22. I too am dropping by to congratulate you. Loved your story, and hope that love continues to bless you and your memories.

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    1. EC, you are to kind. Thank ou so much for the encouragement.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. Congratulations on the runner-up win, FAE! Well deserved. I loved your piece, and look forward to reading more this year. Happy 2017!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

    Ooops... Had to delete my previous comment because something in the copy-paste for my blog link went very, very wrong :D Sorry about that!

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