Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Memories

My son won a turkey at his middle school's Turkey Trot race this past week. He's not one to get overly excited about things, but he was pretty darn pleased that he'd won his own Thanksgiving turkey. I have no doubt that this accomplishment will stay with him for a long time to come. This is the stuff of which childhood memories are made.

When he arrived home after school, I listened eagerly to his rendition of the day's events: running in the pouring rain, breaking through the ribbon at the finish line, carrying his prize turkey home on the bus. As a writer, naturally my thoughts turned to how these events would play out in a Thanksgiving story.

Holiday stories have always been a favorite of mine, and for one simple reason: the setting is already there. The sights, sounds, smells, feels, and tastes are locked deep in the minds of the vast majority of readers. They already know the slimy feel of pumpkin guts, the heart-stopping boom of fireworks, the minty coolness of candy canes. With just a little nudge from the writer, the reader is transported into the rich world of his own memory. The story setting becomes that much more real, because it's formed from the reader's own experience.

Besides providing an idea for a future story, this event led me on a trip down memory lane and my own cherished holiday memories. I thought of the coconut-covered lamb cake that my grandmother baked each Easter, the excitement of finding a Secret Santa gift hidden under my pillow, and parading down the halls of my elementary school in a handmade Halloween costume. It reminded me of the importance of traditions, and that my children will carry with them the memory of our own family traditions for the rest of their lives.

Turkey Trot entrance fee: two canned goods. Turkey Trot prize turkey: $14. A treasured holiday memory: priceless.

Your turn: What is your favorite holiday memory?

Until next Sunday, happy writing, and may your coffee pot never run dry.