Writing Wins and Woes: What Easter Means to Me Now

Happy Good Friday everyone! And a very happy birthday to my husband who shares his birthday with the holiday this year. Welcome to my Part 2 edition of  my Easter series. In the first segment I shared what Easter meant to me as a child and young adult. In this session I share what Easter means to me now.

I’m transitioning. As of last June, I became what is known as an empty-nester. I haven’t eased into that role, believe me. I’m was pushed into it by an army tank. I did not want to become empty nested. I have always identified myself as a mother, for years I was a stay at home mom, so being mom was my stage name. I love being a mom, and although I feel like I wasn’t the best mom a lot of times, it was the best years of my life.

Fast forward to today. I am still a mom but all my kids no longer live at home. One is starting her own family with her own home, one is fully in bachelor mode enjoying the single life, and one is in Iowa. I feel a little left out to be honest. I’m shifting my perspective and looking for ways to feel close to my kids even though they are not sharing my every day life. Thank God for social media. It’s been a God send.

I digress. What does all this have to do with Easter? When your anchor has been tossed into the boat, and put a hole in it, you say to yourself, I guess I’ve been holding onto the wrong anchor. My kids have been my anchor. They kept me grounded, safe and secure. But that was not how it was supposed to be.

My anchor should be Jesus Christ. He is what Easter means to me. When I embraced His love for me, He became my strong hold. Only I let it slip into complacency. I let my family become my reason to be. I love my family. I never will stop loving my children. I’m so thankful for them. And for my husband and parents as well. But my reason for breathing is Jesus Christ. So, when I wake up Easter morning, it won’t be bunnies, candy, or even the family dinner I’ll be resting my hope in. It will be Jesus and His resurrection. Happy Resurrection Day!1535


Writing Wins and Woes: What Easter Meant to Me

This particular blog is a little bit of strolling down memory lane. We are counting down to Easter as this Sunday is Palm Sunday and I thought I’d finish off March with a couple of blogs about Easter before launching into a new series in April, whatever that may be, I’m not sure yet. As a child Easter meant different things to me than it does now. So, I thought my first blog would be about what Easter meant to me in the past and next week’s blog would be about what it means to me now.

When I was young, Easter meant Easter baskets. My mom would make me a basket full of goodies: chocolate, jelly beans, of course marshmallow peeps and the occasional stuffed rabbit. Some kids remember their parents hiding colored eggs so they could hunt for them Easter morning. I don’t remember that. However, I do remember my mom hiding my Easter basket that I would have to search out and find. It wasn’t much of a scavenger hunt. After all, how hard is it to find a big Easter basket full of treats? But it was still fun. When I was real small, under five, I remember my mom and dad getting me dyed chicks to play with. We could go down to the hardware store in those days and purchase them. PETA wasn’t around then and nobody seemed to worry about the dye affecting the demise of the chicks or even if the chicks lived or died. The chicks were pink and purple, blue and green and in fact, mine never lived long. My mom said I chased some of them until they fell over and died of exhaustion. Gasp! Remember, I was less than five and didn’t know any better.  Also, I remember my parents getting me the occasional real rabbit for Easter. One year I remember very specifically taking my rabbit out in the the yard and watching it hop right out of my arms and away. I didn’t get it back. I don’t remember if I was very upset. Maybe I thought that was what Easter rabbits were supposed to do.

I colored eggs as well. Anyone who lived in the beautiful Susquehanna Valley like I do, remembers Hinkle’s colored Egg Dye, and would paint their eggs in beautiful patterns or with pictures on them, not just dipping them in color. My husband still loves to paint eggs and will do it whether a kid is participating or not.

And of course, I remember getting all dressed up for church. The Easter outfits were lovely dresses for girls, complete with bonnets and sometimes even special white buckle shoes. Boys wore nice suits, complete with vests and ties and dress shoes. Sometimes we got special treats at church on Easter as well. There was often an Easter Cantata at church where the choir would sing.

When my children were little, I continued the tradition by painting eggs with them, making Easter baskets, purchasing the stuffed bunnies and taking them to scavenger hunts. My parents almost always bought them their Easter outfits. My oldest daughter loved to dress up much more than I did and wore the frilliest dresses, straw bonnets and even white gloves. I always put her hair in soft rollers Saturday night before Easter so she could have long lovely blond curls Easter morning. My son, always the goofball, liked to mess up the Easter pictures by making faces at the camera. Gathering with family for the ham dinner was one of the favorite parts of Easter for all of us.

Another fun part of Easter when I was younger was the Easter sunrise service at church. It wasn’t always at sunrise as I recall but it was rather early, and in the best days, it was at our local park a few blocks from our home, so we walked to it. We sang hymns, heard a short Easter message and reveled in the beautiful Easter day. My favorite memory of this time was one year when we set the clocks ahead for daylight savings time the night before, and our Pastor arrived late for sunrise service because he forgot to set his clock for the right time.He stumbled into the park looking a little chagrined and disheveled and we all had a good laugh.  After the service, we would head back to the church where we had an Easter breakfast.

These were all very fun times. This is what Easter meant to me.1016

Writing Wins and Woes: Recluse Series; The Ultimate Recluse

Now, the moment you have been waiting for; or at least the moment I have been waiting for. This is the final chapter in the series of recluses and of course, the finale is JD Salinger. Jerome David Salinger was born in New York City on January first, 1919. He was the son of a rabbi, Sol Salinger and his wife, Miriam. He went to public school but failed there so he was sent to military academy. He also studied at Ursinus College and New York University. He was first published at the age of 21 in a friend’s magazine at Columbia University, Story Magazine. He served in the army from 1942-44 where he participated in the Normandy invasion. After the war, he suffered a nervous breakdown.

He had a brief marriage to a woman named Sylvia who was quite possibly a Nazi. Are we remembering that Salinger was the son of a rabbi? After which, he had a ten year marriage to Claire Douglas which resulted in two children. He also had an affair with Joyce Maynard in the 70’s.

His last marriage lasted until his death in 2010 to Colleen O’Neill.

The military academy he attended when he was young was in Valley Forge and was probably the basis for the prep school mentioned in Catcher in the Rye. Before that book, which sold 120 million copies, he was published in Collier’s, Saturday Even Post and mostly in the New Yorker.

He started becoming reclusive in the 1950’s after his iconic book was published. He refused any public appearances or statements and basically went into seclusion in his home in Cornish, New Hampshire. He was very hostile to those who tried to seek him out and refused to participate in any biographies, vehemently opposing their publication, in fact suing one of the biographies and delaying its publication. He told a friend in a letter that he couldn’t answer the phone without gritting his teeth.

Although he only published two books, and a short story collection, he was said to have written diligently until his death, rising early in the morning and faithfully writing every day. So, you ask, where are the results of that effort? It is said that there are five Salinger books to be published sometime in the future. In fact, from research, some of these books are expected to be published in the time span of 2015-2020. That would be now, yet I could find no evidence of any Salinger books being published. Here are the titles floating around, The Last and Best of the Peter Pans, A World War 11 Love story, (apparently about his brief marriage) A Counter Intelligence Agent’s Diary, and a Religious Manual (about his encounter with Hinduism). Also there is said to be a collection of short stories, The Complete Chronicles of the Glass Family. In my research I found a book on Amazon recently published by Salinger but all the reviews said it was definitely a scam and not written by him. So I will give it no publicity.

Salinger’s letters to his friend, E Michael Mitchell have been donated and other letters have recently surfaced. Mitchell designed the dust jacket for Catcher and was about as close a friend as Salinger had. Yet, apparently Salinger refused to autograph a copy of his book for him. This is the mystery of Salinger which continues to this day.

Writer’s Journal: Worked a bit on a short story this week. I have the lay out finally figured out but only a few pages written. I got to guest blog on Melinda Moore’s Enchanted Spark blog if you want to take a peek. It furthers this series just a bit.1053

Writing Wins and Woes: Recluse Series; William Faulkner

Today I am writing about one of the great greats of writing. Despite my high esteem of Faulkner, I have yet to read a book of his. However, after researching this man, I am sincerely going to make another attempt. The book I attempted to read of his was Sanctuary and quite honestly, I found it very confusing. Onward into the man, though.

William Faulkner wrote some 13 novels, many short stories and also screen plays. He didn’t like playing to Hollywood and his interest in screen plays was strictly monetary. He had purchased a large house, Roan Oak and he supported quite a few relatives as well as his own wife and child, so he needed the money.

Mostly his novels took place in the south, in a place called Yoknapatawpha County. This place didn’t actually exist but most believe it was the county he was familiar with, Lafayette County, Mississippi. Some of his most famous works were: The Sound and the Fury, Light in August and Absalom, Absalom. In 1949 he won the Nobel Prize for literature. He was also a two time Pulitzer Prize winner and won two national book awards. Wow.

In the beginning of his writing career, Faulkner was a poet. Faulkner was named after his great great grandfather and he was enamored with the man, often including him in his stories. He was a prominent man, accentuated by being shot and killed in the town square of Ripley, Mississippi. In his later life, he was also a best selling author.

His mother and grandmother were also photographers and he took to this art form as well. When he was little, he had a “mammy” and he gave her much credit for his upbringing. and writing development. He never graduated high school because it didn’t challenge him enough.

In the tender years, he fell in love with a young girl named Estelle, but she pledged herself to another man. It was her view that the engagement would naturally dissolve because he was stationed in the Hawaiian Territorial Forces but instead he sent her a ring through the post and she eventually married him. Faulkner was heartbroken. He moved to Connecticut with his mentor. Eventually he joined the RAF and trained as a pilot. He made up many war experiences although he never really saw combat. In 1919 he enrolled in the University of Mississippi but dropped out after three semesters. Sherwood Anderson was a friend of his, whose books I have read, and he encouraged Faulkner to write about Mississippi.

By 1930 his old girlfriend, Estelle, had divorced her husband so Faulkner was free to marry her. They had a daughter named Alabama who died a week after birth.He had written a few books by this time. This was about the time he started screen writing. His wife gave birth to his only surviving daughter, Jill. He also partially raised his brother’s daughter. His brother died in a plane crash; a plane incidentally that Faulkner had given him. Later his niece published a book, Everyday by the Sun, about her experiences with her uncle.

Faulkner had many failings. He was an alcoholic and frequented brothels, yet he was a thoughtful father and uncle. He hosted many parties, paid for educations and provided for siblings, in-laws and his long living mother. He was friendly to friends and strangers but never courted his fame. He avoided interviews and even when he was filming Faulkner’s story, Faulkner avoided seeing Vincent Minnelli. He attended one of his movie premiers when it was in his hometown but refused to give a speech. Later when a Faulkner story was presented on screen, he said it  bore no resemblance to his work and walked out on it. In 1962 he died at the age of 65.

Writer’s Journal: I was very happy to have an article published this week in Guardian Angel Kids. I worked very hard on blogging this week both mine and a guest blog I will link to when it comes out next week. I also did some work for a book on mothers another fellow writer is preparing. Unfortunately, I did no work of my own. Hope to remedy that next week. Join me next week as I finish out my series with JD Salinger, the most famous writing recluse of all.910