Writing Wins and Woes: Random Thoughts

This is my last blog of the year and I thought I’d share some random thoughts.

First of all, I am blessed beyond all measure. Things happened this year. They seemed like they could be bad. My mom got cancer. My little grandson came into the world with the cord wrapped around his neck. My youngest daughter continues to make her home far, far away from me. My boss died. I hurt my knee in a bad fall. I could continue but…

These are the results:

  1. My mom had cancer surgery. They removed the cancer and found no cancer in the lymph nodes or anywhere else in her body despite their belief in the beginning that this couldn’t be.
  2. My grandson was born with a few, tiny complications, otherwise happy, healthy and wonderful. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t thank God for the blessing he is in my life, and for the way he has brought my daughter and I closer together.
  3. Yes, Autumn lives far, far away. Yes, it still hurts. Yes, I still miss her.  However, I’ve found that life goes on. I can be happy knowing that she’s happy. And I can continue to hope that someday we will be together again. The Lord holds her in his hand and I trust Him.
  4. When my boss died, my life was thrown into a topsy turvy whirlwind. I had to embrace a new job, even start thinking about permanently taking over this new job. I was looking toward full time work and I wasn’t very excited about it. I’d miss my husband and not have time for my family, especially my new grandson, but God had it all under control. Someone from the high school moved into the position and I moved back to my old position where I belonged. That someone turned out to be one of the few supports I have in the work place. Again, God greatly blessed me.
  5. For months after my fall, I wondered if I’d ever heal. I hobbled around in my jobs, many times in intense pain, but gradually God let me heal. I never thought I’d be able to have full movement of my knee again, but I do. No, I am not completely pain free because I’m old but I am better.       So, this Christmas, I am extremely thankful. Yes, I went through the wringer, but I came out of it pressed and clean and maybe not completely wrinkle free but no worse for the wear.

Writing Wins and Woes: Krampus

Two Christmases ago, I entered a contest at Enchanted Conversation that was held in celebration of a new book they had coming out filled to the brim with Krampus stories. Well, I’m excited to announce that Enchanted Conversation  now has a new book out chock full of brand new Krampus stories, just in time for the holidays. What’s Krampus, you ask? Some people are still unaware, despite last year’s poor grossing movie, that there is a Christmas character named Krampus, who is the polar opposite of Santa Claus. In fact, he deals directly with Santa’s naughty list. He is a very evil character who looks a bit demonic who is known for capturing and whipping all the bad children at Christmas time. So you better watch out! Don’t worry. It’s all in fun. Snag your copy of Krampus stories by following the link I included in my blog just above. And if you click on the above link for Enchanted Conversation, you can enter to win a free copy of the book. Bonus! Score!

In honor of the whole Christmas Krampus thing, I am posting the story I wrote for the 2014 contest, “Interviewing Krampus”. It wasn’t a winner, but remains one of my favorite humorous stories that I have written. Read on and be good.

Interviewing Krampus

Santa lifted his foot with the gouty toe up onto the chair next to him and groaned. He shifted his weight carefully so as to ease the pain. He fiddled with his spectacles and examined the resume. He cleared his throat.

“Of course you realize this job requires quite a lot of deliveries on one night.”

Krampus nodded. His horns clacked together when he bobbed his head. “Yes, yes. I’ve been doing the same routine myself for years. So many nasty children around.”

Santa frowned. “I have a list. There are actually quite a lot of children on the nice list.”

Krampus laughed. He lifted his wine glass to his nose and savored the aroma. Then he drank. “Yeah, I’ll bet those parents paid a pretty penny to get the names of their bratty kids transferred. Not that you’re at fault here, Red, but some of your elves…well, you know what I’m saying.”

Santa took a bite of his Seafood Alfredo. “My elves have always come with the highest of recommendations.”

“Of course they have. Mommies always give their kids high fives, don’t they? And Santa, confidentially, you’ve always been known as an old softie. I think a pair of fresh eyes on that list might be prudent.” Krampus took another gulp of wine and sighed. “This is darn good stuff. All mine comes in a box. Better yet a keg.”

Santa grimaced as he shifted his foot. “The doctor says if I could stay off the rich food, but oh well…What do you have in mind for these children?”

Krampus stroked his chin. “It’s true I beat their butts, but not that hard. No child has ever needed medical intervention. I use softwood, Santa, not hardwood. Sure, they cry out but kids are all about drama. Ask anybody.”

Santa’s toe throbbed. “It’s the stress of the Christmas season. I try to be fair but there are always complaints. We do have a toy shop, you know. The kids expect toys.”

“I’ll throw in some toys. But you don’t really believe kids are all nice, do you? No kid’s 100% nice. Not even 50% nice. If you want fair, give them all a beating, and a consolation prize. That’s what I say.” He took another swig of wine.

“That stuff about you stuffing kids in a sack, that’s not true, is it?” Santa winced.

“What would I want with a sack full of kids? Kids are loud, obnoxious and annoying. A bunch of kids all bawling for their moms? No sir, I got no need for a sack of rotten kids. Beat and run. That’s what I do. Beat and run.”

Santa cleared his throat. “But you’ll deliver the gifts, right? I want to be clear on that.”

Krampus raised a hand. “Waiter! More wine. Yeah, I’ll deliver the goods.”

“No drinking and driving, Krampus.”

“Really? And you’re telling me that red nose and rosy cheeks came from the cold, huh? And what about Rudolf? I’m sure he’s got a snoot full. Whatever! I’ll try to keep it under the legal limit. I’m pretty sure those reindeer drive themselves. Am I hired or what?”

“You’re hired. Now, where’s that dessert menu?”

Writing Wins and Woes: Facts About Frosty

If you read last week’s blog, you’ll understand why I followed it up with today’s theme, “Frosty the Snowman”.  I loved these classics when I was a kid and still like to watch them. I’m almost disappointed that at this point in time I don’t have a kid to watch them with as there is nothing more magical than sharing Christmas classics with a child.

Making a snowman is one of those fun things about winter time. I hate winter these days but going out into that snowy weather and having snowball fights and creating an artsy snowman can make winter almost bearable. Notice I said almost.

“Frosty the Snowman” began as a song. It was recorded in 1950 by Gene Autry. It followed immediately on the heels of Rudolph, which was such a tremendous success. Frosty climbed to #7 on the charts that year. The song was written by Steve Nelson and Walter Rollins, who also wrote “Peter Cottontail”.

One of the most famous pieces of trivia about the song is that it doesn’t mention Christmas in it at all. It was animated into a story in 1969 and starred the voices of Jimmy Durante, who really was a nice guy and loved children, and Jackie Vernon.

However, the 1969 version wasn’t the first animation of the story. In 1954 UPA animated Frosty in a jazzy three minute song version that is pretty funny. You can find it on Youtube if you google it.

The 1969 version of the story was, of course, made by Rankin-Bass and was the first of their animations to use traditional animation. It was produced by a Japanese company that also made “Kimba the White Lion” and “Astro Boy”, if you are old enough to remember those golden oldies.

The village square mentioned in the song is based in Armonk, New York. By the way, snowmen date back to the middle ages. Here’s a tidbit for you. Michelangelo was commissioned to build a snowman for the ruler of Florence Italy in 1494 in his mansion’s courtyard.

The sad part about snowmen is that they melt. You just can’t keep them, no matter how hard you try. But as Frosty says, they’ll be back again someday, when you create another snowman masterpiece. 1072

Writing Wins and Woes: A Spunky little Reindeer

Tis the Christmas season! How fast this year has flown. Speaking of flying, this month’s blogs will be all about Christmasy things and my favorite of all is Rudolph. Few people know how this brilliant story originated. It’s origin is almost better than the cutesy little story itself.

A few months ago I purchased a book at a book sale. Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer, put out by Montgomery Ward, a once popular department store. That fascinated me because I never knew that Montgomery Ward was the source of Rudolph the Reindeer, but it was.

Around the time of the early 1930’s Montgomery Ward was putting out children’s Christmas books to hand out to the children at the store, but the powers that be decided it would be a lot less expensive to come up with their own Christmas book. They handed over this task to a copywriter in their employ, Robert May.

This was a sad task for May. His wife had cancer and his family was in debt due to medical bills. May was a writer, but mostly his writing was commercial for the store he worked for. His dreams of writing fame as a graduate of Dartmouth college had turned to diminishing dollar signs. He just needed cash to keep his family afloat and he had to write whatever paid the bills.

His inspiration for a Christmas book began with his four year old daughter who loved visiting the reindeer at the zoo. The light bulb in his head flashed and voila! there was Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. He worked on it the whole summer of 1939 while his wife’s condition deteriorated. She died in July. His boss offered to turn the project over to someone else but May refused. He needed the little reindeer to assuage his grief. He finished the story in August.

His words were inspired by “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. As for the misfit reindeer, May himself was often tormented in his childhood because he was small and shy. He wasn’t invited to join the sports teams, just like Rudolph wasn’t allowed to participate in reindeer games. Montgomery Ward handed out 2.4 million copies of the book in 1939 but World War 2 kept any more copies from being printed. But in 1946 the store produced another 3.6 million copies of the book.

This story has a fairy tale ending. Unfortunately Robert May was still having financial difficulties. He had married a fellow employee from the store but they still struggled to make ends meet. Montgomery Ward finally signed the copyright of Rudolph over to May in 1947 and he was able to license the sweet reindeer for sweeter profits. Rudolph merchandise and a song written written by his brother-in-law and sung by Gene Autry finally gave Robert May’s family the security they needed. It was all thanks to a little reindeer who refused to let life’s calamities hold him down. Instead he soared to new heights just like his creator, Robert May. hith_rudolph-reindeer-75-poster-ab