Michael Hess inspired us with his three word New Year’s resolution – just be nice.  We’re asking for your own resolutions in just three words.

This year, as I get ready to send my daughter out into a world that often angers me, terrifies me, disappoints me-I want to try hard for her sake, and mine, to embrace these three words:

See the good.


Safe, in the Arms of the Sea

I know the jagged rocks exist, though I no longer have an affinity for danger. These days, I am master of my ship.  I chart my own course.  Keep to the deep water.

I can see him clearly now, more clearly than the day I met him, and I realize he was akin to a brigantine, recklessly sailed and doomed to flounder.  Raven hair, worn long and wild, and eyes that changed color with the tides of his moods.  Sometimes falcon, and sometimes dove. An impossibly irresistible, unholy trinity of leather and rum and tobacco.

My pirate.

Part tempest, and part gentleman, I tried in vain to learn the art of forecasting the weather that swirled around him.  At times he brandished words like a razor sharp cutlass, warning me to keep my distance.  Other times, though, when the winds were fair, he beckoned me closer with roses and his own brand of sugar, the sweetest I’d ever tasted.  He even slid a promise of pearl and silver onto my ring finger, and asked me to wait for him while he was away, prowling the vast ocean for other ships to plunder.

He never returned.

I realize it now.  His misfortune was my salvation.

The rocks are still there, only instead of tormenting me, I find my ears are deaf to their siren song.  And as for the rigging that threatened to ensnare me on that doomed voyage so long ago, like the gossamer strands in a spider’s web-I see them for what they have become.


Candy Dish

Tarnished, yes, and the silver plating, worn thin in places, exposes areas of base tin.  Brimming with confections, and conveniently cradled in my lap, fluted lines and floral embossing reflect generations of chocoholic ancestors, some with less polish than others.   Case in point.  My great-great-great-grandfather stole a kiss from my great-great-great-grandmother, way back  in 1907.  (And the rest is history.)

This is my first time linking up with Five Sentence Fiction.  The prompt is the word silver.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Picture credit here.

Armchair Astronaut

Christmas moon is out tonight, marvels Floyd.

Round and full.  Big as life.

Best take a picture then, Irene advises.

Click.  Flash.

Done, says Floyd.

And don’t fret Irene.  Your seams are straight.

Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol, wrote “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” We are giving you exactly 33 words to make us laugh out loud and spread some festive cheer.

Picture credit here.

Sweet Dreams

Kitchen Grandmothers

1  1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened        
1 egg

In the first few hours of early morning, her kitchen is cold, but in spite of this, she sets to work.  From her tin recipe box, decorated with colorful fruits and vines, she pulls out a dog eared card.  Christmas Sugar Cookies

1 teaspoon   vanilla      
2  1/2  cups flour

She brushes a strand of silvered hair from her eyes to better see this recipe that she is about to follow.  Over the years, she’s made these cookies dozens of times,  but she wants to make sure, once again, that they are perfect.

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

As she measures, and pours, and stirs, her mind begins to wander a familiar path.  Other years, and other baking days, when this very same recipe lay on the counter in front of her.  A lot of water under the old bridge, she  thinks to herself.  94 years worth of water.

Cream together the  powdered sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Mix in flour.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Roll out small portions of dough 3/16”  thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes.  Bake at 375 degrees for  7 to 8 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool, and frost, if desired.

In the way that 94 years can go by in the blink of an eye, this day has come to an end.  She pours herself  a glass of milk and drinks it, and then pours a second glass, and sets it on a painted wooden tray.   From her china cupboard-older than she is-she takes out a piece of her best Haviland china-a salad plate, and on it carefully arranges three cookies, and puts the plate on the tray beside the milk.  Taking the tray to the living room, she places it on the coffee table next to her Christmas tree.

Upstairs,  tucked into bed, she knows that it will be hard to sleep tonight.  She has nothing to fear though.  She has been a very good girl this year.


This, dear readers, is another Christmas story from my archives, written three years ago.  Having made this particular cookie recipe many, many times, I can assure you that it is guaranteed to please Santa.

Old Flames

When Daniel  and I arrive at the edge of the Hürtgen Forest, on the threshold of Christmas Eve, the sleigh is waiting.  An antique  two-person Albany Cutter, painted poinsettia red, and hitched to a mare I know well-coal black from muzzle to hoof, stamping her impatience against the snow like a blot of spilled ink on white vellum.  Greetings, Rosie! I hail, anticipating the softness of her nose.

For longer than I care to remember, Daniel has driven me here.  A labor of love made possible by Daniel’s pre war Ford pickup.  Relic from another era now, nearly expired and in need of last rites.  Daniel exits the truck to help me into the sleigh. Leaves the motor running, not wishing to tempt fate.  Arranging the beaver robe across my legs, he hands me the reins.  I am touched by his chivalry-but saddened that he seems to be wearing away at the edges.  From somewhere inside the bulk of my left-over-right buttoned brown wool topcoat, I produce a man’s gold Elgin pocket watch, press the latch to spring it open, and mark the time.  Half past four.  The sun has burned down to embers, leaving cold, dusky ashes. 

See you in a couple hours

Daniel nods. Slaps Rosie gently on the rump, jumping her into a trot.  Within minutes I am lost from Daniel and his promise of upon your return hot chocolate.  A lone traveler.  Journeying among frosted pine sentries.

Silvered snow is falling, glittering the canvas of  landscape like a child decorating a glue-covered cardboard star.  A smattering at first, but then heavy-handed.  I can barely see my surroundings, and Rosie, shaggy and white, appears abruptly ancient. The sleigh angles upward, the terrain gradually steepening to an area of artillery-wrought tree burst, runners grinding over splintered wood.  I rein Rosie to a walk.

From within the swirl of snowflakes, you materialize beside me. Dressed for battle, the chin strap of your helmet hanging loose, insouciant as the wide grin on your face.  Foolishly, I remove my mitten, reach out to touch you-my hand meeting nothing but a frigid void.  Your voice is pastel, almost lost among the white noise of winter.  

I love you, Margaret.  Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…

A flickering film projector image, you melt into moonlight.

Leaving ice on my cheeks.

And Daniel hanging on.

Playing the Part

Snowy whiskers, held in place by a snug elastic band make Gordon Bender’s chin itch.  But he doesn’t mind.  What matters is that he is ready when the children arrive.  To disappoint them would be, well he’d never forgive himself.

As he dons the familiar red velvet suit, Gordon’s mind wanders back to his own childhood, triggered memories now playing inside his brain as he buckles the black patent leather belt over his pillow-stuffed belly. He is sitting on Santa’s lap, his winter chapped cheek pressed snug against Santa’s beard. Scratchy, but six year old Gordon doesn’t notice, because Santa is whispering kind words into Gordon’s ear.

Now, my boy!  I hear you’ve been very good this year.  Is there a special toy you would like for Christmas?

Young Gordon appears to be deep in thought, taking an eternity before whispering back.   In truth, he is stalling, desperate to linger on Santa’s lap as long as possible.  Kind words for Gordon are scarce in 1932.  The worst year, so far, of the Great Depression.  Gordon’s father, raising a motherless brood simply has nothing left to give.  But Santa does, and despite the growing impatience of dozens of other eager little faces lined up and waiting, Gordon is permitted to bask at length in Santa’s affection.   A gift worth more to him than the charity truck and coat he receives.

Gordon Bender’s chin is still itching.  The velvet suit uncomfortably tight this season as well-his belly padding more Gordon than pillow.  Small inconveniences, considering.  Ten minutes per child, he’s been instructed.  He won’t rush though.  He’ll spend as much time as it takes, to melt each tiny heart.