Another Christmas has passed and a fresh new calendar is opened. Now, after the stockings have been sacked, the wrapping is in shreds and all the ribbons lie crumpled in wait for the vacuum’s new belt…life will go back to something a bit like normal. I would be lying if I said I miss the frenzy once it passes.
In the coming days I’m sure tiredness will sink in. Hopefully a dash of self satisfaction for another year of “festivities well hosted” will settle over me too. I’ll be looking for a way to kick off the year with some memory invoking prose. I’ve been experimenting lately with something a little different.
Poetry as Memoir
My poet friend Marjie Gates Giffin does this with aplomb and I really admire the results. Mom’s own journey into this emerging genre, however, has come in fits and starts of childish rhymes and goofy lyricism. But, I do keep trying. And though I won’t “set it free out it into the world” any time soon, I enjoy the fun and challenge. It stretches me creatively and is a beautiful Art Form for something I do as work each day.
If you would like to try this shorter, more distilled type of family story telling, I encourage you to take a look at Marion Roach Smith‘s lovely post about doing just this. She is the author of The Memoir Project, another must-read for those who write these crazy stories with love!
Meanwhile, here is a selection from Marjie. I dare you to read it and then NOT see the quivering tower of fluffy green deliciousness she describes! I love this poem because…
1. It’s really good
2. I am not aware that it’s poetry while I’m reading it (no brain-pain involved)
3. The picture fits smoothly into my head with comfort and ease. I understand it and see the scene and hover near it as the quick story unfolds.
When I was small,
Grandma’s Christmas salad
looked green and spongy
and, when dipped by finger,
tasted tangy sweet.
It posed like a centerpiece
in a big crystal bowl
bedecked on top
with red maraschino cherries
and sprigs of holly.
Little delights were hidden
under its soft, lime folds:
tart bits of pineapple,
clumps of cottage cheese,
and best of all,
rich swirls of whipping cream.
Simply dubbed Green Salad,
the smooth and frothy Jello stuff
was as much decoration
as it was holiday treat.
With her flair for the dramatic,
Grandma bestowed it upon us
year after year after year.
With none of the flourish,
but mindful of my role,
I, too, bring forth Green Salad
for my own festive
Some of my family disdain it;
others dish more than their share.
But without it –
without Green Salad on my table,
I couldn’t have Grandma –
And delicious memories – there.
Marjie G. Giffin is a delightful poet and author of several local Indiana history books. Ripe with info and insights for Genealogy and Family History writers with stories steeped in the Old Guard and lowly working class neighborhoods of Indianapolis they are a prize for your bookshelf. Check out her listings on my own Bookshelf page.
Tradition passing down the generational stair-steps is the lovely theme here. Perhaps yours will be lovely too! And that, as always, means “Maybe someone should write that down…”