Holiday Photos and Other Realities

My social media feeds have been filled with photos of my friend’s adorable children, dressed in their holiday finest, sitting on Santa’s knee or posed, pink-cheeked and smiley, at a Christmas tree farm. Being the modern Mommy that I am, I also take a round of holiday photos early in the season–both for practical purposes (like sending them out in Christmas cards) and for assurances (how long will that adorable white sweater with the silver reindeer on it survive while on a 5 year old boy?). And I did get my one perfect picture: JC in front of the holiday model trains at our city’s botanical gardens, smiling happily. It’s the photo that most people will see, and the one that will most likely end up in our holiday memory book.

 

the perfect photo: how sweet (and edited!) it is

 
It is one photo out of 300 that I took that morning. The other 299 are him flying around the trains, making train noises at the top of his lungs, or with his face in a weird contortion because he never stops talking.

  
 Oh, and there are about 75 of him being an At-At Walker. Because, you know, Star Wars.

 

Yoga? Nope. At-At walker.

 
I really love my one perfect picture. But you know what? I kind of love the other ones more. Because they show my son as he is all the time–full of words and thoughts and movements. Perhaps those are the ones I should be showing to the world: the true images of my boy at this stage in his life.

Because, honestly, I’d love to see the outtakes of some of these perfect holiday photos I see online. I’d love to see the hundreds of shots it took to get the sweet shot. Except for your kid terrified and screaming on Santa’s lap. I despise those pictures and kinda judge you as a parent for making your kid cry.

Looking at all my photos this morning made me think of all the other holiday realities that aren’t always as perfect as they seem: getting the lights strung on your house (and falling off the ladder and cursing the very existence of outdoor illumination); having a big holiday meal (and remembering why you don’t spend time with these people year round and feeling sick from all the decadent food); and hunting for that perfect gift at the mall (while standing in line for 45 minutes while the cashier flicks her light on and off and calls out “price check at counter 7!”). I realize that paints a pretty bleak picture of the holidays. However,  you have to look past the realities and peel back the imperfect to get to what really matters:

Like spending a whole, beautiful morning outdoors with a happy kid and my mom and being lucky enough to capture every stinking moment of it.

Like seeing your kid’s face light up when you light your outdoor lights for the first time (I guarantee they aren’t going to point out the imperfections!).

Like the joy of eating your father’s pie at Thanksgiving–after all, no one makes it like him. The pleasure of catching up with people who have known you since before you can remember, and being surrounded by your own personal brand of crazy. We all have it, you might as well embrace it.

Cousin-Eddie-Merry-Christma

There’s one in every family

As for standing in line at the mall…well, there isn’t much I can help with there. I suggest internet shopping, and then using the time you’ll save to make hot chocolate, find your favorite crazy relative and make some imperfect memories.

What is your favorite not-so-perfect holiday memory?

 

 

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It’s my “Blogiversary”!

WordPress was kind enough to inform me yesterday that my little blog has turned a year old! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.

When I launched Mama Writes Words, I was not new to the blogosphere. I had a blog but I felt like I’d written myself into a corner, and I was struggling to write about things that weren’t a part of my world any more–and even worse, I didn’t think any one was listening. So I took a break for about 6 months while I thought about what I wanted out of  blog and the experience. Because blogs take time and effort, and I knew that if I returned to the format I wanted it to be because I was writing about something that I REALLY cared about.

wanders

And so here we are a year later! I’ve loved getting to know all of you who are out there reading–I’ve loved sharing stories about JC, book reviews and getting feedback on my writing. And I’ve learned a few things:

  • It’s okay to break the rules every now and then. For example, I have trouble following a set blogging schedule if it means I have to put up fluff. I’d rather post less and make my posts more meaningful.
  • Not everyone is nice. That’s what the delete button is for. Constructive criticism is good. Meanies are not.
  • Other bloggers can be an awesome support system–and they have some pretty great book suggestions, too.
  • It is really an honor to watch readership grow. Everyone is busy, and the fact that people take time out of their busy days to read and comment amazes me. So if you’re reading, and you keep coming back–thank you.

inspire

Thank you all for inspiring me!

Here’s to another year!

‘The Goldens’ Update

Happy Monday, friends! I’ve been getting some questions about my novel, The Goldens, so I thought I’d give you an update.

Several months ago I decided that I needed to fill out the story a little more, so I made the choice to delay publication. As the story stood, it was more of a novella. When I sent it out to publishers, I was concerned that it was too short. Even after its acceptance, that feeling nagged at me. It has the potential to be a very rich and full story, and I really want it to realize that potential. It’s a good story in the form it is in now, but I want it to be one of those stories that sticks with you long after you read it.

Some people (like my husband) say I’m over thinking it. At first, I thought the same–but then I started dreaming about the characters. I realize that makes me sound a little crazy, but it’s a sure sign that I’m not done with a piece of writing.

characters

So while it’s not back to the drawing board entirely, I am delving back into David Graff’s life and ironing out some details. I’m excited to see where this story is going to go.

Does this happen to you? Do characters stay in your head after you finish writing (or reading) a story?

If You Read One Book This Month: The Lake House by Kate Morton

I wanted “The Lake House” by Kate Morton to be my feature book review for October, but I didn’t manage to finish it until yesterday, so I’m sliding it in at the very beginning of the month. 

 

Beautiful cover and I was obsessed with the floral printing on the inside cover


I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. I’m a huge fan of Kate Morton, and this book didn’t disappoint.

Morton’s books should be read slowly and digested. She is a master at creating layers in her novels, and in The Lake House she introduces you multiple generations, each with their own secrets. There’s Eleanor, who lives an entirely different life than even those close to her know; Alice, a writer with deadly knowledge she’s kept for decades; and Sadie, an anti-social detective who has been forced to leave the police force by a messy secret. And in the background of all of their stories stands Loeanneth, a country house that is not easily found but contains a special sort of magic.

The Lake House mixes romance, history, and a decades-old cold case and it kept me up reading way past my bedtime.

What was the best book you read in October?