Permission to be Corny

The holidays are here, and this is the time of year when we think about some of the core values—loving your neighbor, caring for others, giving instead of receiving, and many more. 

I suspect each of you has some favorite seasonal stories, memories, or tributes.  Perhaps we can celebrate a bit here, as writers, by sharing some special ones with each other.  I mention being corny because it’s an under-rated quality.  Corny is where we all live.  I’d love to hear your holiday stories.

59 responses to “Permission to be Corny

  1. Daddy always preferred crows over all the other birds. He admired their intelligence and loved to watch them play, sliding and rolling down the tall piles of snow that lined his driveway in winter. He attached his homemade feeders to a couple of tall pine trees in the front yard. He fixed them as high up as he could to still be able to dump a coffee can filled with corn into them. Every morning and every afternoon, he’d shuffle out into the yard to fill his feeders with piles of corn.

    The crafty deer invaded the yard twice each day to clean out anything they could reach. They balanced on hind legs as thin as stilts, stretching their lean bodies and uncoiling their long wet tongues to reach all but the highest places. As winter advanced and the snow deepened elevating the ground, they eventually reached the edges of Dad’s feeders, but there always seemed to be some corn left for the crows. As my father aged and his health deteriorated, the highlight of his days was often simply watching his crows.

    For Christmas one year, Mom bought Dad a cast iron crow. A well made replica, it was life size and Dad was thrilled with it. After he died, she always kept it displayed in her living room. It seemed to give her comfort that his spirit was never far away.

    When Mom died, my sister, Linda, and I sifted through the rooms filled with memories. We’d never shared the same style, so things that appealed to her, rarely appealed to me. This difference turned out to be a good thing when it came to choosing which of Mom’s treasures we each wanted to keep – until we got to the crow. It was the only thing we both wanted. Some brief discussion brought us to the amicable decision that ‘Crow’, as we called him, would be shared. He would alternate years, living the first year with me, the second with her, and so on.

    Excited, I packed Crow off to my house, certain he’d look right at home in my log cabin. I immediately placed him on the stone mantel of my fireplace and stepped back to take in the sight. Awkward. He appeared awkward. I moved him down to the raised hearth and brought in a couple of other cast iron pieces to help him seem more at home. He sat there a week. Never has anyone looked so out of place. I moved him to the coffee table, a side table and subsequently to the bookshelf. In each spot, he lasted no more than a couple of weeks. I tried him out on the dining room buffet, the antique ice box and even the dresser in my bedroom. No matter where he landed, I’d walk into the room and my eyes inevitably snapped right to him. And he appeared uncomfortable, out of his element.

    By Christmas, I knew what had to be done. Linda had taken on the task of preparing our first Christmas dinner without Mom. It was not going to be the brightest of occasions, but I decided to change that. I wrapped Crow in red tissue and plunked him into a sparkly gift bag.

    When we arrived at my sister’s house, I handed her the bag, cautioning her to hold the bottom. In the midst of dinner preparations, she assumed it contained a bottle of wine and began to set it aside.

    “No. Open it now,” I insisted.

    She looked puzzled, but reached into the bag. As soon as her hand closed on the familiar form, tears came to her eyes.

    “You didn’t want him?” she asked pulling him from his nest of paper and cradling him in her arms.

    “HE didn’t want ME,” I said. And I told her the story of moving him from room to room.

    She carried him into her cozy den and sat him down on the hearth of her rust brick fireplace. We stepped back to take in the sight together. He looked as though he’d been made for that spot!

    “Are you sure?” she asked hours later as we were saying goodnight.

    “Couldn’t be more sure,” I said as I hugged her.

    But if I would’ve had any doubts (which I didn’t), they would’ve been erased soon after, anyway. The next time I visited weeks later, we were in the depths of winter. And Crow was sporting a lovely red and black plaid hunter’s cap with ear flaps. That was followed in spring by a wide brimmed yellow slicker hat. Summer found him wearing a Chicago Cubs helmet alternated with a straw sombrero. And not once did that bird look uncomfortable or out of place.

    Sometimes we choose things and sometimes things choose us. Or not. In this case, Crow found a way to make his wishes known. Is that possible for an inanimate object? Oh, yeah.

    • Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

      Barbara, I love this story. I do believe that things can choose us. I am so glad that you were keen enough to pick up on Crow’s clues. You honored both him and your Father. Merry Christmas.

    • Great story that warms the heart. I have many memories that come back when I look at the oddest object that my parents used. One is a donkey head ash tray that my dad used years ago went he smoked. The other is a ceramic wedge of cheese with the word CHEEZY written on it that my mom used to put SOS pads in beside her kitchen sink. They fit right in in my office, as the wife won’t let them anywhere else in the house.

      • Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

        Walk, I love the objects that you describe here, I can just see them in all their glory. It is wonderful to have tangible things that carry with them good memories. You should take the donkey head ashtray on Antiques Road Show sometime and have it appraised. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if it turned out to be a priceless object of art? Merry Christmas!

    • Terrific story! I’ve been reading for the past three hours (course postings) and was hoping your words would effortlessly sweep me away. I’m glad to say that’s exactly what they did. Wonderful reading!

    • Barbara, this is very touching.

    • Lovely story…unique.

    • I love it when people understand inanimate objects, Very nice story, Barbara. I wish I’d written it.

    • Thank you all for your kind words! After I posted this story I had second thoughts as it didn’t seem to be exactly of the season. I admit I was a little anxious and wondered what kind of response it would receive. Proof once again that you are all a terrific, supportive group of people.

    • Barbara — I’ve read a lot of stories this year. “Crow” is right up there at the tippy top of the very best. Wonderful.

  2. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    ( I just wrote this for class, but thought you might enjoy it)

    Finally, the last leg of the marathon that is Christmas month had arrived; Megan and Scott were just finishing a few final details before Christmas morning. Scott was in the basement, still attempting to assemble the dollhouse for Amber, their ten-year-old daughter. Before Megan headed upstairs to put six-year-old Colby to bed, Megan suggested to Scott that he actually read the instructions instead of just looking at the pictures on the front of the box. Once Scott accepted her advice, it appeared that the morning deadline was within reach.
    Megan took Colby to bed, and finished tucking him in for a long winter’s nap. As she sat on the edge of the bed, she kissed the forehead of her son and said, “I love you, my little man.”
    Colby answered in a hushed tone, “I ponder you Mommy.”
    “You what?”
    “I ponder you,” answered Colby.
    “What does that mean kiddo?” Megan asked.
    “Well, in Sunday School, Miss Taylor read us the story of Baby Jesus from the bible and it says in there that after the baby was born; his mommy kept all the things in her heart and pondered them. I didn’t know what pondered meant. Miss Taylor said that it means his mommy was so full of love and excitement that she put her thoughts in a very special place in her heart, so that she could think about how happy she was over and over again. So I ponder you Mommy, cause I want to remember how much I love you over and over again.”
    “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
    (Luke 2:19)
    Merry Christmas to you all, Peanut

  3. When my children were still children, Santa Claus always came on Christmas eve after they fell asleep and left presents under the tree. My children grew up and moved away from home, and I miss Santa (well actually, I missed my children). Last Christmas eve two of my boys were home for a visit, so of course, Santa made his traditional stop on Christmas eve. The boys (who are now in their 20s) woke up to presents under the tree from Santa. Christmas morning was glorious. They boys were children again — they were excited and tore their presents open as they did when they were children, and for a morning, I had my babies back, and that was my present.

  4. I love classic gold, green, and red decorations. The smell of real spruce or pine. Homemade shortbread cookies. Fruitcake – heavy, rich, and flavorful; chock full of dried fruit and nuts. Mixing it with mom in the fall in the big metal roasting pan because that was the only container big enough to hold all the ingredients. The year I sewed tea cozies and matching pot holders as gifts for everyone. Sewing in the kitchen on the kitchen table. Mom and I made our own pattern; we had fun working together on it. The table cluttered with fabric scraps, thread, mixing bowls, and wooden spoons. Nat King Cole on the stereo. Christmas dinners at my sister’s house. Eggnog. Dad displaying the food platter with the Christmas tree made out of broccoli florets with cherry tomatoes for the decorations. The dog lying on the floor outside the closed kitchen door, whining piteously at the scent of roasting beef. Laughter, jokes. Aunt Ruth, flushed and giggling. The year my dad was home recovering from heart surgery at the same time my sister’s husband was laid up recovering from knee surgery. My younger sister and and I took Christmas dinner to them on the bus, carrying foil-covered plates of mashed potatoes and sliced turkey. The bus driver called out a Merry Christmas to us through his little side window, after we got off. It was snowing softly; mild, not too cold, one of those pretty, seasonal snows; just perfect. Mom, dad, aunts, and uncles have all passed away. We live far from family. I think I’ll dig out my sewing machine and find a pattern for Christmas ornaments. And maybe I’ll look up a fruitcake recipe and give that a try, too.

    • Beautiful memories, Diane. So special. Find that pattern!

    • I often feel that a compendium of memories is one of the most valuable things we can write. You’ve captured so many here. Keep this forever!

    • I could see your Aunt Ruth’s rosy cheeks, smell the food and the exhaust from the bus and feel the snowflakes as you were walking away. Lovely descriptive writing.

  5. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    Diane, Wonderful, wonderful memories. Those favorite times pass much too quickly, but they do remain fresh in your heart. That is the Gift of Christmas. You can’t go back except in your memories. Do get out your sewing machine and make the heaviest, most fruit laden cake ever made. Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing your story.

  6. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    I just got off the phone with a very good frind who had to put her beloved dog, Maggie down. I couldn’t do anything or say anything to lessen the heartache. All I could do was cry with Chris. In one hour I must go to a viewing of the best teacher in my life. He was my speech coach in high school and he taught me everything I needed to know to grow into my best possible self. I was so fortunate to have him in my life. I fear that my words of comfort will fall short of the comfort that his family needs right now. Porbably, I will only be able to cry with them as well. I imagine that Tears are a part of Christmas more often than we know. My tears of Christmas will be for loved ones who are left behind after their precious treasures have gone on.

    • My condolences, Becca. Being there will definitely bring comfort to your teacher’s family, and shared tears are better than crying alone.

    • This is a sad time for your dear friend. In my estimation, it hurts to lose a dog as much as it hurts to lose any family member. You did all you could do. Only time will help. I wish her and you the best.

  7. This isn’t a memory, but it sure is corny, a poem I wrote in years past.

    A Christmas Poem

    I look in the mirror
    And what do I see?
    That Santa’s my daddy
    It just has to be.

    Our hair is white
    And so is our beard
    We look so much alike
    That it’s really kinda weird.

    Our belly’s will bounce
    Like a bowl of full of jello,
    We both like to laugh
    Are jolly good fellows

    We’re cranially challenged
    Our heads big and round.
    We’re known to be different
    We continually confound.

    We do have our differences
    A few I do see.
    You Ho Ho Ho
    One’s enough for me.

    I admire the color blue
    Red’s kinda scary.
    The white fur trim, I feel
    Makes you look like a fairy.

    So dear Santa
    I think you can see
    Why I think you’re my dad
    Do you believe little ole me?

  8. Raising five children and also keeping other people’s children for eight years was a busy time for me. There were always conversations going on about babies—formula vs breastfeeding, doctor visits and heartbeats, etc. The usual topics between mothers and mothers-to-be. So I learned that children, even though they don’t appear to be actively listening, these conversations do seem to seep into their brains while they are playing. Here is an example of what I mean.

    My youngest son was in elementary school (I think around third grade) and it was December 7th –Pearl Harbor Day. The teacher asked the class if anyone knew what day it was and why it was special. My son thought and thought. He noticed the calendar on the wall, studied it, counted it. December 7th –two and a half weeks before Christmas. A knowing smile spread across his face as he raised his hand. The answer was obvious. December 7th was Baby Jesus’ due date!

    His teacher called me in one afternoon shortly after this and told me about it. She could hardly speak for laughing as tears rolled down her face. She said she would never forget my son’s answer as long as she lived.

    My son is 28 years old now and it’s a tradition every year on December 7th to ask him if he knows what day it is. I get a big grin out of him every time.

  9. Kathy, this is both funny and sweet.

  10. Hope for the Holidays

    There’s been a lot written about hope this year.
    It has become a bit of a slogan.
    Overused, lightly spoken, a throw-away word.
    Nonetheless, I invoke hope tonight.

    I grab the word and shake it
    as if it is a Christmas package from a loved one,
    and I can divine its hidden secret promise.
    Do I hear the rattle of far-off faith that the future will be brighter?
    Perhaps that’s a rustle of trust that good things can, indeed, come soon.
    Echoes of optimism chime with a deep and muted peal,
    urging us to hang on,
    even when no end is in sight.

    With hope, we cast our thoughts forward
    like a fishing line into a pool of dreams,
    hoping for a bite.
    Yes, we whisper in our hearts,
    glancing quickly around as if that one word might kick the legs out from under our teetering balance.
    Yes, we whisper, trying out the words. Yes, the dream will come.
    The weary battles of the past will become the lighted windows of our future.
    We’ll venture into the unknown;
    we’ll plant new roots and a brand new set of uncertainties.
    We’ll need hope then too, it seems.

    And so I share my wish tonight, my prayerful hope:
    May we have a friendly spot to meet in the future as well,
    to gather us in,
    to hold our words
    as we reach out, each night, to explore all our new and widening hopes
    for one more meaningful New Year.

    • Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

      My hope grew exponentially this past year by taking your Beginners Writing Class. It was indeed a leap of faith into unknown territory. I had no idea that I had any ability at all with words, but through your patient and directed guidence, I grew in confidence and ability. I go into 2012 with excitement for the new writing horizons which I intend to explore. As I mentioned above, one of the best teachers in my life died last Sunday, his influence on my life was immeasurable. I sincerely count you as a teacher of that same caliber. As long as we have people who are committed to teaching and have passion for their craft and students, we can all have hope for the future. Our only way forward is in the continuance of good instruction for the next generations. I really don’t mean to be overly sappy, but you are doing an hororable and vital service through sharing your knowledge with love.

    • Echoes of optimism urging us to hang on. Thanks, Ann. These are wonderful words for the season. Merry Christmas.

    • One more meaningful New Year! Hope is a beautiful thing.
      I’m with Peanut also…your writing class was a wonderful experience…refreshing.

    • This is very uplifting. Thank you, Ann.

  11. To the melody of “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.”

    Don’t Come Down My Chimney

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    I’m afraid that you will fall,
    The pitch is steep, the snow so deep,
    And the rooftop is so tall.

    I’ll leave the side door open.
    You’d best come in that way.
    It’s closer to the Christmas tree,
    And less liability.

    Please Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    It’s a wood stove, don’t you know,
    There’s a handle for to seal it well
    And the pipe is very small.

    There’s a catalytic converter
    To burn the smoke away.
    It’s not there to break your fall,
    But because of EPA.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    I’m afraid that you’ll get stuck.
    The fire’s hot, the coals are deep,
    And screams disturb my sleep.

    I didn’t leave the milk out,
    It’s best there in the fridge,
    ‘Cause the FDA would sue my butt
    If warm milk made you sick.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    And leave your pipe at home
    We all know your second hand smoke
    Will shorten my life span.

    There are hand wipes in the entry,
    I insist you use a few
    So you don’t leave the germs that spread
    That terrible swine flu.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney
    Before you’ve read my blog
    It’s there I left my Christmas list
    Of all the things I wish.

    I put away the cookies
    That were on the side table,
    Lest the IRS says they’re fringe benefits
    And makes them taxable.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney
    And about your reindeer team?
    It’s the methane gas that they all pass
    And global warming.

    I’ll leave a cup of chocolate,
    But it won’t stay hot too long
    You can nuke it in the microwave,
    If you like it just that way.

    Please, Santa,
    Don’t come down my chimney,
    Just mail my gifts to me.
    I’ll pick them up and spread them ‘round
    My plastic (made in China) Christmas tree.

    • Ha, ha, ha! (Or should I say, ho, ho,ho!). I laughed after every verse. Clever, funny, and original. Loved the angles about worrying over liability and FDA, EPA, and IRS regulations. Oh, we live in bureaucratic times. I can relate to the last line about the plastic, made in China, Christmas tree. I decided to replace our 22 year old artificial tree this year, spent an hour and a half assembling the new one, only to have a final product that looked like a cylindar stuck on top of a cone. I disassembled it and took it back, then went home and assembled our old (not yet thrown out) tree. They just don’t make them like they used to.

    • I got a lot of laughs out of this one. I read it to my family too. You’re very popular around here right now!

  12. Very funny, Gully! Loved it!

  13. Peanut Beranski (aka Becca)

    Gully, this is officially my favorite Christams Carol now. If Bing could only sing it now or even Nat, you would be raking in the royalties big time.

  14. I have laughed and cried my way through all of your entries. Although I don’t have anything to offer, I want to thank all of you for brightening my day.

  15. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

    Hugs, Gully

    PS: Cocktails and reindeer sausage at my place New Years Day.. Bring snow shovels.

  16. Ummmm…. About that reindeer sausage? It’s really made of caribou.

  17. Merry Christmas to the best writers ever! (Ann–sorry about the “!” but I’ve had too many cookies and way too much coffee and I’m a little bit hyper. (did I spell that right?) !!

    Merry Christmas everybody,

  18. Merry Christmas to my online writer’s family. I hope you receive the gift of a renewed muse and the words to tell your story. Have a blessed time.

  19. Merry Christmas to all you fine writers. I have thoroughly enjoyed and have been touched by all your entries. Thank you, Ann, for giving us the permission to be corny.


  20. I greatly appreciate all the info I’ve read here. I will spread the word about your blog to other people. Cheers.

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