Archives for category: Me During the Holidays


Thank you to the 70 authors who participated in our ME, DURING THE HOLIDAYS Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from December 5, 2015 to January 1, 2016. You helped make our holidays merry and bright! Wishing you — and all of our followers — the very best in the New Year! Many thanks to the following authors — from 19 states and 11 countries.

Kimmy Alan (Minnesota)
Elizabeth Alford (California)
Sandra Anfang (California)
Hannah Arnold (Georgia)
Ginger Beck (Arkansas)
Jane Laube Boch (Virginia)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Greta Bolger (Michigan)
Cath Bore (England)
Kathleen Chaney (Indiana)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
SuzAnne C. Cole (Texas)
Patrick Connors (Canada)
Joanne Corey (New York)
Chella Courington (California)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Jessica S. Frank (Louisiana)
Lourdes Gautier(New York)
Tony Gloeggler (New York)
Kimberly Gotches(New Mexico)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Tina Hacker (Kansas)
Ann Hart (Illinois)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Kathryn E. Hester (Georgia)
Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike (New York)
Trish Hopkinson (Utah)
Mark Hudson (Illinois)
Peyton Hutchinson (Georgia)
Joseph Johnston (Michigan)
Carol Keenan (California)
Sofia Kioroglou (Greece)
Kathryn Kulpa (Rhode Island)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Jessica Wiseman Lawrence (Virginia)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Ellaraine Lockie (California)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Susan O’Donnell Mahan (Massachusetts)
Betsy Mars (California)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco (California)
Sarah Frances Moran (Texas)
Caitríona Murphy (Ireland)
Thomas O’Connell (New York)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Venetia Peterson (Canada)
Anita Pulier (New York)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Jill Amy Sager (Oregon)
Kryssa Schemmerling (New York)
Jarod Schneider (Georgia)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Donna JT Smith (Maine)
Joan Jobe Smith (California)
Karissa Knox Sorrell (Tennessee)
Maureen Sudlow (New Zealand)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Thomas R. Thomas (California)
Bunkong Tuon (New York)
Jacqueline Vaughn (Rhode Island)
Lynne Viti (Massachusetts)
Lori Wall-Holloway (California)
Lynn White (Wales)
Linn Whitehouse (England)
Amanda Williams (Virginia)
Mantz Yorke (England)

happy new year 2
The First Day of the Year
by Kimmy Alan

The day after New Year’s Eve
Time to burn the Christmas tree
Create a blazing inferno on the snow
Throw in that brown shedding wreath

Gingerbread house demolition
Left over fireworks ammunition
Smoke bombs for special effect
Roman candle for illumination

Suckling pig I would roast
Sparkling cold duck to toast
The first day of the New Year
Is the one I loved the most

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I must confess, there is a little of Scrooge in me. Though I respect the sanctity of the holidays, I’ve despise the insanity. In a desperate attempt to please, I’ve witnessed people stressed beyond belief. Which is why the last of the holidays is when I chose to host, because New Year’s Day I love the most. Living in the country, I’d roast a suckling pig. Coat it with a glaze of Jamaican jerk spice and orange marmalade, then serve it with a bright tangerine in its mouth. My guest were in awe of meat with a face, and little kids would be a little bit afraid. After dinner we’d burn the Christmas tree and destroy the gingerbread houses with a few well-placed fireworks. What could be a more glorious time of year, than the first day of the New Year?



NAME: Kimmy Alan

HEIGHT: Too short.   WEIGHT: Too heavy. AGE: Too old.

ORIGIN: Somerset, Wisconsin. RESIDENCE: St. Paul, Minnesota

PROFESSION: Steel worker, Mechanical Engineer. EDUCATION: B.A., Metro State.

GREATEST JOY: His four nieces — Bri ,21; Audrey, 9; Violet, 6; and Juliette, 4. WORST AGONY: His nieces drive him to pieces when they sing “Let it Snow.”

AMBITIONS: To stay in remission from stage 4, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and to live long enough to see my poetry published in an anthology.

CHRISTMAS LIST: Lots of hugs from family and friends. A new set of teeth (radiation ruined mine). A new girlfriend (my old girlfriend left me because I was losing my teeth). And to bless the publishers and fellow poets at Silver Birch Press “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”


The Long Christmas
by Cath Bore

I was in the supermarket shortly after New Year 2015, earwigging to customers while I was picking up some bits. I like to listen. I’m a writer, it’s what I do. Say something spicy in front of me and it’s going in my notebook, no exceptions. Anyway, two women were next to me in the queue talking about one of their young daughters, whose birthday happened to fall that week. “She understands why she can’t have a birthday party like her brother and sister do,” said one to the other, sounding sad (but not quite sorry enough for my liking). “Their birthdays are earlier in the year, but hers is just too soon after Christmas.” Her friend nodded and agreed the January daughter was indeed good girl for being so gracious.

Me, I felt like turning around and bellowing NO, YOUR JANUARY DAUGHTER DOES NOT UNDERSTAND. She puts up with it because she’s a nice kid. Although how she managed to get that way, I don’t know. Why don’t you save money up and put it to one side for her party? Or just don’t give your other children parties, if you can’t treat them all the same? Hanging is too good for you. You’re a bad mother. What you are doing is SO UNFAIR.

I didn’t say any of this, though. I should have. Really wish I had. I wrote it in my notebook instead. The pen is mightier than the sword, I hear.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I felt so sorry for this little girl, someone I’d never even met. It stuck me, on hearing this, the myth that Christmas only lasts for a single day. That’s the lie that gets told to anyone who finds Christmas uncomfortable or sad or upsetting or irritating, isn’t it? Get through the one day and that’s it, you’re sorted. Breathe, over and done with for another year. Go for a stroll in the afternoon to break it into manageable bitesize chunks and life winds comfortably back to normal after 24 hours. In fact, Christmas stretches out like a yawn, its effects financial and otherwise, longer reaching each year.

BORE (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cath Bore is a writer based in Liverpool, U.K., currently writing a novel and lots of flash fiction. Her website is

New Year’s Night, 2010
by Elizabeth Alford

It is silence which cups us in its palm as we
intertwine our fingers and click the door closed
behind us to greet the new-fallen snow

with quiet joy. The air is brisk like wind
without the harshness of storm, and the solemn
trees are unmoving: sleeping, heavy with

ice, frozen in place; like this moment. We are barely
dressed for this venture—black snow boots,
gloves, matching hooded sweatshirts—

but we may yet make snowmen
tonight. The muffled shuffling of our boots leaves
sharp treads in the sparkling slush—

a gentle reminder to leave Nature as we find it.
Meanwhile our mother the Milky Way
overhead is a shimmering masterpiece—

dazzling, hypnotic; like sequins on a dancer’s sleeve.
And when you drop down on one injured knee,
snow soaking your jeans, to present your own

shining New Year’s gift to me, I learn that
there is no such thing as a cold star; and that
my real home is here—in the heaven of your arms.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I sat down at my beautiful new desk to write for the holiday theme, I had a lot of trouble trying to come up with something for Christmas. I spent literally the entire submission period thinking about it. But when I thought to myself, “Maybe I should be different and write about New Year’s,” the words came easily. It’s been almost six years since this night, and I love telling everyone the story. I’m glad I could share it with you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford has always had an on-again-off-again relationship with poetry; but in the wake of her graduation from CSU East Bay, she recently announced that they are now going steady (much to everyone’s relief). She lives in Hayward, California, with her loving fiancé, mother, and two adorable dogs. Her favorite things include sushi, loud music on long drives, staring at the stars, and of course, writing. Her work has recently appeared on Poetry Super Highway, Haikuniverse,, and in the Silver Birch Press My Sweet Word Series.

PHOTO: The poet at Christmas, circa 1992.

New Year’s 1960
by Sandra Anfang

I’d change into pajamas long before sundown
to speed the celebration.
four sisters huddled around the Magnavox
eyes on Times Square
the promise of tickertape
cocooned in its casing.

In the fridge a platter of deli
sandwiches we called Sloppy Joes.
the thrill of the yellow crinkled plastic
Dad called excelsior.
the giant hood like a see-through shower cap;
the funny alarm when I snuck a Gherkin.

My parents would light for a minute in the doorway
like luminous moths
Mom in her bouffant helmet
Dad looking sheepish in a bow tie and tux;
a tendril of Chanel Number 5
lingered like a calling card.

In the den excitement blossomed
for resolutions not yet written nor even dreamed
how the new year might bring calmer dinners
a balm to sooth my mother’s ire
weaken the heft of her arm
like a Louisville Slugger
striking the orb of my face.

Could it whisk away the kindly piano teacher
who reeked of Aqua Velva
the torment of daily practice?
Would it bring back the jumping pony
whose velvet flank I lived for all week long?

We kept each other awake
with muted visions
each in her own ellipse
’til Guy Lombardo lowered the mirrored ball
and we would scream
jump on couches, whack each other with pillows.

Soon my parents would reappear
Dad a little tipsy
the only time I saw him drunk all year
the enormity of the suggestion this image raised
the impossible hope
that the new year could bring
some kind of ease
some chink in the armor
no matter how slight.

PHOTO: Opening gifts at Chanukah.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have fond memories of being a child on New Year’s Eve. It was such an adult holiday and yet I got to celebrate it at home with my sisters. That plate of deli sandwiches was the highlight, followed by the dropping of the ball at midnight.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandra Anfang  is the author of four poetry collections and several chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, two Healdsburg Literary Guild anthologies, The Tower Journal, Corvus Review, River Poets Journal, Unbroken, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Spillway. In her chapbook, Looking Glass Heart (due from Finishing Line Press in January 2016), she explores themes of introversion and mirroring. Sandra is a new California Poet/Teacher in the schools and is the founder and host of the monthly poetry series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma, CA. She believes that poetry is medicinal and one of the highest forms of truth-telling.

Eastern Standard
by Joanne Corey

As the third millennium turned,
our family toasted with sparkling cider
at midnight Greenwich Mean Time,
seven in the evening for us,
in deference to daughters’ bedtimes.

With our children grown, the two
of us honor that tradition,
clink glasses, savor the past,
sip, hope for the future,
in evening dark as midnight.

PHOTO: Bubbly (fruit juice) and glasses ready for 2016.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As the year 2000 began, midnight celebrations across the world were broadcast live on television. Realizing that the top of the hour was always midnight somewhere, we decided that we would celebrate at midnight GMT, so that we could all observe our usual bedtimes. We still love this quiet way to celebrate the new year.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanne Corey lives and writes in Vestal, New York, where she is active with the Binghamton Poetry Project, Sappho’s Circle, and the Bunn Hill Poets. She recently completed a weeklong residency/workshop with Mass MoCA and Tupelo Press in North Adams, Massachusetts, as part of the inaugural group of nine poets in this new collaboration between the Museum and Tupelo. They named themselves the Boiler House Poets after the soundscape installation in which they recorded this video. Ms. Corey chose to read Lessons from Mahler,” which was written for the Silver Birch Press “When I Hear That Song” series.


Tree Fallings
by Kimberly Gotches

Around midnight, I woke to heavy footsteps and a thud. Santa! I tiptoed into the living room. Instead of a pile of presents, our tree covered the floor, flattened like someone sat on it. Our angel topper’s halo was cracked in half, two golden crescents strewn atop a layer of shattered white lights.

“I didn’t do it,” I told Mom. “Maybe Santa knocked it over?”

“Dad lost his balance again.” Mom stared at one of his bottles on the table with the milk and cookies.

That’s when I heard the snoring. Dad was sleeping next to the tree.

I tried to pick it up to make Mom stop crying, but it was so heavy and my hands were too small. I called out for Dad to help, but he didn’t wake up. Shoulders sagging, Mom swept up the broken pieces around Dad.


“I need something to hold it up,” said Mom.

“I don’t know, look in the garage.” I covered my ears before the door slammed behind Dad.

The garage was a scary place. Mice camped out there. My misguided memory is of huge rats the size of my head. But Mom was like Clara in the Nutcracker, braving the Mouse King and his troops. She marched in and returned with thick, white rope. She tied the rope through the curtain hook and secured the tree.


Rick, Mom’s new boyfriend, witnessed the next Tree Falling. I heard Mom cry and covered my ears before the door slammed behind Rick.

When I uncovered my ears, I heard the footsteps return.

There was Rick with a toolbox in one hand and a piece of wood in the other. He drilled the tree stand firmly to the wood.

Although it wobbled, it never fell again.

SOURCE: This piece is drawn from the author’s  in-process memoir on holiday recollections. Follow Kimberly’s website to see when this memoir is available.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We all go through stretches of life where we are wobbly, and sometimes we fall, multiple times. I know if I’m down, I have the strength to pick myself up. I also know I have support when I can’t do it alone. These are lessons my family has taught me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former youth services librarian from Chicagoland, Kimberly Gotches now writes and performs in New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment. She has nearly 10 years of experience telling stories at libraries, daycare centers, and schools. Before that, she dedicated herself to older adults as a Longterm Care Case Manager, leading original storytelling, improv, and writing workshops. A winner of the Intergeneration 2013 Storytelling Contest, Kimberly writes original stories that celebrate the benefits of intergenerational relationships. She draws from coursework in creative writing, acting, movement/dance, expressive art therapy, and improvisation to offer dynamic stories through both print and performance.

PHOTO: Christmas 2012 in Lombard, Illinois, with the author costumed as a tree and her stepdad, Rick. Rick’s love and support have helped more than just the Christmas tree stand tall!

Christmas submission.docx.jpg
Christmas Switch
by Carol Ellen Keenan

The tree looms high above me.
Fills the room with scent of pine.
There are candles filled with bubbles.
Shiny tinsel does entwine.

The presents spread before me.
And cheery promises abound.
Mom plans a scrumptious meal,
pumpkin pie and turkey browned.

I sit upon my momma’s lap.
She carefully explains,
“Santa frowns at girls who suck their thumbs
It is time. You must refrain.”

A tear slides down my cheek.
Santa Claus is mean and cruel.
Instead of milk and cookies,
I will leave him bowls of gruel.

At night mom helps me climb the stairs
and settle into bed.
Turns out the light and says, “Sweet dreams,”
Then tiptoes out of sight.

So I quickly say my prayers.
Think about that mean Saint Nick.
Then slip my tiny fingers
‘tween my rosy
little lips.

PHOTO: The author, 1952.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Christmas is often a blend of high expectations and inevitable disappointments. Often adults convey conflicting messages  to the ears of young children. As a little girl I struggled with the fact that a benevolent Santa can also punish children. Yet I always managed to wiggle out of consequences. Christmas Switch is an example of how I was spurred to create a plan of escape to avoid one of Santa’s rules.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Keenan developed an interest in poetry as a young mother while reading children’s poems to her daughter in the 1980s. Her curiosity about the genre grew and she began to squeeze in snippets of time reading adult poetry. Soon she began writing her own poems. It was very satisfying. Then she took a writing course for teachers at Columbia University in 2002. The course prepared her to teach the writing process to young children. As a result, she taught writing to first graders for 10 years. During that period she neglected her own writing. However a recent retirement freed her to return to the process.

Daddy and the Christmas Ham
by Alarie Tennille

“Hurry!” we’d say,
but Daddy wouldn’t,
carving the Smithfield ham
so thin you could see
the light through it.
No matter how many
empty dinner rolls waited,
he would saw with slow precision,
gripping the greasy handle
of the knife, its blade
worn into a thin arc
like the growing hollow
of the shank. As each pink
sheet came free, he would
hold it up for inspection.
“How’s this?” he’d ask,
relishing his rare chance
to impress the whole family.

SOURCE: A version of this poem was published in the author’s book, Running Counterclockwise.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Notice that Daddy is all dressed up to carve the messy ham. For some reason he’s wearing a name tag in his own kitchen, too. I grew up very near Smithfield, Virginia, and their peanut-fed, salt-cured hams are a delicacy we ate every Christmas. The ham is too tough and salty unless sliced very thin. Only when I was grown and cooking my own ham did I appreciate what a slow, difficult job that is.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She misses the ocean, but loves the writing community she’s found in Kansas City, Missouri. Alarie serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Alarie’s poetry collection, Running Counterclockwise, was First Runner Up for the 2015 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence.  She’s also written a chapbook, Spiraling into Control, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Margie, Poetry East, I-70 Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, and Southern Women’s Review. Visit her at

Christmas Is Cooked Red Cabbage
by Lin Whitehouse

My father was a commercial traveller, he worked in Germany where      customs were
familiar but he always drove home for Christmas. That was the only gift I      needed but
wanted more. While my mother got used to his routine again he and I      busied ourselves:
selected the tree from the farm, which was dug out roots intact, and
potted in the red container we kept in the garage full of garden
     canes the
rest of the year. The scraggly lower branches were severed with      secateurs –-
slipped out of the pocket of faded corduroy trousers –-
because symmetry is balance, but before it could be
dressed the red cabbage had to be cooked, it tasted better
reheated on the day. He sliced it and washed it in the tin pan that
terry nappies were once boiled in — everything had more than one use      — purple rings
stained the pan from previous Christmases, and some years later I used      it for
tie-dying. The cabbage recipe was not written down but committed to      memory:

Fat, onions, garlic, red cabbage, caraway seeds, cloves, bay leaves,      cinnamon stick, cooking apples,
red wine, vinegar, salt and pepper, everything added when it’s time was      due and left to
simmer on the stove for at least two hours. As the sweet and sour smell      subdued the
freshness of the spruce, we peeled the protective papers from the      painted glass baubles and
systematically adorned each branch. Luminous plastic angels and      shooting stars, of German origin,
were hung on the top circle of branches and glowed eerily at night.
     An outline of a silver star with
dangling bell took the place of other people’s fairies. Red apples were      polished to resemble
hand-sized rubies and laid on the bottom branches along with      Lebkuchen stars, threaded into edible
leys. Candles in their metal-petal holders were clipped on judiciously then      finally Lametta, strands of
silver foil, were draped over the branches like skinny scarves.

There had been arguments about the present giving: on the eve or on the      day, it didn’t
matter to me but my mother won that fight and after halves of grapefruit
sprinkled with sugar had been grilled and eaten for breakfast, and bacon      and eggs fried and
digested, we opened our presents. The candles were only lit on      Christmas Eve but the
comforting aroma of cooked red cabbage lingered until New Year, when      my father
packed his samples and left for another trip.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: All holidays are special but Christmas is more than most. With just days to go as I was unpacking decorations to put up for Advent, I couldn’t resist reminiscing about my childhood Christmases when I used to sit on the wall outside our house in the freezing cold (it always seemed to snow back then) waiting for my dad to drive down the hill and the celebrations to start. Before Christmas day I cook big pans of red cabbage from memory — ingredients are never weighed — and still love the smell of the cooked cabbage!

Black Forest 1958

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I managed to find this one of me (in the middle) on holiday in 1958 with my German cousins in the Black Forest.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lin Whitehouse lives in a small English village with her husband and two sons. She works for a children’s charity and writes whenever she can. Her writing has appeared in poetry magazines and anthologies, including Turbulence, Writing Magazine, and The Great Gatsby and short story anthologies including Whitby Abbey Pure Inspiration. Her short plays have been performed around East and North Yorkshire and recently as part of 2015 Cornucopia Festival.