Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day 2018 by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Two Hundred and Forty-Two years ago our Forefathers first read the Declaration of Independence to the people of what was then this brand-new country. Today everyone is busy going to parades, picnics, fairs, family gatherings. But while you’re taking part in all that fun, try to remember that such things happen in your stories too.

I know I’ve said this before, because I have read stories that have no holidays in them at all. Of course, in some the events of the story are confined to a few short weeks, they can be forgiven. But when a story covers a longer period, why aren’t there at least family special days, like a birthday or anniversary. If the character doesn’t have much family, couldn’t their friends have such days?

And of course, there are also national holidays to consider. After all, if the events you have happening occur on like the first Monday in September here in America, your character isn’t going to find a single bank that is open, possibly not even a store.

If the story you are working on happens over the summer months, why don’t you have Independence Day events in your story? Even if your character isn’t in America, if he or she is American, wouldn’t they at least celebrate on a small scale? And all sorts of things can happen during or around the events associated with this holiday.

I’m currently working on just such a story, still need to work on the scenes which happen on the fourth of July, but I do have them, because they happen. Somewhere in this story I also have to have the birthday of the hero’s stepsister because I’ve already established at the beginning of the story that her birthday was coming, as in over the summer.

Of course, my problem is, because of many different issues, its been decades since I’ve been to any events that occur between the parade and the fireworks, so I’m trying to figure out what this fictious town would have planned that would be fun for teens and younger to enjoy for most of the day. What kind of booths or games they’d have planned, where they would they be at? That sort of thing.
Then again, this is a fictitious town, so I guess I could do just about anything.

And then there is writing sci-fi or fantasy, things that happen in worlds not our own. I have a sci-fi in the works too, and I have to decide what I’m going to do about things like birthdays and anniversaries. Do they celebrate them? If so how? And what kinds of other things do they celebrate? Do they have national holidays? Do they have religious holidays? And again, if so, what are they? Do they even have celebrations of any kind? And if they don’t? Why not?

There are so many questions that can be asked, but what are the answers?

The answers always depend on the story, and what you are trying to convey about the characters, the place, etc. But I think I might enjoy coming up some holidays, celebrations, and traditions for this make-believe world of mine. I also think having such things as a part of the fabric of the world I am building will make that world more believable.

Don’t you think so?

Have a happy and safe Fourth, Happy writing everyone. And happy birthday, tomorrow, Konnie!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Of Holidays, Memories and Birthdays by Konnie Enos

Something someone said recently was one of the ways you remember things, events, is because you’re emotionally connected to them. Basically their traumatic or dramatic to you.
The specific example he gave was that anybody alive when Pearl Harbor was hit can remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news.
I know our grandma could. She told me not only what she was doing but what she was thinking about. Or rather who she was thinking about. First was her brother-in-law who was stationed at Pearl Harbor. Needless to say she was concerned about him. (They later learned the initial blast knocked him backwards onto the dock, off the ship and to safety. He outlived Grandma.)
Second was her unborn child. She was about seven months along with her fourth child. He was born February 1, 1942. Old enough to serve a stint in Vietnam, after fathering four children. Two of which are Bonnie and I. (It should be noted he had two more children after he served in Vietnam.)
I’ve also spoken to people who could remember exactly what they were doing when they heard JFK was assassinated. There are others who have never forgotten the day Ronald Reagan was shot.
Personally one of my earliest memories, and most traumatic, is accidentally dropping a couple of potted plants right into my hands on my birthday. I still remember accidentally bumping the shelf (a not so stable bookcase) they were on and being terrified the owner would be upset if I let those plants fall without at least attempting to catch them. Both hit my hands plant down, then of course I dropped them. Not that either was very big. They weren’t. But because both were cactus plants.
Not only were both my hands full of little nettles but being my birthday, and therefore the middle of summer, I was barefoot, so at least one of my big toes got hit too.
The worst part of the day came later, when it was time to open all my birthday presents.
I could not touch a thing. Bonnie had to open each and every one of our gifts.
She picked up one up and excitedly opened it. “Oh look what I got!” Then she picked up my gift of the same size and shape, opening it. “Here’s yours.”
Rinse and repeat, three times. Our mother bought us, two little chairs, two alphabet books, two miniature china tea sets, two sewing card sets, and two jump rope and jack sets.
Each and every gift told us we were a set, two of one. Never separate, always together. Always the same. Just like our rhyming names told us we were a set. Of course the fact people around us couldn’t tell us apart already gave us that information.
The problem was even at six years old my sister and I already knew some differences.
For one thing, Bonnie didn’t find that tea set appealing. And I know I didn’t care for the jump rope or jacks. In later years I learned to use both, but at six I couldn’t. Plus neither of us liked the sewing cards which were meant to teach eye and coordination to preschoolers.
As much as we hated getting all the same gifts that year, the events of our next two birthdays solidified our resolve to rebel against identical gifts.
The next year our father’s girlfriend and her mother gave us each a baby doll. Only unlike every other time we’d been given such a gift, these dolls weren’t carbon copies. One, just like the mother, had short, curly brown hair, and the other had long blond hair, like Dad’s girlfriend. AND his girlfriend could tell us apart!
Yes, we treasured those dolls.
The next year Momma gave me a baby doll and Bonnie a teddy bear. She was finally getting the idea. However, every single other gift we got was carbon copy gifts except the badminton set we had to share. We even got tea sets, jump ropes and jack sets, again.
We threw a fit!
We did everything we could to make people see us as individuals. We still got gifts we were supposed to share, but I think that was the last year we got carbon copy gifts.
Anyway, the conversation about how you remember traumatic events, and it just being the season, it brought up one of my earliest memories, those plants landing on me.
I believe I stated our birthday is in the middle of summer. We’ve been told, our mother went into labor while at the fireworks display. So we weren’t born on the Fourth, but the stands going up let us know our birthday is coming soon.
Happy Birthday (just a bit soon) Bonnie!
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Of Holiday’s and Other Memories by Konnie Enos

There are some holidays you can remember for months, even years afterwards. Then there are others that seem more like normal days and within a couple of weeks you’ve forgotten exactly what transpired. For me Labor Day falls in the latter category, generally a very forgettable day.
To this day, thirty-eight years and counting, I still remember a good deal of what occurred the morning of Monday, September 3, 1979.
I can remember my bedroom. It was so pink. Pink walls, pink dresser, pink carpet. I even had a pink bedspread. I’ve always assumed the total pink color of the room is why I didn’t have to share with anyone. At the time I had two brothers, and though the youngest probably didn’t care, he was sharing with his older brother. I can guarantee our oldest brother wasn’t going to sleep in a pink room.
As for my two sisters, well neither one of them have ever liked pink. So yeah, I had the luxury of a whole room to myself for the first time in my life. I even had a nice big full sized bed to myself. (My siblings all had single sized beds, and roommates.)
So on this particular morning I slowly came to realize the sun was peaking over the distant mountains. I looked up for a moment noting how the cloud cover turned everything into more hues of pink. I was appreciating the view and the thought came to me that I normally didn’t have time to see it because I was getting ready for school.
Wait! School!
I very nearly jumped out of bed before I remembered it was a holiday. Sleepy me snuggled back down for some more sleep.
A few minutes later Dad appeared at my bedroom door. “Get up.”
“Why? There’s no school today.”
“To help Margo.”
“Help her with what?” Bear in mind that Dad was a pro at forcing us kids to do someone else’s chore because he thought he had the right kid doing it. I was not budging unless it really was my chore.
“Pack? Why? Where is she going?”
“The hospital.”
Well that did it. I bolted up telling Dad I was coming and he could leave so I could get dressed. I finally realized my stepmother, Margo, was in labor with her second child.
To this day I don’t understand why he didn’t just come right out and tell me what was happening and why she needed help. But I also find it funny that I went from groggy still snuggled in bed to wide awake in a split second when it finally hit me.
And I did go downstairs to help her, though I don’t remember what exactly I did to help. Most women are smart enough to pack go bags well in advance so all I can think of was I gathered a few last minute items for her then helped Dad get her to the car.
It was much later, after we got to see our newest little brother that Margo told us about the funniest part of the day. You see she delivered in the same tiny hospital she worked in. Her co-workers were snickering clear through her labor about her being in labor on Labor Day.
So for me our youngest brother’s appearance into the world is a day I’ve never forgotten.
Then about nine and half months later the little squirt made Father’s Day memorable by walking, for the first time, clear across a country kitchen and into Dad’s arms. Made Dad’s day.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Birthdays and Holidays part 2

As I stated in my last blog post, Konnie and I were born on July 5th, a fact that does affect how we think and feel, but there are lots of other people born on or near holidays. I know quite a few.

And I’ve heard a lot stories, and or complaints about this fact of life, everything from never having friends in town, or available, on their birthday because of the holiday or one girl who griped that everyone always expected any party held on her birthday to be a costume party. These things exist, and, when possible, we should incorporate them into our stories.

After all, for our characters to be realistic, they have to have a birthday, don’t they?

I admit, sometimes the timeline of a story doesn’t lend itself to including a birthday. If it doesn’t span an entire year, it might not cover the time when the birthday is. And there are people who just don’t make a great deal out of birthdays, but what if they do, or what if the character was born on or near a holiday?

Or what if, like that bit I witnessed on The Big Bang not too long ago, a character would rather ignore his birthday for some reason. What is the reason? And how do his friends respond to it? If the writers of The Big Bang can make entire episode based on that subject, it should make a good brief story line too.

Or you could have a character born near a holiday that isn’t on the same date every year, and in the story, that date happens to be your character’s birthday. How will they react? How will they feel?

I can help you with a family’s reaction to having to deal with a birthday and Thanksgiving on the same day. I could even ask my brother how he felt. And I already know Mom’s reaction to going into labor just as soon as she finished eating that yearly feast. She never let us, or more particularly Ben, forget it.

And in my late teens when my youngest brother made his entrance into the world, I heard a lot of jokes about being in labor on Labor Day, not sure if he still hears them, but then how many of his friends know he was actually born on that very day? Though it might be fun to have character give birth on that day. :)

And that complaint about friends being unavailable for birthday parties? Well, I recall once commiserating with a couple of friends over that shared problem. They were born on July  4th, but I’ve later heard it from a friend born on Christmas day.

I personally know of three people born on Christmas day. (I feel sorry for those poor souls. Gifts only once a year? How awful! :))
I already mentioned the Halloween birthday complaint. I can see how that would affect the attitude of someone about birthdays. But it might actually be fun to add to a story. :)

And I know a lady was born on New Year’s Day, however, I think she enjoyed being able to have a sleepover the night before her birthday. At least she was having fun at the one such sleepover I attended.

And there is one day on the calendar, which isn’t really a holiday, but it does affect the people born on that day a great deal. I happen to know of several. And that’s February 29th. Just two of these souls that I know of are a cousin and one of my teachers both in high school and later in college.

As I recall my cousin complained about having a birthday party just once every four years, but I think that might have been his mother’s doing, we didn’t get a party every year either. But our one time teacher liked to joke he was younger than his students were. He insisted he was only twelve when he was teaching us back in high school but had celebrated a birthday by the time he moved up to teaching college, so he was thirteen then. And he milked that both times. He was a fun teacher, one of my very favorites.

Anyway, when we were born can affect our attitudes about birthdays, and when our characters are born might do the same for them. Do any of your characters have a birthday on or near a major holiday? And how does it affect your story?

Happy writing, everyone. :)