Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cri de Coeur

Many years ago, when newspapers were in bloom, the Detroit Free Press ran a writing competition every Christmas. I’m not sure if there was a prize, but I do remember that they printed the best three or so entries. The winners were always imaginative and well written. Detroit is a city with numerous colleges and universities with strong English departments, and countless writers who can make words sing.

One year I entered the competition. It must have been in the seventies. Mine was not a serious entry, not did I mean it to be. In a different time, in a different place, and, let’s face it, if I had any spare cash, I would have poured out all those words to a psychologist, trying to reconcile the countless chores of a parent with young children at Christmas with the need to make the Advent season a time of quiet and reflection and unhurried preparation. I still had memories of my annual trip to the Royal Festival Hall to hear The Messiah, I loved the idea of shopping for the perfect Christmas gift and sitting by the fire with a leisurely cup of tea, listening to carols. We were alone in a big city with no family to lend a hand and Toys"R"Us had lost its lustre. You may wonder where I found the time to write this opus if I didn’t have the time for a quick chorus of Silent Night, but it was important to me, so I did. I can’t remember if I wrote it in the first person or how I constructed it, but I am pretty sure that whoever read it threw it in the nearest wastebasket.

It served its purpose and I think that’s what words are for. That’s why there are so many blogs. If this were Redbook I’d come up with some schmaltzy ending, something about having the time and the leisure now and how I’d give anything to go back to those days when the beds were un-made, I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. to make cookies and the shining lights on the Christmas tree made even the whiniest kid smile with delight. I wouldn’t.

Oh, that entry? I never heard from The Free Press. And a few years later they stopped running the competition.

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