I always thought I knew what cologne smelled like.
It was harsh and made my eyes water and nose burn.
All I knew is that my dad wore it religiously.
I always thought my dad wore cologne.
I was ten years old when I learned what whiskey smelt like.

I was sixteen years old when I took my first sip of whiskey.
It was weak, mixed with diet coke, but it still left my throat burning.
I never liked the taste, but when I brought the cup to my nose and smelt the bitterness and I saw the eyes of my father, I knew that the smell was so much worse.
It was that moment when I understood why people drank to forget.

That night I closed my eyes and I saw the black label of Jack Daniels Whiskey, I saw the long brown paper bags that my dad hid in the cupboards, I saw the coke cans littered around our trash can.

I was too young to understand, but with whiskey running through my own veins I connected each individual dot like each sign a constellation.

I set the cup down and winced.
My friends laughed, of course.
They didn’t know.
They’d never even guess.
They probably thought I was a lightweight, a girl who couldn’t even handle a sip of whiskey.
I smiled, too.

I don’t think I’ll ever drink whiskey again.

I never understood how someone could drink

How someone could throw away their life for a single sip of whiskey

How they consumed what they knew could kill them

But then I'd lay in bed for hours on end

And those hours became days

Days became months

Months became years

A never-ending cycle of torment

And some way

Somehow  

I understood

Before she could speak she pointed.
grabbed my hand and sat me on a stone wall.
tugged her mothers shirt and pointed beside me.
sat between us and smiled, kicking her feet.

I just met her that morning, but she knew.
bright little girl
maybe that's why her mother named her after the sun
Soleil.

fond of "No". that was a big one.
and "elsa" of course.
and every night when you tucked her in she'd list everyone she knew and ask if they were home.
"papa home?"
yes, papa is home
"numnum home?"
yes, numnum is home.
"Dada home"?

I can only imagine she does the same.
an I imagine it... so often.
I wonder what they tell her.

"I love your words."
That's the last thing she told me.
and the first.

I love her words too.
I still hear her, whenever I say them.

"Blue"
"Three"
"Venom"
We played Lego Marvel together, and I told her venom was Daddys favorite, so naturally she always wanted to play him when you asked
"who do you wanna be?"
"Venom. BIG Venom"
There's different kinds of venom in lego marvel, cause he can like,
turn hulk size and do hulk stuff, or turn spiderman size and do spiderman stuff?
I liked him because he was super versatile,
but I'm pretty sure she picked him because he's my favorite.

"Elza"
"let it go"
she could sing the whole song before she could even make full sentences.
and her mom would make her stop because she wasn't good at it.
but I thought her voice was beautiful and always told her
"I love your voice"

I don't know very well the relationship between love and memory
but I heard once that the key was repetition
and if for nothing else, just to hear her in my head forever I say them over and over to myself

"I love your words"
"Let it go, Let it go"
"No."

Prince Simon, Prince Jason and Princess Sophie lived a regal life.

Slaying dragons and battling witches by day, monsters and zombies by night.

Each day brought adventures new, trips on boats and to the zoo.

One particular day when feeling bored, Prince Simon decided to explore.

Down to the basement, he slowly sneaked, quietly to take a peek.  New adventures he did seek.  
Simon decided to explore.
A rickety old wardrobe he did find and suddenly an adventure sprang to mind

Searching in the wardrobe what do you think he found…

“Come on Prince Jason, Princess Sophie too, come into the wardrobe and look what I have found
A snow globe, all beautiful and round”, “shake it Princess Sophie what do you see a festive setting with us three.”

Climb into the wardrobe pull your dress in tight, we are about to take flight.
Into the wardrobe all three did climb, and soon the wardrobe started to rock and shake, getting higher and higher and faster and faster it suddenly left the ground.

“Where are we going” shouted Princess Sophie, “destination unknown” said Prince Simon, “no change of clothes” Prince Jason asked, “not this time” said Prince Simon, “we are fine as we are, I’m not sure if were going that far”.

Soon enough the trip had ended, and the wardrobe landed on the floor, Prince Simon, Prince Jason & Princess Sophie opened the door and set off to explore.

This new land they had found, had lots of white snow all over the ground and white snow in all the trees.
Prince Simon, Prince Jason and Princess Sophie fell to their knees, delighted to see such a lot of snow they started to make snowballs and began to throw them at each other, laughing and wheezing with delight, they took aim and threw with all their might.
30mins later and wet through they weren’t sure where they had landed or what they had come to do.

They began to start looking around when on the floor Prince Jason found some footprints that looked quite small, not as big as horse or as small as a mouse, Prince Jason thought they belonged to a reindeer, all three of them began to cheer.

They set off following the small footprints until they found themselves on top of a small hill looking down the hill they could see a Fairyland Grotto, sparkling and white a sheer picture of pure delight.
They looked around to see if they could find a map, which would show where all the stalls were at.

Princess Sophie was the first to shout, “let’s take a tumble down the hill and check under the mat of the first Chalet to see if that is where the map is at”

All three agreed and tumbling to their bellies did roly poly down the hill, the first to come to a standstill was Prince Simon who looked under the mat and found the map was exactly where they'd thought it was at.

Prince Simon, Prince Jason and Princess Sophie looked excitedly, the very first stop was at the Toy Factory.

Situated to their left they entered the doors very slowly, then took a deep breath as they did see hundreds of Elves making toys in all their glory.
Working hard to make toys of wood and of metal too, from board games to cars, puzzles to bikes the Princes and Princess could not believe their eyes.
The Elves were working very fast and all the toys they made were sure to last.
The Elves were delighted to have company and agreed to stop and have a cup of tea, with all three.
Cups of tea and plates of cakes, mince pies and scones were soon assembled, and hurriedly eaten. The children were delighted to be having tea with the Elves, couldn’t help themselves but ask, do you know if we three are on the Good List or the Naughty?

Ha! Ha! Said the Elves wouldn’t you like to know but we still have several weeks to go.
It isn’t until the last minute the decision is made, so Santa asks that you are good all year round and not just today.

Once tea was over the Elves did say that they could move on to the next stop which was to groom the reindeers, feed them too and clean the stable of their smelly poo.

The children laughed and giggled they really were excited they exited the Toy Factory and went next door, the reindeers were in a stable and the children started to explore.
They were joined by the Head Groomsman a very elderly Elf who had a long white beard, moustache and hair and a pointed hat upon his head.

Prince Jason asked the Groomsman if they “could feed the reindeers please?” Princess Sophie was so excited she started to shout and wheeze “Please Mr Groomsman, Please?” “Can we feed the reindeer a carrot and some milk too? I don’t mind if I have to clean up his smelly poo”

Prince Jason and Prince Simon were not too sure and began to walk backwards towards the door, ready to make their escape should it occur that they had to clean the stables for the reindeers.

Mr Groomsman began to laugh, his belly began to shake, “it is OK young children please come in, you can feed the reindeers a carrot and milk, then brush them clean, you don’t need to clean up anything else, that is the work of the younger Elves”

The children were delighted and ran into the stables, first the Head Groomsman gave them a brush and showed them how to groom.
Next the children gave each of the reindeer a carrot and saucer of milk, smoothed the reindeer some more then the Head Groomsman said, “I hear that the three of you are expected next door, where Santa awaits to hear your list, don’t keep him waiting you do not want to miss the chance to speak” “Today will be the last day for a while, as he is working hard to bring a smile to every child’s face on Christmas Day”.

“A few rules before you go:
“Talk quietly and real slow, if you talk too fast or begin to shout you will not make sense and then you may miss out.
“Ask for Toys or Books or sweets, maybe socks for your feet but do not ask to solve world peace, Santa is always working on this, but it is very hard as you can imagine and takes more than one person.”
Ask for things for your mummy and daddy, your brother and sister, thinking of others is a good trait and will please Santa, now run along be good children and don't be late”
One last thing before you go Rudolph is looking forward to meeting you today, but his Red Nose is poorly and won’t come out to play, so please don’t tease or laugh or wheeze when Rudolph Nose does not come shiny and bright “

The children promised the Head Groomsman they would behave, said farewell and went on their way.

Next door to the Stable Hut resided Santa’s hut before they knocked on the door Prince Simon looked at Prince Jason and Princess Sophie and began to implore “let’s think about what we are going to ask, we don’t want to fail this task”

The three children stopped and put their heads together and slowly they began to say which each thought would be a nice surprise for their Parents to open on Christmas Day.

Prince Simon said, “for Mummy that’s easy she likes dressing up a new scarf and gloves to match her coat”
Prince Jason declared “for Daddy a book or cd for the car”
Princes Sophie sighed and said, “for Granny and Nanny a new duvet for their beds”

All three agreed it was a good list, Prince Simon stepped up to knock on the door.
Slowly the door opened and revealed the room inside. Santa was sat on a chair with Rudolph by his side.
“Welcome, welcome, children” Santa cried, “come in, come in don’t be shy, don't stand there  it’s awfully cold outside”.
The children entered and dutifully closed the door, waiting patiently for Santa to speak.
Santa called them by their names and asked if they had a special gift they would like on Christmas day.  
The children became quite shy and uncertain what to say.
Again, Prince Simon, Prince Jason and Princess Sophie put their heads together to agree what would be best when Santa laughed and said, “I was only putting you to the test”
Of course, I know what each of you would like but it depends on whether you’ve been Good or Bad
The children started to pull a face and looked very Sad, they weren’t sure if they had behaved well enough throughout the year.

Santa decided to put them out of their misery turned to each of them and said:

Prince Simon – you have attended school every day you could, you’ve completed your Maths Homework, made a book rack out of wood and in addition your Teacher has been pleased to say that you are cheerful every day.  

Prince Jason – you too have attended school every day that you could, you’ve excelled in English and Sports.
Your Teacher is delighted to have you in her class and you can easily cheer everyone up with one of your hearty laughs.

Princess Sophie – finally you have attended school every day excel in English and Ballet
Your Teacher is happy to have you in her class and trusts you to help new pupils orient their way around the school on their first day.

These are very good reports, but we give the final say to your Parents, so let’s see what they have to say:

Prince Simon – our eldest son makes us very proud he studies heartily and never is too loud.  
He looks after his brother and sister and includes them in his fun, he really is a very well-behaved number one son.

Prince Jason – our middle child is fun to be around, he never gets too angry, always makes his bed and doesn’t let his intelligence go to his head.
He takes his studies at school seriously and hands his work in on time, he really is a well-behaved middle child.

Princess Sophie – our youngest child, has a little bit of wild but not too much, just enough to keep us on our toes that is for sure, she makes friends easily and always has a smile for everyone to see. she really is a well behaved youngest child.


Santa sighed, “I wished all children had these same reports, for certain if you do nothing naughty in the next 10 days your names will be on the Good List come Christmas Day”.

The three children cheered and wanted to ask what presents Santa had in mind but decided to decline, the three children decided to wait and be surprised.

All this time Rudolph had sat quietly by Santa’s side not saying a word and trying not to look at the children he really didn’t want to be noticed or heard, he wasn’t feeling right, his usually very Red nose did not come shiny and bright.
Princess Sophie noticed him out of the corner of her eye, ran to kneel by his side and put her hand around his neck lovingly declared “You are our very favourite reindeer”  
The Two Princes joined Princess Sophie and sighed and said “Rudolph have no fear that your nose is not Red at this time of year, there’s ten days to go before your nose is required to light up the way for Santa on Christmas Day”
If you rest and hydrate it is not too late and your nose will be right and shiny and bright for Santa on Christmas Eve night”

Rudolph was delighted and gave the children a nudge and a sloppy kiss to their ears, all three children giggled sillily.

“Now, now”, Santa said, “you have been gone a long time, you really should return home, your Mummy will be worried about you and that will never do”

They climbed into the rocket and, set the destination to their home not quite a million miles below.
As they approached their home, the roof started to open wide and the rocket began to slow, the ride was nearly over they did not have far to go.
Very soon the wardrobe landed safely on the floor, the children were exhausted and ran to open the door; out they fell full of excitement and looking for their mummy, The Queen.
Princess Sophie ran out first excitedly shouting “Mummy you never guess where we have been, we’ve been to Lapland to See Santa’s Hut and Rudolphs Nose which did not light and a Head Groomsman who was a real delight, plus all the Elves took tea with us too, we really did have fun, can we go again next year”.
“Slow down” Mummy smiled and said, “it’s getting late, it’s almost time for bed”.
If you run along to your room, get dressed for bed and clean your teeth, I will be along in a while to read you a story and you can tell me all about your trip to Lapland today, I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say”
Mummy closed the door and said “Good Night sweet children, sleep tight, say your wishes with all of your might, may all your wishes and dreams come true for you on Christmas Day”

A big thank you if you read this to the end, I hope you enjoy this seasonal story, it's a work in progress but let me know what you think.
Merry Christmas everyone ☓

Traditions are not something to take lightly
Not something that can come and go
Call me old fashioned but like
Sapphires passed through generations
Memories and family
Traditions stand strong in a community built
Respect for those who came before
And a promise for the future
To continue on
Through the hard times we rejoice in knowing what is coming
And in the good we are thankful for what we have
Knowing that it wasn’t always this easy
And that others before us fought for this
We stand on the grounds of community and tradition
Born and raised

They are trying to change a whole group of 150 year old traditions and celebrations in my city. And this was my response to those people

When my friends think about drinking they see parties, and wild nights, and crazy hangovers

And when I tell them I never plan on letting a sip of alcohol touch my lips, they're scandalized

Because they don't understand

How could they ever?

When I think of drinking, I think of my mom passed out underneath our Christmas tree

Or my dad swerving down side streets with the smell of whiskey wafting off of him like smoke from a campfire

I see my childhood that came crashing down in front of my eyes

I see something that they will never understand

anna 6d

i have been through lifetimes of trouble
in the sixteen years i have been graced by
biology. i have learnt the power of words and
what they do to a person. i have spun webs of
silk to protect my soul from everybody around me, so much so
that i fear i may never reach
you.

but, when - if - i do,
i swear to you that i will expand my parameters, that i will
re-erect my barriers and protect you fiercely.
you will be everything to me.
to you, words will not be weapons.
to you, i will dedicate my life, no matter how small
it
may be.

because, after it all, how could i not love you?

dedicated to my future children - i may be a basket-case, but you are the thing that's better that i bequeath this world - your possible existence is all that keeps me going.
Jackie Mead Dec 8

At work Tinsel on the PC and lights scattered on the tree
Time off to spend with the family
Decorations throughout the house
Christmas Tree too big, needles dropping on the floor
Frantic last minute shopping for stocking gifts from the late night store
Wrapping presents, writing cards ready to send
Mince Pies and Mulled Wine drunk with friends
Laughter from the GrandChildren excited for the day
Elvis Christmas songs on in the car, set on loop to play
Presents opened in pjyjamas sitting on the floor
Lazy breakfast with the Kids, Grandchildren and more
Late meal on the day
Turkey, Pigs in Blanket, Roast Potatoes and veg, all the trimmings
Christmas Pud and Brandy Sauce
Turkey Stew and dumplings on Boxing Day
Meals shared with the family, everyone helping with the food, sharing the load and spreading the love as everyone should
Walks with the neighbours next door and anyone who wants to join in
Popping into the Pub for a welcome beer
Christmas Carols ringing out cheer
Board games out and playing begins, rules changing, shouting, laughing out loud, a bit of playful cheating can be heard
Wrapping up warmly with scarves, hats and gloves
snuggling up to the one that you love.

I love this time of the year - don't you?

I don't have young ones to put out milk and mince pies for Santa anymore, that gets done at their houses but I do love Christmas time, family gatherings, shared meals with family and friends, wrapping presents, writing cards the works
Dillon Neal Dec 1

We are all strings held together by a thumbtack
Placed there by a man just trying to get his hope in humanity back
We all connect to somewhere else that we don't want to be
Held in place by more tacks in the backs
Of greasy men and stepped on women and children
In this world tossed  and forgotten in a rucksack
Thrown around amongst a gun, huncuffs, and a gum pack,
Extra...

I just kinda started writing, I like the result
Charlotte Dec 7

I’m sure sometimes even
doctors
have to practice
telling bad news,

until eventually they
think they’re desensitised.
But I’ve seen when
they have to tell themselves
it’s a just story,
to deliver it without crying too.

A little vial of blood
determined the difference between
losing life and growing it.

You were something I never thought I’d have,
the news was delivered like a punch to my ribs,
even after the fist had left
I still felt the pain between each breath.

You
could have been gorgeous,
could have smiled at me from bed
every step of mine reminds me
of the ones you will never take
could have laughed at school and
become the cure to our misery.

Instead, you became the cause;
a tender bruise too new to touch,  
a ripping of my stitches,
the beginning of my end.

To this day
I imagine your smile
in every baby.
I hear your every laugh and every cry
through them —
every video of first steps
reduces me to tears
for they,
could have been yours.

It’s cruel of mother nature,
to remind us
something as common as life
can be so precious, so fragile
that just a crack in the window

in a sheet of glass,
thin as my patience,
lies  between
life and death
and can leave us both
breathless.

Losing a life is hard
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