Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sharing the Joy: Some Christmas Cheer from Erin at Oh, for the Hook of a Book #sharingjoy2015

Winter Wonderland: Christmas Always Gifts Us Memories
By Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

As a child, I grew up with the forest as my back yard. I spent many hours running free, kicking up leaves and wading through foliage, jumping across a small babbling brook, and escaping through the various trees and a meadow all toward the river, with its high embankment too steep to climb. Deep in the woods, it was like I was lost in another world, where the only sounds around me were the chirping birds, singing insects, rustling leaves, and running streams.

To the right side of the forest there was a regal section of pines, with their calming evergreen aroma. Needles covered the ground, pine cones crunched under my feet (and covered my fingers in sap), and it was there I'd stop and seem to gather strength.

My favorite time of tromping through the copse was during winter, as in my childhood the season seemed to be cold, yet dry, and always warm enough for inches of fluffy snow. I'd pull on my blue snow suit and gray and pink moon boots, my red stocking hat and hand-knitted mittens, and feel nothing but rejuvenation by the chill as I ran around outside with my scarf wrapped about my neck.

It was during the quiet days of Christmastime in winter, when the vibrant green peeked through snow gently covering the pine boughs, that I found the most beauty. There was snow so pure it glistened and sparkled covering the landscape as the daytime sun's rays streamed through openings in the tall trees. Even if I leaned my head backward, I still could barely see the tops as if they kissed the sky. The snowflakes would fall on my nose and eyelashes (why, yes, and remind me of my favorite "Sound of Music" song which I'd sing if I wanted as no one could hear me) and I would stick out my tongue to feel the droplets melt away their hopes of being snowmen.

Cardinals, robins, sparrows, and blue jays all tossed around in the trees and thicket, chittering their warnings at me, then eventually, their majestic songs. The woodpecker's knocks echoed throughout the woods. Looking down I'd see their tiny footprints in the snow, as they hopped around picking up twigs for their nests. Beautiful color among the bleak bland colors of post-autumn dormancy came from bushes and plants like the wild holly with their waxed green leaves and bright red berries. I loved to see a bird hopping around with a berry between its beak. I always wanted to feed them more during the colder months. I had the desire to hang homemade birdseed pine cones, and strings of popcorn and cranberries, from all the pine trees! That would be the perfect winter wonderland Christmas tree, for all the birds and animals, like squirrels, chipmunks, or mice. Yes, I was a little fanatical about Snow White.

Photo Credit: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

It was such a beautiful serene environment and easy to envision it being what old crooners were referring to when they sang of a white Christmas. The hushed solitude, untouched or spoiled by man, was about as peaceful a place one could find anywhere. And isn't Christmas a time for Peace on Earth?

Now, I have three kids and I live near the downtown of our small city. My kids have always lived here. My parents still live in the same place, a woodland wonderland, but my kids don't have the opportunity to go outside and play every day in the snow as I did, and they don't much even when we visit. My kids love to go to the park, and we go hiking often, but they aren't the type that are used to spending hours outdoors in an unorganized fashion. Children today seem so much more overpressed and stressed than we did as kids. I don't remember being overscheduled in must-do activities or having the amount of homework pressure kids have today. I remember building igloos, sled riding down the big hill next door at my aunt's on the trail through the raspberry and wildflower field next to the woods, and creating igloos and snow angels. We had lots of snow during my childhood and therefore, lots of snow days! I remember spending hours with the birds in the coppice, as they busied themselves and chirped their life arias, before heading in to warm up with hot cocoa.

The birds still call to me. They remind me of those quiet moments where my mind was clear and my heart filled with joy. I want to teach my kids to make birdseed pinecones and hang them from the pine trees as a Christmas present for the birds. I recently read somewhere than when a cardinal crosses your vision of sight, it may be an ancestor or loved one come to call. I think that's a beautiful thought.

If I need an escape from the bustling city life, the noises outside my window of sirens or car horns, or the glowing street lamps, I close my eyes and remember my winter wonderland. That's where I find my Christmas peace.

Please enjoy my poetry below, inspired by my memories and thoughts displayed in this essay. If you like my work, feel free to comment!

Christmas Wonderland Memories

By Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Winter chill upon my cheek,
I traipse along the bubbling creek,
I smell the air,
damp and crisp,
invisible is my reach.

Skeletons of trees,
they dance around me,
I spread my arms wide,
look up and see,
a serene blue sky,
vibrant and free.

I breathe and see my soul emerge,
time stands still,
I have no concerns.

Ivy and berries,
color comes to the forest,
Does Christmas come here?
Do the nests gift their twigs?

A cardinal, starkly bright, flutters.
His tiny feet leave prints,
snow-covered longings.
An ancestor, I feel,
embraces my moment.

I reach straight out,
absorbing strength from a pine,
tall, majestic, and divine.
Its aroma transports me,
another universe is mine.

Snowflakes lightly touch my nose,
a gentle dusting.
I touch the flakes that fall,
and suppose...

The cold revitalizes all my bones,
it warms me in a way,
I feel at home.

Copyright 12/11/2015 Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
This cannot be copied or reproduced in any way unless author is contacted.

About Erin
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has been writing essays, stories, and poetry since she was a teen and has always been an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, fiction pieces, and other various non-fiction and journalistic pieces and has won awards for her essays and poetry. As a journalist, she’s written for various newspapers, magazines, media outlets, and online news sources. In advertising, she’s written so much copy she can write it in her sleep.

Erin is the owner Addison’s Compass Public Relations and Hook of a Book Media and Publicity. She has over 19 years of writing, communications, public relations, marketing, editing, fund-raising, event planning, blogging, social media, and copywriting experience and offers services in all of the above mentioned areas, but now she’s making time for her first love, writing poetry, fiction, and essays.

She is in the process of writing several books in the fantasy, historical, and horror genres and many short stories. She’s also busy putting together a compilation of her poetry to publish into several books. Yep, one day she’ll accomplish all the stories in her head! Erin is also the owner, operator and writer for the site Oh for the Hook of a Book where she features book reviews, interviews, articles, writing, and more. Besides being a semi-professional photographer, which is another passion, she is the mother of three very busy school-aged children and lives in Ohio, where she reads, writes, works, cooks, bakes, dabbles with photos and art, and probably has a million other things going on at once.

You can e-mail her at hookofabook (at) hotmail (dot) com and find her easily at She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , and Pinterest, all under Erin Al-Mehairi.

Thanks so much to Erin for her wonderful memories and poem! Merry Christmas!

Always in spirit...

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