Volume XI, Issue 51 ~ December 18-24, 2003

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A Tradition Worth Repeating:
Fantasy and Memoir for the Holidays

Traditions return at holiday time to knit our pasts and present into a garment we wear comfortably into the future. We like that line so well we’re using it twice this year, as you’ll see when you turn to our favorite story of each year: Number 51’s holiday feature.

We like the reality, as well, for the memories revived by the season illuminate the big picture of our lives, our generations, our history. The cares of the moment seem lighter when we see them in perspective, the good times sweeter and the loves purer.

Each year, Bay Weekly Number 51 mines a rich vein of such memories. Bill Burton looks back through 77 Christmases in his column this week, and Connie Darago travels back 37 years to her first Christmas tree in her Reflection.

This week, too, it’s our holiday tradition to devote our feature story to how the season’s milestones are celebrated in our extended family. A wonderful six years of memoirs and fantasies have been the result.

Back in 1998, Eastern Shore storyteller Helen Chappell began the tradition by taking us on a fantasy journey to the magical land of Oysterback, a village usually lost in the mists and marshes. Even today, laughter overcomes us when we think of the war to have “The Last Word in Christmas Lights.”

In 1999, prize-winning intern, lacrosse player and Loyola College student Kristin Hagert led off “Twentieth Century Christmas Memories.” The following issue a dozen readers followed her lead, sharing their favorite stories.

Next, in 2000, former staff writer and calendar editor Mark Burns — a gifted storyteller who, we hope, will live up to his gift — told the story of his mother, who never thought there could be too much of a good thing, in “The House of Twelve Trees.”

Then, in 2001, editor Sandra Olivetti Martin wrote the story beloved in her family of “The Cat Who Came for Christmas” — an orange-striped kitten who brightened the last year of Martin’s mother’s life.

Last year, contributing writer Nancy Hoffmann, a lawyer and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in its first class of women Mids, recounted her family tradition of “Christmas in the Country.” That story has had the most powerful effect of all our holiday stories, at least that we know of. She and her husband Phil were so enthralled by that literary enhancement of country life that they bought their own farm — giving us 2003’s Thanksgiving story and an occasional column that will begin next year.

This year Louis Llovio takes his turn.

Louis is our newest staff writer. He joined the paper full-time just this week after having contributed as a freelance writer since spring. Already, Bay Weekly editors are calling his “Black Bean Christmas” our best holiday story yet. It will touch your heart, and it may bring tears to your eyes as Louis chronicles his Cuban family’s quest for the better life that his generation will be the first to realize. The story will also explain why he gave up a high-paying sales career to make writing his living. Illustrations by Annapolis artist Lali, who happens to have been born in Spain, wrap this story up in an inspired package.

Our holiday wish to you is that sharing our memories in this issue of Bay Weekly inspires you to savor your own memories. You may even want to write them down, or draw them, perhaps sharing them with us and other readers. We promise you that the craft of writing makes a good story even better, giving it the power to shape the past as well as wings to fly into the future.



© COPYRIGHT 2003 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last updated December 18, 2003 @ 2:59am.