Christmas season

More Christmases Remembered

From: Fraser Firs, Palm Trees & Spanish Moss

A Christmas Carol – a Maggie Chalifoux story

At a gathering of friends I overheard some people talking about a writing group. There was a new woman in the group and she was a writer. Her name was Reds.  She had very red hair and a long ringlet on one side. She was willing to work with us, to help us to develop our writing skills. I jumped right in saying I wanted to be part of that.

            We began meeting every other week at Ellie’s house in Warren County, North Carolina, which she called “The Gathering Place”.  To celebrate the Christmas season, we went to Red’s instead for a writing session, and then on to Warrenton, North Carolina for lunch. She lived closer to our destination. One of our group was such a clown. She had made little round tags about two inches in diameter for each of us. They had a big red L in the middle and a black circle on the outer edge, and a black line across the L, meaning NO. This was like a sign that might say “no pets” for instance. It took some coaxing but finally we pinned these little tags to our sweaters and off we went.

            We shopped at the Scarlet Rooster, delighting in all the treasures that the owner, Todd Smith, had gathered for his shop. After a bit, Todd said, “I’m not sure I should ask but what do the tags mean?”  With some laughter we all gathered together and burst into song “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel!” That was enough singing. I felt totally ridiculous. But it was fun.

            We moved on to the Hardware Café for lunch. Halfway through our lunch a young policeman came in. He kept glancing our way and it was obvious he was curious. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore. “I’m sorry to interrupt but I just have to know. What do those tags mean?” We looked at each other grinning and chuckling. Someone said

“Ready?”  On cue we sang “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel!”

            The policeman laughed with us, shaking his head as he walked away. It was very silly but a memorable and fun time, one not likely to ever be repeated.

Christmas season

Christmases Remembered

from Fraser Firs, Palm Trees & Spanish Moss anthology

One of Arlene Benden Eno’s stories

Joyous Christmas 1966

I could not be happier! We were driving away from New London. I never wanted to see this place again. It was so cold! Everyone there was cold and uncaring. At least that  was how I felt while I lived there. We were on our way to a new life, starting over without interference from a mother-in-law who I did not like me and never would.

            Dave was now back in the Navy he dearly loved!  He was assigned to a ship at Little Creek Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach. We found a summer cottage to rent at Chick’s Beach.  The summer was over, and rent was extremely reasonable. We could stay there while we waited to get into Navy housing.

            I believe this was one of my happiest times of my life. I felt free! No more criticism and ridicule! I could raise our 2 boys David and Scott, the way I wanted without unwanted, unwarranted advice.

We settled in to this little, warm home. It was one bedroom, a small living room, tiny kitchen and one bath. There was a huge walk-in closet where we put a cot for the boys to sleep in. We even managed to cook Thanksgiving dinner in our efficiency kitchen. I was loving life.

            How we managed to put up a Christmas tree was beyond me, but we did! Christmas day was a duty day for Dave, and he had to stay on the ship.  We had Christmas dinner on the ship with him and celebrated our own little Christmas the next day.

            We decided the boys needed a dog and we found one at the SPCA and named him Skipper.  Scott was only fourteen months old at the time and could not pronounce the puppy’s name and called him Bickey! Hence his name became Bickey.

            I so loved my little family but had a wild desire to have my little girl and you guessed it, I became pregnant again. There was never a doubt in my mind it was a girl.

Little did I know that little girl would someday become my best friend in the world.

Christmas season, Poetry, snow, women's stories


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the bear warms in his cave
woodchuck snuggles away
with other forest creatures
beaver submerges under
his sticks and logs

new fallen snow is ground cover
keeps it warm for winter
the creek trickles along
slipping its way thru lacy ice
moving on to bigger places

snuggled in my reading chair
I wrap the afghan tighter
around my body for warmth

all creatures of habit

For a signed or inscribed copy, send email to: $10 plus $2. Shipping.

angels, Christmas season, living with ghosts, Memoir, women's stories


At this time of year when angels are adorning the tops of Christmas trees, I remember when an angel saved my life and the lives of my four sons. I was fleeing an abusive marriage, driving south to Florida, hoping to re-locate there. In the middle of a scary night, I nearly drove over the edge of the two-lane road in Georgia. An angel saw things differently and saved us. Read the full story in NOSEGAY OF VIOLETS a writer’s memoir of psychic awakening. The Horseshoe Restaurant on Danville Street in South Hill VA and Oakley Hall in Warrenton NC both have copies of the book available at $15.00. Read the full story of one thankful woman. Me. It makes for a great Christmas gift. Please share.

books, Christmas season, coffee, cookbooks, fiction, hauntings, living with ghosts, Memoir, paranormal, Poetry, wormen writing, writing


dscf4286 violets-3 dscf4294 DSCF4228
Announcing a special event happening along the border of North Carolina and Virginia. December 2, 2016 from 1 until 3 pm+ at Backyard Birds and Coffee, Hwy 903, Bracey, Virginia (entrance driveway is next to the Sunoco Gas Station) Five local authors of various genres are gathering together for an afternoon of excitement. Bring your questions and comments. Come, join us. Remember that books inscribed by the author make great, unique Christmas gifts! Refreshments served.

Sandra Martin – memoir ~ Snapshots ~ Memories and Recipes
These stories are from Bracey farm girl, to suburban mother and finally to the life of a NYC literary agent. Ms Martin represented clients in the emerging mainstream genres of deep spirituality, ESP and the paranormal, alternative health and then there were the conspiracy books.

Arlene S. Bice – memoir~ A Nosegay of Violets- A Writer’s Memoir of Psychic Awakening
An ordinary girl grows into womanhood while experiencing extraordinary psychic moments. A very personal story unwraps to reveal secrets held for many years.
Ms. Bice is also the author of Ghosts of Warren County, NC & Beyond and other books on true stories of ghosts and hauntings.

Thomas Park – poetry ~ Looking for ‘Cuda Brown
Looking for ‘Cuda Brown tells the stories of many extraordinary characters Thomas has met over the years.
Mr. Park, founder of Warren Artists’ Market, lives and teaches in Warrenton, NC. He has an M.A. in English from Wayne State University and an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont. He was published in Best New Poets of North Carolina.

Merriwether Shipley -fiction ~ Cassandra and the GI P.I.: A Dupont Circle Mystery
Cassandra and the GI P.I., a DuPont Circle Mystery, follow the events that lead to a college student’s chance meeting with a P.I. named Harry Shields in October of 1969. He suffers from shell shock which has followed him for 15 years. An unseen foe is trying to kill him. They work as a team to uncover the terrors, both internal and external, as they pursue life together.
Meriwether Shipley has been an actor, model, producer and director of stage and screen. She now applies her story telling skills to this seven-volume series of books. Ms. Shipley lives in Clarksville, Virginia.

Patricia Bortz, – fiction ~ Hard Truth: Secret of the Back Row
Megan Montgomery isn’t out to save the world, but her best friend, Nadia, is. America is no more. Christians who refuse the “”mark”” are arrested for high treason. Megan trusts Sixtus, the antichrist and President of the New World Order, until his true perverse nature is revealed.
In 1996 Patricia led the theater group at her church in Armonk, New York. She wrote and directed many short dramas and plays for her powerful ministry in prisons, nursing homes and homeless shelters. She was then led to write a full-length play based on the battle of Armageddon. “Hard Truth” was the result. The final performance played to a sold-out, standing room only theater. Mrs. Bortz lives in Bracey, Virginia.

art, Christmas season, general, Poetry, Uncategorized


blog 006.JPG It’s time for greeting cards to be sent out. It matters not which holiday you celebrate; Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Happy New Year, and maybe others that I am unfamiliar. I save most of the cards I receive (all with the hand-painted envelopes) and enjoy them again later. . . maybe even years later. Here is my take on it all.

Greeting cards from long ago
written by a familiar hand
declaring feelings of
someone now gone

Cards with a personal note
wonderful to read years later
encouraging, reassuring
remembering dear friendships

Note cards with thank you
sent for some little thing
or maybe some thing big
a long-forgotten thoughtfulness

Hand-made cards sent
designed with loving care
expressly with me in mind
treasures to keep forever

Cards spark memories
always dear, loving, caring
before good times turn to bad
or in times of sorrow, so sad

I remove cards from the box
sketch the graphics
into my daily journal
re-living a happy moment

And then there is Celeste
who paints the envelope
to match the card inside
giving the carrier some cheer
and me over and over again

It isn’t whether the cards are large
fancy, or expensive
it’s always, it’s the words
written from the heart
communicating sentiment


Christmas season, general, opinion, reflection

What Is It About The Day Before….


Today is New Year’s Eve, at least it will be when night falls over us. So it is a big deal turning the calendar to 2013… WOW! 2013! But it is only one day later than the 2012 that we are washing away with a reflection then just letting it go.

 Really, the day before I turned 60, I was 59, of course. Now the fifties are great but facing 60…WOW! That was a big step. People look at you and listen to you differently when you say you are 60. It is like they put you into a serious age category so they can listen to you without taking what you have to say seriously. But I was only one day older than yesterday. What’s up with that?

 Christmas Eve was very different when I was a child. It was something anticipated, creating more anticipation for Christmas Day. It was an evening of singing Christmas Carols in the neighborhood or to whoever would consent to listen. That wasn’t always an easy thing to do with a bunch of kids without the choral guidance of someone who knew about real music. But today it is about opening your gifts so you can spend Christmas Day opening gifts with the absent parent & the new family that you had no part in seeing it blossom. It is a day extended but so different from the day before.

 Happy New Year……Remember yesterday……Enjoy today……Treasure tomorrow.

Christmas season, Poetry

Christmas as Contemplative


Not all scenes of snow with Christmas intent

are filled with sleigh bells and holly

not all thoughts of stockings hung by the chimney,

include fat men in red that are jolly,

lays on my mind

A scene of trees laden heavily with white stuff

can bring visions not of sugarplums

but of peace, contentment, muffled sounds of nature

that fill the heart without the drums,

no little boy here

So in remembering your favorite Christmas year,

that it does not need to be repeated

for once it is placed in your heart, it remains forever

to bring out each year and greeted,

improving with age                   © Arlene S. Bice, 2012