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Memory Trees and Story Starts

By Chandra Smith

When I signed up to do the blog for December 24, I told myself since I love Christmas it would be a piece of cake. I should have remembered the only part of our writing journey that is a piece of cake is people’s perceptions of what it’s like to be a writer.

I sit here in the morning solitude drinking my coffee while enjoying my Christmas tree. The Douglas Fir is covered with an eclectic variety of ornaments. Our tree is a memory tree. While on our honeymoon we bought an ornament and decided it might be fun to get an ornament every vacation. Thirty-three years later, our tree is definitely creative. There are rocks, shells, crafts, ornaments that were gifts and others we inherited. I also have a vast array of things the boys made when they were young. We have a collection of Paper Mache Santas that we call the ‘axe murderers.’ Few of our ornaments actually look much like Christmas, but each one is a memory, a story. As we decorate we share the stories. Decorating the tree can take a long time.
Chandra Christmas Tree
When our four sons were teenagers, they created an additional tradition. During Christmas they find VERY obscure things and hide them on the tree. If I don’t find them before the tree comes down, the item then becomes a new, strange ornament. Needless to say, my tree is quite a conversation starter.

This morning looking at the tree and remembering the stories makes me think of the novels I have written. When I am asked how I get my ideas I have to say it depends on which story. The inspirations for my manuscripts are about as varied and unique as the ornaments on my memory tree. Sometimes it’s a sentence or something I see in nature or even an overheard conversation.

My favorite is the night my great-great-great Uncle John Edward Davis dreamt about his future bride. The next day he got dressed in what he wore in the dream, rode his horse to the house he saw in the dream and introduced himself to a total stranger as the man who came to court the farmer’s daughter, Elizabeth Everett. They were married four months later.

Stories are the fabric of my faith. Tomorrow I get to enjoy the most wonderful birth of my Savior, which of course, is the most beautiful story of all, crafted by the creator of all. I bet He thrills at the things He sends to us as inspiration. And I wonder what His memory tree of all of the stories we write for Him would look like.

Chandra Lynn SmithChandra Smith has been a member of ACFW since 2006. She is a 2015 Genesis Winner, 2013 and 2014 Genesis semi-finalist, and a 2014 bronze medalist in the MBT Frasier contest. Chandra is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owns Best Friend Dog Training. She writes the column Letters From the Dog House for The Evening Sun. She lives on a small farm in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, four sons, and four dogs.

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2 Responses to Memory Trees and Story Starts

  1. Such a sweet and amazing story, your greatx3uncle John’s. So thankful for Jesus’ memory tree!

  2. After 56 years of vacations and crafts, our tree is also eclectic. We were married in late October and bought our first box of glass Christmas ornaments in November. We still put them on our tree every year along with those we collected from various trips. Yes, they do bring back wonderful memories every time we start decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving.

    Your great, great, great uncle’s story is amazing and delightful. Thanks for sharing.