Friday, December 26, 2008


I won the Exceptional Writing Award for Thursday, December 25th with this poem!!! 

A writing exercise from

Twas the night before Christmas and Cynthia sat.
She needed more money, there was no doubt about that.
She worked in customer care for a retailer's site
and she picked up extra hours that day and that night.
The phone rang constantly without a single pause
and she felt like she was busier than good ol' Santa Claus.
At one point the phone rang and she answered on cue,
"Thank you for calling, this is Cynthia, how can I help you?"
"Cynthia," the voice of a middle-aged man said,
"I'll bet you're very busy!" Cynthia nodded her head.
"Yes, sir, we have been," she said with a smile
and the man replied, "I'll bet you haven't had a breather in while!
"Do you have some water or a drink close by? 
Go ahead and take a sip. I'll wait, I don't mind!"
Cynthia thanked the man and asked what he needed.
"Well, we both need a chuckle and I don't know how you've been treated."
He explained that he had placed an order not ten minutes before
just as an excuse to call in and cancel it and then a little more.
Cynthia canceled the order and asked what else she could do.
He proceeded to laugh and tell her a joke or two.
She smiled and laughed and thanked him for the break.
The gift he had given her was so thoughtful and great.
As they hung up she smiled and was filled with delight.
That one phone call had made Cynthia's whole night.

True Story. :)

Cynthia Smallwood
December 26, 2008


This was a writing exercise on
I wasn't planning on posting it on here, but I won the Exceptional Writer Award for December 26th, 2008 with this Diamonte Poem.

Barren, arid.
Fading, freezing, sleeping.
Wind cold winter snow
falling, flurrying, dancing.
Beautiful, animated:

-Cynthia Smallwood
December 26th, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Winter Solstice

December is a time of Holidays. Here in America we have the wonderful ability to see many different celebrations of religions and beliefs from all over the world. 

True, the most accepted of these is Christmas, as celebrated by modern Christians, but you can see many different cultures if you are looking for them. I have had the pleasure of researching many different types of religions over the past few years. 

Christmas Past:

It is no secret that I was raised Catholic, attended a religion class at church every Wednesday growing up, and made Communion as well as Confirmation. I have also made it known that I never did feel part of this system. Be that as it may, my Christmas each year was often the same. 

It would start the day after Thanksgiving when all the decorations came up from the basement. Dad would put up the tree and put the lights on it. Mom was in charge of the garland, and all three of us put on the ornaments. Dad, of course, put the angel on the top.

We would listen to Christmas music as we decorated and in the car on our way to anywhere we went. We watched our favorite Christmas shows, especially Santa Claus is Coming to Town, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and The Heat and Snow Misers.

Christmas Eve, we often went out for dinner with Pa and Grandma and sometimes went to the mall just to watch the crazy last-minute shoppers. That night, I was allowed to open one present. This present was from my parents. One year it was pajamas, which began a new tradition. Later on, when I had a job and my own money, Christmas Eve also became the day that I gave my gifts to the family.

Christmas morning I would wake up and immediately go to my parents' bedroom. I would try my best not to look at the tree as I went because I didn't want to see anything that Santa Claus had left for us without them there. Once they were up, we plugged in the tree and began with the stockings. Mine was slightly bigger than my parents'. I would go through my stocking first, then Mom, and then Dad, and finally the pets (Happy, and also Lucy later on). 

Then we came to the presents under the tree. The same order applied. Me, Mom, Dad, and the pets. The rest of the early morning was set aside for playing with our new toys and setting up new gadgets and trying on new clothes.

On the rare occasion that it had snowed the night before, Dad and I would go outside to look for any left over signs of Santa. Now, keep in mind that this was in suburban New York and my parents were not lazy, but not the most motivated either... but still, we would always find Reindeer prints in the snow....

Later in the morning, we would head over to Pa and Grandma's house where we met with my Uncle Danny, Aunt Terry, and my cousins Nick and Emily. There, we ate bagels and watched the Disney Christmas Parade, opened more gifts, and took a family picture.

These are the Christmases I will remember from my childhood.

Christmas Present:

Nowadays our Christmases are much smaller. After Jeremy and I were married, we decided to break up Thanksgiving and Christmas between our families. The first year we spent Thanksgiving at home and traveled to New York for Christmas which was celebrated at my cousin Jill's home with her husband, Paul. There, we talked about our lives over the past year, ate baked ziti and steak, and played the Dictionary Game. 
The Dictionary Game may sound boring, but it is everything to the contrary; especially with my intelligent, sarcastic, and brutally unforgiving family. 

The following year we spent Thanksgiving with my family in New York and Christmas with Jeremy's where we drove down to his Grandmother's house for a big meal and gifts.

This year will, again, be very different. We do have a small, silver, fiber-optic, terribly commercial, twenty-dollar Christmas tree with equally small, matching bulbs. We have stockings, but gifts very rarely go in them. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we will call our families and put them on speakerphone as we open our gifts and they open theirs.

As far as gifts for each other go, we know what we're getting. I do not have a car and therefore, cannot shop without Jeremy there. We make deals and arrangements so we end up with no surprises for each other. 

This is the extent of our celebrations. I do not fret over it. I look at it as a neutral time; an in-between of the somewhat Christian traditions of mine and Jeremy's childhoods and the traditions we will create for our own family someday...

Christmas Future:

I can't tell what my Decembers will look like in the future. But I can paint a picture of what I would like them to be about.

As I had said originally, December is a time of many Holidays. Why is that? I am not an Athiest, I do certainly believe in something. The Earth, to be exact, and the Sun as well. 

In very ancient days, in the Northern Hemisphere, December 21st was, and still is, the shortest day of the year with the longest night. This is the Winter Solstice. Solstice is a Greek contraction based on the words 'sol', meaning 'sun', and 'sistere', meaning 'stand-still'. It was in these ancient days when the scholars would track the pattern of the sun as it went lower and lower in the sky and was visible for less and less time with each passing day. 

They had feared that, based on this movement, the sun would disappear entirely. These people knew that they needed the sun in all things. Along with the Earth, it provided life by helping plants grow, giving warmth, and also giving light. But, on the Winter Solstice, December 21st, the sun came to a stand-still. 

It remained still for three days until, on December 25th, a new Sun was "Born" (Or "Son of the Virgin Queen of Winter", depending on the region. This version is a bit more familiar to us today in another religion). This means that the sun was now getting slightly higher in the sky, and visible longer each day which, of course, called for celebration! A Yule Log would be lit on fire, and entire groups of people (most of which were related at some point), would gather around, sing, eat, drink, light candles from the flames of the Yule Log throughout the nights, and also brings gifts and well wishes in the inevitable Spring that was approaching.

The Yule Log typically burned for eight days and the celebrations lasted until the flames had burned out (This tradition is also kept alive by another religious holiday during this time of year). All together, from the standing still of the Sun to the last embers of the Yule Log, the Holiday lasted 12 days (Although partridges in pear trees were not given as gifts every one of these days).

If you don't think that is cool, I don't know what is. And it is this, very true, history that I choose to celebrate.

Now, how to celebrate it?

First and foremost, the celebrations must last twelve days, and I plan on doing something regarding the holiday on each one of these days. A few days will be spent decorating. Ancient decorations during this time included wreaths of Holly or Ivy. The long, dark nights made these ancient people weary of evil things like Sprites or Ghosts, but these beings would get caught in the prickly, pointy Ivy and Holly leaves hung upon the doors of homes. 

Trees were often hung upside down, in hopes of fooling the Sun into going the opposite way. Its these decorations that we'll put up first.

On luckier years, family will be able to come in to celebrate with us and decorate too. On December 25th, we'll light up a Yule Log. I'm not sure if we'll be able to keep it burning for 8 days straight, but we will certainly light it each night. We'll also exchange gifts, eat home-cooked meals, sing songs, and play games each night until December 31st.

On this night, we'll count down until the New Year begins here in America and discuss our plans for the coming, warmer months only to see how many of the resolutions were fulfilled by this time again the following December!

If you like my future December celebratory plans, please know that you are more than welcome to join us!! Friends are just Family that you get to choose.

But whatever Holiday you celebrate with your families, or choose to celebrate on your own, have a very, very happy one this year!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The City and the Mountain

Who will survive... nature or man?
A writing exercise from

(This is a real photo of Seattle, Washington in front of Mt. Rainier)

"Hello mountain!"
said the village below,
looking upon its mother.
The mountain replied
with a booming voice,
"Hello little brother!"

"If I am your brother,"
pondered the village aloud,
"then perhaps we are more even?"
"Not at all,"
the mountain retorted.
Said the village, "well, we will have to see, then."

The village grew
in time to a city
that reached, with its buildings, to the sky.
"What do you think now?"
it asked the mountain,
"I still love you," was the mountain's reply.

Soon more cities
had grown all around
and threatened each other with might.
The mountain watched sadly
as the city was attacked
and many of its people had died.

Smoldering and hurt,
the city sat and cried
and looked at the mountain above.
"You must be disappointed,"
the city sobbed softly.
Said the mountain, "For you, I feel only love."

Filled with vigor
and a new purpose on Earth
the city grew tall once again.
It never quite reached
the same height as the mountain
but it had kept its respect for it then.

Years had passed by.
The city and the mountain
remained friends as they both grew.
"I love you" said the mountain
each and every day.
Replied the city, "I love you too."

-Cynthia Smallwood
December 11, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Where Do I Belong?

A song in my pocket
Some friends by my side
A stage under my feet
The lights in my eyes

A perk in my step
Surrounded by trees
Wind in my ears
And dirt on my sleeves

Supplies all around me
My latest designs
A pencil in my hand
And a dress in my mind

A comfortable couch
Proud smile on my lips
A drawer full of cookbooks
With a baby on my hip

A small rural town
Or a city of lights
Where do I belong?
What will be my life?

-Cynthia Smallwood
December 7, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Home Haiku and other poems...

A writing exercise suggested by an English Teacher.

Take your zip code and make a poem about your home with that many words or syllables in each line. I used syllables to describe the last 3 zip codes I lived in: 11741, 42701, and 32835.

Holbrook was my childhood home
Sometimes I miss

Kentucky was
E'town is where I found him

Is where
I am now and the plants here look
like fireworks
celebrating me.

Fruit Poems:

Watermelon Haiku:
(a Haiku is a Japanese poem style with 3 lines containing 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables. Usually they make you see an ordinary object from a different point of view. Here is mine.)

ooh, Watermelon!
how I hope you are seedless
it's so much less work...

Tomato Cinquain:
(a Cinquain is a poem style that with 5 lines containing 1 word, 2 descriptive words, 3 action words, 4 words that convey feeling, and 1 word again. Here is mine.) 

red, juicy,
fruit in disguise...
I think you're disgusting,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

C is for Coffee

A writing exercise from

Cynthia doesn't care for coffee. 
In contrast, she chooses hot cocoa. 
It causes the coziness and contentment she craves. 
From a childhood that had concluded so long ago. 

True story, but not TOO long ago. :)

-Cynthia Smallwood
December 3rd 2008