My Favorite Day of the Year
by Sue Faris Raatjes©
December 26th was my favorite day of the year when my four children were young. The frenzy of our holiday season looked like this:
- Holiday parties
- School events
- Shopping, wrapping, decorating
- Work responsibilities
- Church programs
- Service projects
Why do we do that to ourselves? We cram everything into the three weeks after Thanksgiving. Holidays are fun and memories are important, but often they drain a family.
That’s why I liked December 26. The pressure was done. The children were happy to stay in their jammies all day and play with their new toys. No sibling arguments because, well, it was Christmas and you don’t argue when Santa is so generous.
The best part of the day for me was reading a new book. My husband always gave me a book for Christmas. Often it was one by the late Erma Bombeck, a humorist who began her career writing for a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper. Her column, “At Wit’s End,” morphed into a book and a successful writing career.
Bombeck’s books were a lifeline for women managing homes and raising children in the 1970s. She gave credibility to the difficult tasks and tedium that defined their days – especially for those who were stay-at-home moms. She helped me stay sane.
Two writing tips I learned from her:
- Be real. Bombeck connects with readers because she isn’t afraid to show her true self. Look at the cover of her book, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home.
- Use humor. A powerful aspect of her writing is how she transitions from humor to pathos. All of her books are hilarious. Then bam! About two-thirds through, she hits the reader with an in-depth concept that rips the heart out. Her chapter about sending her last child off to kindergarten makes me cry every time I read it. I read it when I sent each of my children off to kindergarten and then again when I sent them away to college. That’s powerful writing.
Erma Bombeck was a long-time resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona. She gave generously to The National Kidney Foundation Arizona and founded the Authors’ Luncheon that supports that organization. Sadly, she died in 1996 from complications of a kidney transplant
This quote from her sums up her feelings about her gift of writing:
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I had not a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’
My adult daughter has memories of me sitting in the recliner, the day after Christmas. I’m reading a Bombeck book and laughing out loud. Thanks, Erma.
For more information about two Bombeck-inspired events, click the links below:
- Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop – University of Dayton every Spring
- Friends of Erma Bombeck Authors’ Luncheon – Phoenix every Fall
Sue Faris Raatjes authored the novel, Route to Survival. Sue is a former high school English teacher, freelance writer, and Bible study leader. She has four children, 10 grandchildren, and lives in Phoenix with her husband, Bob. Read more of Sue’s writing on her blog, Grow With God, and visit her website, SueRaatjes.weebly.com.