The Little Things

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? If you do, you may already be thinking about them, at least a little. I don’t tend to make strict ones but throughout the year, I do try to improve. I notice it’s the little things that kill.

Take the preparation and display of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

A few years ago, as a small part of my contribution to dinner, I brought jellied cranberry sauce. Of course, everyone knows that you must slice the cranberry sauce so it appears in rounds and then you serve it in an oblong dish. Everyone, of course, receives such an oblong dish as a wedding gift. This dish is used to serve cranberry sauce. Sliced into rounds. We do not know of or speak of whatever population would consider the purchase or consumption of the glop that is known as whole berry cranberry sauce. We have never met such an individual, though we would welcome such a poor, wretched, misguided soul to our Thanksgiving table.

While I was not looking, one of my aunts MUTILATED THE CRANBERRY SAUCE. She cut it into IRREGULARLY-SHAPED RECTANGLES and put it into a BOWL! And she did this happily, as if this were a perfectly normal procedure. When I asked about this horror of horrors (trying to refrain from expressing my outrage and puzzlement), she said her mother had always done this! I considered this development astounding. Hadn’t her mother received an oblong dish for her very own jellied cranberry sauce? But alas and alack, apparently both women had somehow managed to live productive and peaceful lives, unaware that butchered is the ENTIRELY WRONG way to serve cranberry sauce. MY mother, who was also in attendance, had always served cranberry sauce the CORRECT way. When questioned later, I discovered that she was unaware of this atrocity in time to stop it, so we all had to live with maimed cranberry sauce that year, known henceforth as THE THANKSGIVING TRAGEDY.

Have you ever caught yourself feeling this put out over something so insignificant? If you’re like most of us, I have a feeling you probably have. I’d say if you do make New Year’s resolutions, now is a good time to throw out things that aren’t working for you, and those things are the splinters. (Notice my expectations, assumptions, and just plain silliness.) Let’s all get out the tweezers and rid ourselves of these little pains that could threaten our relationships.

Oh, and as an aside? I don’t even like or eat cranberry sauce.

Your turn:

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Do you have any splinters you’d like to get rid of?

What splinters do your characters have?

How do you think your writing path will change this year, if at all?

14 Responses to The Little Things

  1. Jackie Layton December 17, 2015 at 4:51 am #

    That’s exactly the way we do cranberry sauce in my family. One year I noticed my mother never ate it. In fact my dad was the only one to eat cranberry sauce. For some reason that made me so sad, I began eating it so he wouldn’t be alone. It took a few years, but I grew to like cranberry sauce. Daddy is still alive, and I always serve it on a rectangle glass plate that belonged to Grandmother Hubbard.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Elizabeth Goddard December 17, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    Hilarious! I don’t eat the cranberry sauce either, but I know how it’s supposed to be served! 🙂

    Good points, Tamela.


    • Tamela Hancock Murray December 17, 2015 at 9:50 am #

      I think they might even show it sliced on the can, Beth. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. DIANA HARKNESS December 17, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    I think I used to eat that canned glop as a kid, but once I grew up and found that you could buy fresh cranberries at the store and put them in a saucepan with some water and spices and heat them until they burst, that’s all I ever made. And it works well in any shape container. i later began making cranberry muffins with whole cranberries and let them burst in the oven because that took care of two side dishes: bread and cranberries. And everyone liked them. You are right. There’s no need to sweat the small stuff and change can be good!. This year we’re having Boeuf Bourguinon for Christmas instead of the ubiquitous turkey. And if people don’t like it, too bad.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray December 17, 2015 at 9:51 am #

      Diana, I usually serve beef for Christmas since one turkey is enough per year, thank you very much. Enjoy your Christmas feast!

  4. Rick Barry December 17, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    I tend not to make New Year’s resolutions, not because I don’t need them, but I have too many needs to wait until New Year’s. It seems God regularly shows me rough spots around the edges where my life needs a bit of divine sandpaper, a dose of polish… Waiting until the New Year would mean co-existing with imperfections that beg for attention right now. 😉

    Thanks Tamela!

  5. Tamela Hancock Murray December 17, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Amen, Rick!

  6. Julie Surface Johnson December 17, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    Wonderful post! Reminds me of the family that had a tradition of cutting off the end of the ham before baking it because that was the way their much-admired great grandmother did it. What they didn’t know was that great grandma didn’t have a baking dish large enough for the hams her farmer husband brought in.

    Sometimes our traditions and writing rules make about that much sense. Thanks for the reminder. BTW I love jellied cranberry sauce rounds served in grandma’s oblong pressed glass dish and am guilty of passing along that tradition as well.?

  7. Patricia Beal (@bealpat) December 17, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    I’m with Rick: too many needs and rough spots to wait. But the end of the year does make me think about what worked and what didn’t. Social media and contests were the writing highlights of 2015. I gained ~7,000 fans/followers. Praise God! I was a semifinalist in Genesis and a finalist in First Impressions (first contest nods ever). Not winning hurt (a lot!), but I’m thankful for how far I made it. I learned important truths about my first manuscript–truths I was able to use to my advantage in editor pitches in Dallas. Three houses have a partial and one has the full. Maybe 2016 will be THE year? Here’s a right-now resolution: Even though I found time to write a new novel in 2015, I want to handle my time more carefully. Here’s another: I pray I’ll remember to let Jesus carry my burdens often, so I can have more fun in this crazy journey to publication. I usually wait until my heart is so heavy I can hardly move–then I remember I’m not supposed to carry my burdens.

    Travel light, friends. Merry Christmas!

  8. Tamela Hancock Murray December 17, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Excellent thoughts, Patricia. Congratulations on your successes in 2015 and Merry Christmas!

  9. Angela Breidenbach December 18, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    We have a special family turkey recipe that turns out amazing, fool-proof, every time. One year someone else brought the turkey. The tragedy was that my daughter had a new boyfriend and talked up our family turkey. He was polite, eating the dry and tasteless one. But after they left, my daughter ran back in and said, “I need an explanation!” Then I agreed to make a small turkey dinner the next week so she could prove we had the best turkey on the planet…her boyfriend then agreed 😉 Now each year every one of my kids call and ask who is making the turkey before they’ll commit to coming. We’ll never potluck it out again, lol. By the way, I adore cranberries. It’s a 50/50 thing at our house. It’s either loved or hated.

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