Saturday, December 16, 2017

Merry Christmas from Glencoe, California

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Let me just say that I'm sorry for not writing more lately. As you can imagine, being a blogger with a case of "writer's block" is not good. Each night for the last week or so I sit here at my keyboard and try to write. But frankly, it has been a little tough.

Each night I look through the more than 60 serious drafts of stories that I'd like to finish and share with you. Each night I work on this or that post until I finally throw up my hands in frustration and call it a night. I hit "save" and hope that I can find what I need to write tomorrow. 

According to some sources, writer's block is "a condition primarily associated with writing in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown." I'd say that's pretty accurate.

Some say it is all about a difficulty with coming up with original ideas. Some say it has to do with problems such as running out of inspiration. Then there's what is known as "blank page syndrome" which is similar to writer's block as it can happen to a writer who cannot come up with anything new.

Writers who experience such things sometimes stop writing simply because of a sense of failure in so far as getting the acclaim they want. Of course there are sources that talk about how it happens when a writer is distracted or feels depressed. Another source on writer's block talked about it happens to writers who are going through a lot of pressure to meet deadlines.

As for acclaim? You give me that by merely visiting my blog. As for being depressed or distracted? I have been a little down since losing my older brother last year, but he liked the fact that I write. He actually encouraged me to do so back when some told me that I was wasting my time and shouldn't even bother.

The famous writer John Steinbeck's supposed solution to writer's block is simple. He reportedly said, "Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like."

So what do I do when I already write as Steinbeck advised? After all, I've made it pretty clear that I haven't been writing for some Historical Society, a Veterinary Program, to further my education in Criminal Justice, or to get a Political Science degree. I've stated from the beginning that my style of writing is that of someone simply talking with a friend over a cup of coffee about something that I've found interesting for one reason or another.

It is sort of like my wanting to talk about Christmas. Since I was a kid, Christmas has always been about family. Some forty or more years ago, because of this reason or that, my folks started having our family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Christmas Day was spent elsewhere. It may have been with the family of a girlfriend, or with friends, or maybe working as I did for many years.

When I was in the Marine Corps back in the early 1970s, I remember missing Christmas Eve with my family. In those day, I remember taking the duty so that a married Marine could have the time off. In that way, he could spend time with his family.

Being single most of my life, I found that I tried giving to others around this time of year. I was very young when I learned that there were those who have a lot less than I do even when I myself have nothing at all.

So for me, Christmas has always seemed more of a time for helping others and giving rather than actually receiving. And I know that sounds like a clichè, but I really found that it made me feel pretty good to help those with less than me. Yes, even when I was broke.

It's true. I remember being laid-off and on unemployment during Christmas one year but still found ways of helping others. Since I didn't have a wife and children to keep clothed and fed, I remember trying to do for others because they had a great deal more responsibility than I did. And frankly, looking back on those days, I now realize that it may not have been very much help but it was all I could do at the time. And yes, it made me feel good doing it.

There was a few years there when a few of my friends and I decided to find blankets for families. We packed up boxes of groceries and left them on doorsteps. We tried to make sure a senior had a hot meal and food in their pantry. A few of us actually did some handyman work that needed to be done for a few seniors who were having lean times. They themselves couldn't afford to get it done, so we did it. And frankly, we felt great about it.

I receive all sorts of email. Some great. Others not so great. Some funny and some just pure nasty. One of the more humorous letters came from someone who accused me of being "wealthy" and "really living in New York City."

I can assure everyone reading this that I do not live in New York City. My wife and I live here in beautiful Glencoe, California. My regular readers have read time and time again how we have a population of 189 here in this part of Calaveras County.

As for being "wealthy"? I don't know what the poverty statistics or the unemployment stats are for our area, but I know this is not what one can call an affluent area. I do know that there are those who simply do not have a lot. But even though that's the case for some, they do the best they can and their children seem happy.

A couple of days ago my wife and I, along with her parents, drove over to Railroad Flat, population about 400, to watch the school kids' Christmas program there. We knew many of the parents there. My wife knows many of the kids since she volunteers at the school's garden. She teaches them about plants and how to raise vegetables and such. My wife pointed out this youngster and that, telling me who they were and how great he or she is. My wife loves them all.

As I listened to the kids sing, I looked around the room and saw the pride and love on the faces of their parents. I couldn't help but nod knowing that there were those there that I know for a fact who don't have a lot, but they watched their kids and were happy and full of love for their children. Their children are well fed, clean, polite, and very respectful. And as I said before, all are very happy.

We don't have a school here in Glenoce. The kids here take a bus to go to the school in Railroad Flat. That's simply what country kids do. The school has less than 70 kids in the whole school. That's counting all from Kindergarten to the 6th grade. To my knowledge they only have a couple of teachers. And sadly, the school is always being threatened with being closed for good because of funding problems.

Many of the same parents with their children were at our American Legion post last night. I put on a red suit, and a fake wig and beard, before going to our American Legion post here in Glencoe. From behind my fogged up glasses, I watched folks lead their kids up to take pictures. After I asked if they've been helping their parents at home and if they were being good, the kids told me what they wanted. After that they were handed a candy cane and a small toy before being turned loose to chase the other kids around the place.

I'm happy to report that our American Legion post is not a bar. Though we have a bar, it is a post. We are as family friendly as the day is long. Fact is other than our Post Office, all we have here in Glencoe is our American Legion post. It is a place where friends and neighbors, their families and even their friends from out of town, all come and enjoy the friendship and closeness that our small piece of our great nation has to offer.

We don't have much in common with most folks in California. In fact, we don't have a lot in common with folks in most cities who don't know their neighbors or care about what's going on around them. We here in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Calaveras County really do look out for each other. People who live up here are hard working and proud. This place is special in that our friends and neighbors are our extended families.

No, I do not live in New York City. But if we count our blessings, then we're certainly wealthier than most elsewhere. If not in dollars, certainly in blessings. 

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. I hope the traffic is light where you call home. I hope the crowds at the stores are not so overwhelming that they take away from this time of year for you and yours.

Since it's only right that we remember and give thanks for the gift that was ours from God, I hope that you celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. Yes indeed, I hope and pray that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas.

Tom Correa


  1. God bless you tom,just keep doing what you do best, we enjoy your website, your thoughts and plain talking comments. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    1. Thank you Richard! Thank you so much for the gift of your kind words. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you like my website. It means more to me than you will ever know. May God Bless you and yours. Merry Christmas my friend!

  2. What a comforting story! I can personally vouch that Tom does NOT live in NY but he is WEALTHY because of his appreciation for family, life and God. He has lived an old fashioned, old school life style as long as I have known him (going back to the 80's). The story is real, and kindles my memories of him always running around trying to lift the spirits of those around him. I remember getting him a wool scarf for Christmas one year because I knew he working security on grave shifts and he would "talk story" about his shifts. His appreciation of that wool scarf was overwhelming to me.

    I tagged along side of him in College and quite honestly I learned quite a bit from him through the years. The story comes to three dimensional life for me. I was there for several of the activities he is writing about. Every deed he did was done discreetly and without pretension. His happiness when what he thought was a small really nothing gift brought so much happiness to the recipient was open, pure and wonderful. It was also contagious. I adopted many of these activities and understand completely the gift of giving.

    I don't see a case of writer's block here. I just read once again about this Cowboy who is just trying to matter. You write from your heart and not for praise or acclaim. You share who you are.

    This has been a very rough year, and people need to love and be loved in order to carry on. I think that is the place that your writing is born. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

    1. Dear Susie,
      I've known you longer than most. You are still too kind to me. Your strength and love for others has always been what makes you the wonderful woman that you are. I hope and pray that your Christmas is filled with the blessings of God. Merry Christmas!

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