My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope

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Hanging On|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope

A break from the everyday grind lent me peace

I woke up Christmas morning to a blustery icy wind and the invitation from the corners of my home to get up and get out with Jernee in tow. Just before 07:00 a.m., I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active. We walked around the complex, toward the wind, our faces kissed by nature’s undeniable presence, and attempted to make our walk as productive but short as possible.

The air smelled like buttered biscuits and honey — so sweet; a come-hither-ish enjoyment that no one could deny. I was content. I felt loved. I knew the days after this special holiday would also be tests, but I had the feeling they would not be hard to pass. I can only hold fast to the idea this will be so. Jernee bounced about as if a new spring was in her steps — she sashayed ecstatically, happy to be out in the early morning air doing what she loved to do most.

I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active.

I braced myself for each brush of the wind, tightening up my jacket every few moments — checking my gloves, fiddling with my pockets. We did not linger on for the usual mile; we didn’t even do a half-mile. Christmas morning’s walk was truly about business — handling it and getting back inside as quickly as we could. The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life. I aimed to keep my health intact, and I foresee success in that area.

I opted to spend the holiday alone. I even began celebrating it Wednesday night by turning off my cell phone, but not before alerting my most loved humans of this change. I had it in mind to enjoy every single minute of my mini-vacation, and this included as few distractions as possible. There are holidays I revel in spending alone, and there are holidays when the pain of spending them alone hits me like a freight train.

But with COVID-19 looming its ugly head around every corner and hitting us harder than anything we’ve ever seen — it felt safer to remain at home. It felt safer to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and be in a heated space while doing so. According to a British study, they found — one in four adults feel as though they would spend Christmas alone this year. And while this is in the UK, the US is facing the same restrictions in various states because of a virus we cannot (and some do not want to) control.

When we found satisfaction from our walk, we came back inside. I fed Jernee and began prepping for my breakfast; sausage patties, buttermilk biscuits, grits, and a glass of eggnog. I savored every bite, thankful for the blessings of shelter, food, and the ability to adapt whenever necessary.

Christmas can be about more than survival. It can be an opportunity to learn to thrive in your aloneness. — Stephanie Foo, The New York Times, December 2020.

For those of you who have had to experience this holiday alone for the first time because of so many drastic changes this year, I can imagine your sadness. I understand your discontentment. I have been there — done that. Before COVID-19, I had learned how to properly love myself and be with myself without feeling as though I needed physical accompaniment from another. Having someone around to take in the wonders of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but this year — I needed the alone time. I wanted it more than I ever have.

The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life.

Christmas dinner|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

After breakfast, I began making my crockpot chili, which I paired with garlic-cheese cornbread. As the sauce blended with the seasonings, the smell wafted throughout my home and I only felt happiness. I could only feel happiness. My Christmas morning smelled a lot like hope. It smelled a lot like new beginnings and purposeful opportunities. I delighted in watching Christmas-themed animated movies and a few other movies too. I finally sat down and engaged in Hulu’s Happiest Season, which was shortly followed by On-Demanding Ip Man: Kung Fu Master. I read, wrote, watched more animated cartoons, ate heartily, and enjoyed snuggle time with Jernee.

I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more. This was the perfect holiday — I needed the rest. I earned the rest. My mom and I planned to see each other the following day instead, and Saturdays every other month are usually our meeting days. This should be no different. I look forward to our time together and I know she is looking forward to seeing both me and Jernee too.

The best thing about this Christmas for me is the non-rush of it all. I did not tackle any crowds. I kept it light on any shopping, doing it all online, and sent the parents of the babies and little ones in my life, money via CashApp so they could bear the weight of getting gifts for their children. Many will probably venture to say their holiday spent alone makes it a lonely one, but I will testify — this year, I welcomed the alone time. It provided me with seconds, minutes, and hours I should have found earlier on to do what I should have been doing, which is — truly enjoy myself in the comfort of my home.

Instead of remaining home out of fear and disinterest in the uncivilized, I remained home because it called to me. And I answered.

I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more.

I woke up on Christmas morning and the air was different — it was fresher and crisper. There had been a newness to every cloud and a hint of love in every gust of wind. There had also been hope as the silver lining on what we could consider a gloomy experience for others and a sprinkle of selflessness lurking in the bushes. Peace wrapped itself around me and reminded me of what it looks like sitting with oneself and admiring what I see.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent Christmas alone and doing so opened my eyes to what they had been closed to for a long time — we are, in fact, gifts to ourselves.


Originally published on Medium.

Featured Poem of the Week

Erica Hu is a lovely poet who presents in-depth storytelling, vivid imagery, and bold phrasing in her work. I have been reading her for quite some time on Medium and was excited to receive an email from her to become a part of the A Cornered Gurl team. She graced us with an awesome debut poem in October, however, this poem below is the one I want to feature. The tone of it is inviting and is a reflection of the author speaking of her grandfather. In short, it’ll pull at your heartstrings. And now, the featured poem, Old Radio.


Old Radio

for my yéyé (grandpa)

photo credit: weiwei

“When the old radio stopped working,
no one knew what to do.”

“And that’s okay,” he says,
“with half a pint of whisky,
I can be on my way.”

Wrinkles on his hand
grow like wild ivy on brownstone.
So at the age of eight, 
I started practicing farewell.
Fearing the loss of recognition,
I take pictures of his green vest,
tai-chi shirt,
birthday cakes,

praying
he stays the same.

But now,
on the westward train,
I’ve lost my mind
thinking about returning
to a place with light
but no truth

and how time is an open wound
that neither festers nor heals.

“It’s not that bad,”
he says,
“after I close my eyes,
at least,
for the first time,
there’s no need to worry about dinner tomorrow.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Thanksgiving Eve: A Poem

my blood can’t handle any more apologies, insistence on the right to celebrate genocide…

Thanksgiving Eve: A Poem

A poem by the lovely Jennifer Patino. Let it sink in. Allow it to marinate for a moment in your bones. However you spend this day, I hope you do it safely and with more awareness than you should probably have.

Please go to the original poem to “like” and “comment.” Her words deserve that. Peace and blessings.

Getting to Know Me (An Audio Poem)

Community art: Different Women. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

2019 MTV Awards Musical Performance by Missy Elliott

Getting to Know Me

An Audio Poem

My kid sister probes me
for information. She needs to
know more about me.
Our upbringing was an odd one.
I’m more of a mother-figure to her
than a big sister; with 19 years
separating us, she “ma’ams” me
rather than “Ooh, girl” or 
“Child, pleases” me and it just seems weird.

She urges me to open up, to share,
but I’m not really the type to complain
more than I need to or
give more of me than I should.
I’ve learned who to shed skin
with and who not to and this isn’t
to say that my sister isn’t to
be trusted, no, that’s not it.
I’m just . . . careful now.

I want to vent sometimes to her,
I want her to hear me when I’m
in distress, yet there’s this overwhelming
feeling to protect her too
even if it’s from me.
She assures me she’s old
enough to digest what I
dole out but I’m hesitant.

I’ve lived a far different life
and my demons tend to follow
me along my sacred paths and
my sister is still growing,
still learning. I don’t want her
to know the me that drives
people away. I’m still working
on that me.
I need her around.

I’d hate for her to be one more
person I find myself chasing
after; another heart to grip.
People want you to strip
bare, stand naked before them,
but many of them aren’t ready
for the curves and folds and
two-toned skin. They just want
to see more of you even if
more of you isn’t beautiful.

It’s one more thing they can
hang over your head, dangle like
a dagger, cut you to the quick.
I’m trying. I swear, I am.
I ask her to be patient with me,
to understand — I have a way
and my way is comforting.
I can’t be rushed.

She understands.
Thank God in heaven.
She understands.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

The Luring Scent of Fudge Brownies

Flash Fiction

A fresh batch of brownies lay on the counter. We sniff the luring scent, slip on our clothes, and rush down the stairs. I’ve got my heart set on the two middle brownies & my sister craves two from the corners. She’s eager to dash from the entrance of our kitchen to the sweet smell of love and hard work.

Our mom outdid herself this time. We both knew it. The fresh scent travels throughout our home and wafts around every corner of every room. My sister looks at me, I look at her — hesitantly; we measure each other up — lingering in our newfound glory. I nod my head toward her and watch her cherub-like face light up. That’s her cue to take a bite.

We sink our teeth into the gooey goodness of chocolate. Every morsel melts in our mouths — we land on a small slice of heaven. The brownies are both chewy and moist and filled with everything we could have possibly dreamed up if anyone were to ask us.

We take another bite in unison — fudge drips on to our fingers. I lick remnants of evidence from my hands and advise my kid sister to do the same. There’s no hiding the fact that we’ve had our share of this exquisite dessert and we will not deny it if asked, but . . .

How could anyone ignore the luring scent of fudge brownies?


*This began as a response to a Twitter BraveWrite prompt. The prompt word was batch. I liked this so much, I decided to expound on it here.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.