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Monthly Archives: December 2012

special little tree


Excerpt from “A Friend Request” by C. L. Gillmore

Jake took my hands in his and pulled me up from the couch. He brushed my hair back with his hand and kissed me. Together we walked up the steps to my bedroom.

A Christmas tree nestled in the corner on my nightstand lighted the bedroom. Jake surprised me with the little evergreen tree, along with donuts and chocolate milk, this morning.

After some searching, we found several strings of lights, two boxes of glass ornaments and an unopened package of tinsel tucked inside a small box next to the furnace… leftovers from my tree last year in Macomb.

Together we decorated the tree, shared the donuts and chocolate milk, and listened to Jake’s “Time Out” album by Dave Brubeck. When we finished, Jake carefully carried the tree upstairs and placed it on the nightstand next to my bed.

Tonight the tree looked more beautiful than ever.

The multi-colored lights—blinking rhythmically on and off to the jazz sounds of Dave Brubeck—cast shadowed patterns of pine branches across the ceiling and down the walls.

The bedroom felt cool, smelled of a pine and shimmered in the darkness. Magical. That was the first word that came to mind. Magical.

I had no idea just how magical the room or the night would be.

Decking the halls.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas? Even with the cooler temperatures, shorter days and lovely snow-capped mountains to the north, I’m not sure I will ever get used to “decking the halls” in this sunny, warm climate! Don’t get me wrong. I do love it. But deep down inside, my heart will always travel home to the Midwest at Christmas.

Our family Christmas officially began each year when we bundled up the boys and headed to the local tree farm in search of the “perfect” tree. My husband, two sons and I tramped through the snow and cold looking for just the right one and invariably ended up two hours later in front of the very first tree we picked out. After my “men” sawed the tree down, as I motherly cautioned about severed fingers, arms and legs, my husband let the boys drive our Toyota van back to load the tree. The first year they took turns sitting on his lap, barely able to see above the steering wheel. In 1994, our last Midwest Christmas before moving to Arizona, the boys drove back on their own as we waited next to that final perfect tree.

Wishing all of you the sweetest holiday memories…

Please Santa?

The roads were snow-covered and slippery…


Excerpt from “A Friend Request,” sequel novel to “Uncommon Bond” by C L Gillmore

The house was quiet now except for Christmas music playing softly on the stereo. Andy Williams was singing, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” How ironic.

I fixed myself a bowl of chili, cut a piece of cornbread and slathered it with lots of butter and poured a glass of milk. I ate two decorated sugar cookies first. I could eat my dessert first. I could do whatever I wanted.

I washed the bowl, spoon and glass and put them in the dish drainer and called Ren. I wished her Merry Christmas and listened as she told me about her gifts and what her family was doing. Then she listened as I told her about my gifts and what I was doing.

The roads were snow-covered and slippery so Ren and I agreed to walk and meet each other halfway to model our new clothes. Walking in the snow was much more fun than driving in it.

There were big fluffy snowflakes falling in the light of the moon that night as I walked to meet Ren. My boots swished quietly through the glistening snow. It was cold and quiet and beautiful. In the distance I heard the bell from the big Catholic Church on the hill peal nine times and then began to chime “Silent Night.” I sang to myself as I walked alone silently through the snow.

Ren and I met halfway and used the sidewalk as a runway to model our new Christmas outfits. We munched on sugar cookies I’d wrapped in a paper towel and stuck into my pocket, talked about what we got for Christmas and listened to “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds on Ren’s new transistor radio. She had earphones too and we took turns listening with them. So cool.

Later we hugged and wished each other Merry Christmas and walked back home…Ren to her big family and me to Andy Williams and my dog, Dottie.

Ren never asked questions that night. We never talked about it. We didn’t have to.

I remembered this Christmas for the rest of my life. It was the last one with my mother.


Tenderly tied memories…

Tenderly tied memories

“Within the branches of our tree,
Nestled among each ornament,
Are tenderly tied memories
That link the past to present.”

~C. L. Gillmore, 2012~

Early this morning, while the house was still and dark, I walked into the family room, turned the Christmas music on softly, relit the white candle inside the glass hurricane and plugged in the tree lights. I wrapped the green and white quilt snugly around me, settled back into the soft leather armchair and surveyed this year’s tree from top to bottom…the gold wire star on top, the red and green glass ball ornaments, the glittered pear and apple ornaments, the cascading ribbon garland…and the mesmerizing bubble lights.

I watched as one-by-one each light warmed the liquid inside and sent tiny bubbles floating upward inside the small glass cylinders. The red and green glass ornaments reflected the glow of the bubble lights and the entire tree shimmered and percolated in the darkness. The quiet beauty of the tree made me smile…let me remember.

The bubble lights take me back to Muscatine, Iowa and Christmas dinners with my mom at Aunt Glady’s and Uncle Frank’s apartment on East Second Street. They always placed a small artificial tree in the front window adorned with multi-colored bubble lights. I don’t remember much about the dinners—what we ate or the gifts we exchanged—but I do remember Christmas music playing softly in the background and watching the bubble lights.

The sparkly gold star atop the tree reminds me of a misshapen star cut from cardboard and covered in aluminum foil. The star topped a small, prickly cedar tree my mom chopped down near the side of a graveled road the Christmas after my dad died. My sister and I made red and green paper chain garlands and cut out white snowflakes to decorate the tree. I don’t remember presents that year but I do remember a beautiful little tree, paper chains, snowflakes and a silver star.

The glass ornaments remind me of salt-dough handprints our sons, Adam and Aaron, carefully crafted and wrapped for us. The handprints grew larger with each passing Christmas and were lovingly hung next to school pictures on our tree year after year. Now grandchildren’s handprint ornaments adorn the Christmas trees in their homes.

The glittered ornaments remind me of decorated dog bones, personalized stockings and miniature knitted coats hung on the tree in memory of each sweet dog that shared our homes, our hearts and loved us unconditionally.

Most of these treasured decorations are gone, lost over time. But deep within the branches of each year’s tree—beneath the star and sprinkled among the many ornaments and ribbon garland—are tenderly tied memories of Christmases past. Beloved faces, places, smiles and laughter, sounds, smells and bittersweet tears— packed and unpacked year after year—priceless reminders of love’s pure light.

Wishing all of you the sweetest holiday memories…and opportunities for creating even more. Cheryl

Lost in thoughts this Christmas Day

child praying

Lost in thoughts this Christmas Day
Tender memories drift my way
Riding the winds of childhood joys
When we were the little girls and boys.

Christmas trees, tinsel and lights
New Pjs and the longest of nights
Cookies for Santa and whispered wishes
Farm sets, trucks, dollies and dishes

Away in a manger, Jesus and a star
Shepherds and Wise men traveling afar
Ruffled dresses, white shirts and ties
Love’s pure light through children’s eyes

Lost in thoughts this Christmas Eve
I pray that we may still believe
In all that’s tender, good and right
Within our hearts this Christmas night.

~C. L. Gillmore, December 2011~

The 2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Winner!

Announcing The 2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Winners!!!

CL Gillmore Uncommon Bond INDI Publishing





Jake remembers…

Excerpt from “A Friend Request” by C L Gillmore, sequel novel to “Uncommon Bond.”
Eight of us huddled together for warmth that morning at the Greyhound bus station- Cash, Sam, Jerry, Ren, Max, Gloria, Rose and me.
We watched through the fogged up bus windows as Ben walked down the center aisle, situated himself near a window and despite the bitter cold, slid the glass window open as far as it would go.We shared a few last comments, jokes and bits of advice with him, trying to keep the conversation light for as long as we possibly could. He and Ren held hands through the window. She sporting Ben’s big, clunky class ring on her left hand. She promised to wait for Ben. And Ben promised to write her every day. They believed one another because they were in love. Hell, that’s just how easily it happens when you’re young.Could you actually be in love at 18 or even at 20? I knew the answer to that then and now. Love can happen at any age. There are no rules when it comes to affairs of the heart. You can fall in love just as hard and as deep when you’re young and inexperienced as you can when you are older and filled with experience. The capacity for the heart to love another shows no age preference. Love is timeless.

That morning our short time together passed in a blur of nervous laughter, forced smiles, fleeting promises and freezing temperatures. And before we knew…it was time to go.

Ben wiped tears from his cheeks with his free hand, clutching Ren’s hand with the other, as we said and then waved our final good-byes. There were no dry eyes that morning, only frozen tears on bright red cheeks.

Tears for the lost innocence of us all.

Ben reluctantly let go of Ren’s hand and then her fingers as the bus slowly edged away from the terminal and away from all of us…tires crunching in the snow, the smoky gray exhaust plume spiraling behind.

The open window framed Ben’s smiling face as we watched his right hand and fingers form the peace sign. In turn, we smiled, raised our gloved hands and flashed the sign back to him. We could still see his hand, raised in the peace sign and extended out the window as the bus made its final turn at the end of the block.

Our friend—my childhood friend—Ben was gone.

We went back to our apartments, our part-time jobs, our college classes and the band.

Ben went to war in the jungles of a country called Vietnam and over the next two years he would see and do things that would forever change him.

It was a reality check for all of us that day. It was winter, 1967.

Peace. Love. War.