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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Countdown to Christmas with Rebecca J. Clark

Hello and welcome to Day 22 of my Countdown to Christmas blog! Today’s featured guest is Rebecca J. Clark. Not only is Becky here to share a Christmas memory with us, but to give some advice often overlooked. With the snow swirling down on the bristly pine needles, the twinkle lights sparkling like jewels, and a log in the hearth, I invite you to come take a listen.

Oliver saunters out, blowing kisses to Becky as he sets the coffee and tea service on the table. Then he slices a huge piece of apple pie and grins his roguish grin.

Sharon: Becky has a very vivid Christmas memory to share with us. Becky, tell us about it.

A Blazing Christmas

One of the most vivid Christmas memories I have is the year our tree caught fire. It was Christmas morning, after all the presents had been opened. I was about four or five years old. I remember sitting in the living room by myself, playing with a new toy. All the grown ups had disappeared to the kitchen--cooking, cleaning or doing whatever it is that adults do on holidays. Something caught my eye and I glanced up to see flames from the fireplace leaping onto the pine garland across our mantle. For a moment, I just watched, fascinated, as if it wasn’t really happening. I remember the flames being really pretty and colorful. I knew I needed to call for help, but for just another moment, I watched those flames jump and dance and climb up the bricks of the fireplace. Finally, the spell broke and I called out to the grownups. They rushed out in a panic and quickly got into a line, filling pots and pans and bowls with water, then tossing it onto the fire. I remember thinking they were all acting a bit crazy. I mean, what was the big deal?
The only lasting damage was to the bricks of the fireplace and to the painting above the mantle. We lived in that house for many more years. We never did replace the painting—the one with scorch marks on the frame. And the bricks surrounding the fireplace remained blackened in areas from the fire. I never thought about it at the time, but maybe my parents kept these reminders in plain site to remind them of how lucky we were. Things could have been so much worse. What if the nearby tree had also caught fire? Yikes.

Now that I’m grown up, every year when we put up our tree, I remember that Christmas, and contemplate how different my life could have been. And I feel truly blessed.

Gentle warning: Please keep your live trees, garlands and wreaths away from open flames. Never leave a lit candle or fire unattended. Keep your tree watered, and take it down as soon as it becomes dry. Or better yet, buy an artificial tree. You can always spray pine-scented aerosol for that wonderful Christmas smell. Stay safe and Merry Christmas!

Oliver comes out with watering can. After unplugging the tree, he waters the tree, double checking for dry branches. Then he checks the fire in the hearth, proud he’d put the tree clear on the other side of the expansive parlor. Grinning at Becky, he steals a kiss under the mistletoe!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Rebecca J. Clark
BORROWED STILETTOS--February 10, 2010, from The Wild Rose Press
"Sassy and Sexy and Steamy...Oh my!"
"Once Written, Twice Shy," a blog for writers who aren't natural extroverts
Merry Christmas Comments


Sharon Donovan said...

Let's have a warm welcome for Rebecca Clark. Becky, come on out! Yes, today's post is not the usual but a gentle reminder to beware when it comes to live trees in your home. Thanks, Becky for sharing such a personal story with us. But in keeping with the spirit of the season, Oliver has plenty of steaming coffee, tea, cocoa and his spiked eggnog. And here he comes with fresh platters of sugar cookies, nut rolls, chocolate covered strawberries and turtles. Enjoy!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Rebecca,
Very timely warning, you had quite an amazing escape as a child. Incredible how quickly a fire can take hold.
Merry Christmas

Cate Masters said...

A good reminder, Rebecca! Too often, we hear of families losing everything to fire, especially tragic at this time of year.
Happy holidays!

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Hi everyone! Sharon, thanks so much for having me. And Oliver--nice job in keeping your tree fresh and watered. :)

I hope this post didn't come across as a downer this time of year, but more of a gentle reminder of what could happen if we're not vigilant.

Margaret--thanks for stopping by. It's kind of scary how quickly fire can spread. I remember thinking it strange how freaked out the adults were afterward. I was just like, "What's the big deal? Where are my Barbies?" Ah, the ignorance of youth.

Cate--Happy holidays, back atcha.

Oliver, I'd love a cup of hot coffee, with a splash of cream and sugar and extra caffeine, please. I didn't sleep well last night--dreaming of my massive to do list, I suppose.

I'll just be lounging over here by the warm fire if anyone needs me.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

I know it's early, but I really would like a piece of warm apple pie. Oliver, would you be so kind? You're a doll.


Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver struts out, wildly winking at Becky as he feeds her warm apple pie in front of the fire. He brings the coffee to her lips and hopes for another kiss.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

I feel like I'm cheating on my dear husband. Oliver, you really must be more discreet...

P.L. Parker said...

Hi Becky, Sharon - YIKES, what a scary story but a good reminder. Happy Holidays - and may the blessings of the season be yours. Oliver - I need some of that spiked eggnog.

Linda Swift said...

Good morning, Rebecca. Well, at least it is morning though I never find too much good about this time of day. Great reminder about safety. We don't use live trees. You know, use artificial and save a tree. But we do burn lots of candles and that can be dangerous, too. Oh, and good morning Sharon and Oliver. And I could use some of that spikes eggnog, too. Well, never mind the egg, just the nog, please, Oliver.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Hey P.L.! Nice to see you.

Linda, I'm not much of a morning person either.

I have a candle story, too. My mom left a candle burning at her house a few years ago. Left it on the bathroom counter. The counter got so hot, it caught fire. Burned much of her bathroom.

So be careful, my friends. Enjoy your fires and your live trees and your candles, but keep an eye on them.


Laurie London said...

Gosh, as Becky's sister, I don't remember that event at all. Funny how kids process things differently. I was probably in the other room, wondering what all the fuss was about. Maybe that's why I've had an artificial tree for years, I just suppressed the reason.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi everyone, thanks for dropping by. And by all means, have some of Oliver's eggnog or just the nog. Wink wink. Becky, wow, a candle fire too! That is too much.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Laurie, it was our house on Baker Street. I don't remember anything about the before or after, or who was there. Isn't it funny how you don't remember it at all? Do you remember the scorched frame and fireplace?


Judy said...

I really enjoyed the post. I hate to see these tragedies during any time, but when they happen around the holidays it just seems worse to us.

I am getting fat with Oliver and all his goodies!!

Mary Ricksen said...

That is a memory you will never forget! I'm so glad you didn't lose your tree too!
Those are the memories that make up Christmas.
Good luck Rebecca, I hope that Oliver has been treating you well.
Funny how one family member is so impressed by an event, that another doesn't even remember. Maybe she wasn't home?

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Laurie. Nice to meet you. I guess what affects one member doesn't affect the other in the same. We all see things in a different way. Just count your blessings. Have a Merry Christmas

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Hi Mary and Judy--thanks for stopping by. Sharon and Oliver have been the perfect hostess and host. Although I think Oliver's been slipping something stronger than milk into my hot cocoa...

Rebecca J. Clark said...

G'night, everyone. It's been a long, but enjoyable day here with Sharon and Oliver. I got up at 4:30 a.m. to be here and now it's almost midnight. Guess I'd better get home, eh? Mr. Clark will suspect there's something going on between me and Oliver...

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver smiles a bone-melting smile at Becky's last remark...then casts a wicked wink.
I would like to thank everyone for dropping by to chat with Becky today. And a special thank you to my featured guest, Rebecca Clark. Great job, Becky! Giving us a gentle reminder to use caution when it comes to the care of a live tree and candles is something not to be ignored. Good advice. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Wishing you and Mr. Clark a very Merry Christmas! (Oliver pouts)
And as always, big shout out to Hywela Lyn for decorating my blog with such frolic and merriment. Thanks, Lyn!
Until next time, may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.
Love and Blessings,