Thursday, December 18, 2014


Five Views of a Christmas Tree
By Judith Cullen

(c) 2014

View Three

“There’s no way I am paying good money for a tree that looks like that!”  When you grow up in the Evergreen State and you move to the heartland of America, trying to buy a Christmas tree can be disappointing.  They are shipped in from whence you came, and I know what I felt like after three days in a truck and I was still fully alive.  No offense is intended to the good people who purvey holiday tree joy to the residents of the Midwest or to the aesthetic tastes of those same good folk.  To me, the color just wasn’t right, the limbs seemed weak.  I didn’t even have to take a close look.  I could see that they were “lacking” from the parking area. 

There were also a lot of “shirred” trees.  That’s were they trim a trees branches with a hedge trimmer so that they fit some sort of pre-determined notion of symmetry and perfection.  I hate those trees.  When you come from a land brimming with “the real deal” these all seem fake.  I felt the same way about the puny apples I saw in the grocery, waxed to within an inch of their lives to increase their visual appeal.  “I know how long you’ve been in the packing case,” I would think as I passed them by.  To me, a good apple should rival a softball in diameter, not a wiffle ball.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Image courtesy of  Ts88Rm at
Five Views of a Christmas Tree
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

View Two

I had not yet reached the first legal portal of “majority” yet.  That would come in May of the next year.  This was, however, my first “adult” Christmas.  Perhaps it was actually the final Christmas of an era.  The tree had come out with the regiment of long tradition, and stood proudly in its place before the front windows, alight and sparkling.

As was also traditional, we brought the presents down and placed them under the tree on Christmas Eve.  This ritual had very defined steps which we never deviated from.  As youngest, I always went first.  There was the Santa hat to be worn, and the string of jingle bells on its crocheted red string.  Everyone but the “present-er” closed their eyes, munched on a Christmas cookie while the stereo played holiday music, and the gift delivering member of the family Ho-ho-ho’d their way into the living room and placed their presents under the tree.  If you had a lot of packages to deliver, it could be a challenge to “ho-ho” that long.  Mom always went last, and Dad had to sometimes stage her stuff in the adjacent front hall.  Since she wrapped for both herself and Dad, she always had the most packages to place.  Dad’s presents to her were wrapped by kid-assist.  We’d open our eyes after each family member had done their placing, and were appropriately impressed, with much “Oooo-ing” and “Aaahh-ing.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ~ "Five Views of a Christmas Tree" ~ View One

free image from
"Now, the tree is decorated with bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness. And they are welcome. Innocent and welcome be they ever held, beneath the branches of the Christmas Tree, which cast no gloomy shadow! . . . I hear a whisper going through the leaves. 'This, in commemoration of the law of love and kindness, mercy and compassion. This, in remembrance of Me!'"  

~ Charles Dickens

The publishing may be done for the year, but not the writing.  The writing never ends, thankfully.

Inspired by Charles Dickens 1850 short story A Christmas Tree, in which a man recounts the journey of life guided through the boughs and decorations of a festive fir, I have taken five views of the role that these iconic expressions of joy and celebration have played in my own life.  I've written a five part tribute of my own. I'll be publishing it, by section or "View" between now and the 23rd.

Here's the first - Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Convenient for stocking stuffing, or with the new Kindle Matchbook program, you can get a lovely discount when you buy both the Kindle and Print version of any title. So buy them both, keep the Kindle for yourself, and gift the print version to a friend or for your part in that great holiday tradition: the gift exchange.

Now Available - A TRIO OF TRAVELING TALES - the last collection for 2014 featuring three great new original stories. This Trio includes: "The Unexpected Path", "The Empire Builder", and the popular "Lawrence Street."

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback

All my titles are available in time for whatever gift-giving necessity you have.  I doesn't have to be dawned with holly and mistletoe.  It might involve a kinara or a dreidel. It could include the burning of a Yule Log.  Does not matter.

Who on your list might enjoy one of these? Click and see!

Monday, December 1, 2014


It's official! Coffee Shop Talk is live today!  

There's a bit of something for a lot of different people in this collection: humor, insight, poetry, reflection.  And then there's the name.  If you like Coffee, Shopping, Talking, or any combination therein - YOU SCORE!  The collection seemed to write itself, actually.  I just woke up one day and said "Whoa!  Lookee there!"

Coffee Shop Talk includes twelve essay/stories, and a smattering of the best of this year's poetry, including "December Sojourn" which will be featured in the Tacoma's Laureate Listening Project launching in January, and "Blue Lotus Dream" from this year's Art-Inspired Writing Project with Proctor Arts Fest.

One story for each month of the year - though it takes a lot less time to read them than that :
  • Coffee Shop Talk
  • What Wiles?
  • Seeing Red
  • The Pink T-Shirt
  • Finding Mck
  • Invisible Me
  • Go Slow
  • Walter's Sundat
  • You Are Not alone
  • My Mother's Hands
  • Thankful Forward
Amazon takes a few days to get things totally synced, but at present you can purchase the book for KINDLE or in PAPERBACK. My collections are compact, and meant for reading "On-the-Go" or for gift giving - they fit great in your average sized Christmas stocking!

You can also find my other titles from 2013 and 2104 by clicking in the tabs at the top of the page. THEY ALL fit in stockings!

Friday, November 28, 2014

GIVING THANKS: "Thankful Forward"

Thankful Forward

By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

I suppose this essay should come out for New Years.  That’s the precedent, really.  Except, if you think about it, do you really wait until the 26th of December to think about next year, what it means to you and what you want for it?  I doubt it.  If you were a business, you might have been thinking about it while you were spitting out watermelon seeds in July’s blazing sun.  More likely, you were thinking about it after last year’s holiday debris had been relegated to the recycling bin.  So, November is quite late to be doing this.

I am looking ahead to 2015 as I have looked forward to no other year in recent memory.  I can’t quite explain it.  Something in my gut tells me it will be different.  Of course, that’s what we all want from a new year.  However, I think I have already put my finger on what is going to make 2015 distinct, and I am beginning right now to be thankful for it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Thanksgiving 1968, with "Grandma Lillie"
My Mother’s Hands
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

When I was a little girl, family members of various generations swore that I was the very image of my maternal Grandma.  “That’s Lillie!” they would exclaim, and reference her 8th grade graduation picture as proof of the likeness.

My Grandma was someone who appeared to be very much in command of things.  She was a strong personality who always seemed to be the key decision maker.  My Grandpa, suffering significantly from the onset of lung cancer when I knew him, was much softer spoken.  I remembered him best in his recliner, and from the polished rocks he tumbled in his workshop.