The Best of Holidailies

Holidailies 2007December 30, 2007

We’re coming to the end of the 2007 Holidailies season, billed by Jette and Chip as “Holidailies Reloaded.” What had started in 2000 as a personal effort by Jette to encourage herself and others to give “the gift of our prose” to their regular readers mushroomed into an event with banner ads and sponsorships and prizes. The trappings threatened to overwhelm the joyous spirit that infused the original idea, and for 2007 the organizers scaled back. They didn’t even advertise that the portal was open for registration, figuring that anyone who truly wanted to be part of it would find them.

I was one of those people. As the first of December neared and I couldn’t find any official notification of the 2007 season, I wrote to Jette, apologizing if mine were the three millionth note she’d gotten, especially if she had decided that the whole thing was too much work for another year. (It takes a lot of work and technical expertise on the administrative end to make managing the portal easy for participants.) And I got back a cheery note telling me when portal registration would open.

One feature of Holidailies that Chip and Jette had considered eliminating was the “Best of Holidailies” picks. They didn’t want even a little bit of competitiveness or elitism to infiltrate the spirit of the effort. They changed their minds when they were persuaded that the feature does not really drive a wedge between participants and that it would be missed if it were gone.

I have no idea who is on the panel of distinguished readers who judge which daily posts are exceptional. I don’t even know how many of them there are. I know only that the first time one of my posts was so designated (“Gratuities,” about tipping my newspaper carrier) I felt deeply honored. The Holidailies community is my peer group in the world of online journaling. All I’ve ever really wanted from my writing and for my writing is recognition, and to get it from people who are good and careful and interesting writers themselves makes me proud. I scored again in 2005 with “The Close  and Holy Darkness,” about being alone on Christmas Eve. Last year, two were chosen (“Ornaments,” about choosing one for Lynn’s new home, and “A Stranger in a Strange Land,” about the presence of Alf in our crèche). And this year, to my utter amazement and deep delight taken in humility, the panel saw fit to honor three pieces of my work: “The Potter’s Field,” “A Right Jolly Old Elf,” and “Yes, Lynn, We Do Have to Watch Dragnet Again.”

Of those three, the one about the potter’s field in the cemetery in Wyoming is my favorite. It springs from the concerns that I carry in my heart and that find expression in my fiction — the importance of being remembered, the way that having one’s name spoken aloud from time to time means that one is never really gone, that as long as someone remembers us we continue to have significance.

But of all the Holidailies pieces I’ve read this year, my favorite is My Girl Is Five, a mother’s birthday letter to her daughter. It reminded me of the way I felt about Lynn when she was five. “You are my greatest pride and hardest work,” writes the mother. My girl is twenty-two now, no longer much work but still my greatest pride. You can bet I’ll be back next year to see what this mother says when her girl is six.

To be included on the notify list, e-mail me:
margaretdeangelis [at] gmail [dot] com (replace the brackets with @ and a period)

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