The Christmas Card From Strangers

Pamela Hill NettletonArticles, EssaysLeave a Comment

This December week, I received precisely one dozen Christmas cards. They’ve been collecting day by day in the garage, slowly shedding their potential viral load  out there next to the band saw.  I have a large family, and the holiday letters and annual summaries typically numbered many more times that. But this is the social media age, and one of the treasures of that technology is that I do not see my cousins once a year on a flat Kodak card but weekly in Facebook and Instagram. I watch their children and grandchildren grow in increments rather than suffer the shock that yearly photos from afar can deliver of seeing a child I remember as a toddler suddenly appear six … Read More

Christmas Jell-O

Pamela Hill NettletonEssaysLeave a Comment

IT JUST WOULDN’T be Christmas without Jell-O. Holiday traditions are built around this concoction of sweeteners, dyes, and stuff that hardens like amber to preserve the items that are lovingly placed in it. The lunch ladies at St. Raphael’s Elementary School were masters of suspending the four food groups in Jell-O. Carrots were an odd and particular favorite—not traditionally sliced, but shredded in a frenzy. Flurries of carrot peelings, snowing in Jell-O. Now that I am an adult and have struggled myself with kitchen mysteries, I wonder how they managed to get those carrot peelings to stand on end as the Jell-O hardened, forever ethereal in a vertical dance of keratin. My pitiful attempts only result in a clotted mass of … Read More

Hating the Whos

Pamela Hill NettletonEssaysLeave a Comment

THIS IS THE TALE of the holiday letter and the handgun, with the legend of the discarded tree and the decapitated other tree tossed in. For unimportant reasons, it wasn’t until the morning of Jan. 6 that I sat down by the roaring fireplace to write my annual holiday letter. Let’s call it an early valentine greeting; mine had been a hectic season. Cup of tea steaming on the sofa table and down pillows plumped around me, I was ready to compose a heartwarming note of at least limping genius, when the police arrived. Out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter that I sprang from the sofa to, well, you know. Two officers stood on the corner over a … Read More