Winner of the 2014 Dickens Contest: “Christmas with Family”

 Congratulations to Sean Campbell, winner of our Second Annual Dickens Christmas Contest!

And what, pray tell, has Sean won?
1. A certificate certifying his certified win;
2. A copy of Selected Writings from Michiganders Post, Vol. 1, 2013-14; and
3. Publication in
Selected Writings from Michiganders Post, Vol. 2, 2014-15, forthcoming in the fall of 2015.

Congratulations to our finalists, Pardeep Toor and Matthew Wilson, as well! And, our gratitude goes out to everyone who participated this year. We were pleased to see such a robust group of writers coming out from behind their bookshelves to join us for this annual holiday festivity. We hope to see you all again for the next go ’round.

Without further adieu…

“Christmas with Family” by Sean Campbell

Once upon a time–of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve–Obediah sat busy in his house. Twelve months had passed since he last sat in this chair, the bulrush-caned rocker his father had made as a wedding gift for his bride-to-be so many years ago. Obie sat as he did every Christmas Eve in recent memory, sitting silently and gently rocking, contemplating the small tin on the mantle above his hearth. His hands were occupied, once again, carving his pipe for the new year.

Obie had cut this year’s burl from a gnarled mountain laurel in the foothills of northern Georgia, walking back from his brother’s funeral the summer before last. He had taken the Greyhound to Asheville in order to arrive at the service on time, but decided before leaving that he would walk back home through the mountains as he did when he was young. Time was he could make that journey in three easy days; that summer, though, it took him the better part of a week. A year and a half on he still hadn’t got over the pain, or maybe it was just new pains that had come upon him since then. Either way, it still hurt.

His Papaw used to call it spoonwood, and twisty as it was it did most certainly make for fine spoons. Course the leaves would make you sicker’n a hound dog et some grapes, he’d say, like old Bo when he got into them muscadines that once, but still, the wood worked plenty good for turnin out a smokin bowl.

After all these months drying on his mantle it was easy to shape, and Obie whittled away with his old Case folder, leaving just the right grip for his knobby fingers. Got to get a new stem, though. No sense carvin that when you could just pick up a plastic one at Woolworths even better.

Obie’s eyes drifted up again to the rough-hewn shelf above his fire, blackened by years of smoke and soot, and saw–or perhaps imagined that he saw–the faintest remnants of gold lettering on the once-red label of the Pinkussohn’s can. Finest tobacco he’d ever smoked, that. No sense in openin it any more; the smell was long since gone, and anyway it didn’t seem right to disturb the ashes. Still felt good to look at, though. And so he did, as he sat and rocked and carved in silence.

Yes, it was good to stay busy on Christmas Eve. Kept one from feelin alone.

Sean Campbell feels at home in Michigan. Although he was born in the South, he’s preferred the North of every country in which he’s lived. Sean’s haunts are places of learning, which have been good enough to allow him to support himself, his family, and his literary habits for the past 25 years. He currently works for the University of Michigan, but hopes to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Alonso Quixano, by one day losing his mind to fiction.

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