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Writing Prompt: A Holiday to Remember

4 July, 2014
Girls competing in a watermelon eating contest...

Watermelon eating contest, July 4th, White Springs, Fl.         Credit: State Library & Archives of Florida

Today in Australia it’s the 4th of July. I celebrated the occasion with friends at a restaurant in Hartley Vale, with a lovely lunch in front of an open fire—great on this cold winter’s day. I asked everyone to wear something red, white or blue, and for the table centrepiece I brought two miniature American flags picked up last year when I was the 4th of July parade at Flagstaff Arizona, a sister city to Australia’s Blue Mountains, where I live.

Because the word HOLIDAY has many deep associations for most of us, it provides a writing prompt rich in possibilities. Have a go.

First, pick a particular holiday that you have personally celebrated.

Secondly, consider it from different perspectives, using the following prompts. Start freewriting or jotting down ideas. Either stick with one prompt, try several, or go through the whole list.

  • How was the holiday celebrated when you were younger? Be specific: foods, activities, traditions and rituals, the people involved, entertainment.
    Was there anything unusual about how it was celebrated?
  • Does any particular year for the occasion stand out? Why is it memorable? What did, or did not, happen that year? What was the outcome for you? For others?
  • How did you once feel about this holiday?  Why? Do you feel the same way now? E.g., Although I have great childhood memories of Christmas, a friend hates the holiday due to his father’s alcoholism.
  • Did the holiday change for you when you matured? As you moved from childhood to adolescence? In your early adult years? As an older adult?
    How has it changed, or not? Have some traditions been abandoned or revised in some way? How do you feel about the difference?
  • Have you ever been in a very different situation (e.g., different location, different people involved) during this holiday? If so, was the holiday celebrated traditionally, differently, or not at all? Why? How did you feel about this?
  • Do you think it important to commemorate this holiday? Why or why not? Who would think it important? Who would not?
  • Was this holiday particularly sad, comical, disturbing, or exciting one year? What made it so?
  • From your perspective, what’s the worst aspect of this holiday? What’s the best aspect?

Thirdly, go through your written results and highlight any items that jump out at you as strong and interesting. Then, drawing on these major items, try writing 500-1000 words.Maybe it will turn out to be a fictional story, a reminiscence, or an essay of sorts.


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