We’re fast approaching 2017 and Christmas is just a few days away. A lot of us are still filled with anxiety and uncertainty as we observe so much trouble in the world and watch top governments change hands. One of the hardest things to do is to maintain a positive outlook in the midst of negativity. I’ve always used my childhood memories and dreams to get me through some of my most bleakest periods.
In the midst of this cold, wintry day, I sit at my kitchen table and begin to reminisce how certain books and stories warmed me up and gave me enough hope to believe that things will get better. As a kid, one of my brightest days came on a journey through Snell, a section of rural Spotsylvania County in Virginia.
Growing up with limited resources, we made good use of the discarded items people had thrown away at the dump in Snell. During the summer break from school, my brothers and cousins would sometimes make a day trip going to the County landfill. Sometimes we would walk and at other times we would ride our bikes. If we were lucky, we would stop by the Finney and Daughters Store in Snell and would pool our money together and buy a bag of Wise potato chips and a bottle of NeHi soda for the whole group to share. Man, those were the days!
I’ll never forget this one particular day at the dump when I found not only a fancy banana seat for my bike but also something else that have had a profound impact on my life as a writer. After finding the banana seat, I continued scrimmaging through the pile of recently-dumped items at the edge of the landfill. My eyes widen in awe at the familiar blue train! Yep, the blue train on the cover of the popular book ‘The Little Engine That Could’. When I’d excitedly pulled the book from the pile, I noticed that the cover was a bit faded and torn around the edges and that most of the pages inside were heavily marked up with crayon or ripped out. Although the book wasn’t in mint condition, I was smiling cheek to cheek, thinking that it was my best day ever! Ever since I first heard the story ‘The Little Engine That Could’ during story time at Robert E. Lee Elementary School, it touched a certain nerve in me and ignited the spark and gave me the courage to become the writer I am today.
As I’m getting older now, I’ve noticed that my childhood memories and dreams have become much more vital to me. It’s these Spotsylvania dreams that keep driving me and giving me hope. Have a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year, Everyone! – Randolph Randy Camp