Welcome Kathryn Ross to Thyme for Writers. Peppermint Bits — Words Spun, Broken and Sweet is Kathryn’s third in the The Write Spice: Writing Tips for Flavorful Words series! What better way to bring in the Christmas season than with Kathryn’s words of wisdom…
Like a good book, the sense of smell possesses the power to whisk a person into another time and place.
Memory connects a life experience stored in the brain to our senses, ready to unleash it upon our being should we come in contact with that particular sense trigger again. We flood with remembrance as nostalgia works a spa-like treatment upon our hearts—if the memories are sweet.
Christmas may come but once a year, yet when I smell pine and peppermint in July, I have a momentary urge to string lights and plug A Charlie Brown Christmas into the DVD player while consuming sweetness in a cup of hot chocolate stirred with the red and white swirl of a fragrant peppermint candy cane.
But, what if the scents that stir us connect to less than sweet memories? Brokenness. Heart sick moments in our lives we’d rather not return to even in the fleeting imagery of the mind. Sometimes, we don’t want our memories stirred. We don’t want to return to painful moments.
As writers, our words act like the power of scent whisking us to another time and place—both broken and sweet. We stir within our readers either a curse or a blessing. How we balance the ingredients of the words we write and the messages we convey by knowing and targeting a specific audience, determines the value our work is to those we hope to influence.
Powerful vehicles, our senses. Much like trigger words in a story. Swirled together like the red and white of a candy cane, they become effective communication tools for the writer and speaker, spun wisely.
The Blessing Comes through the Broken
In the late 1800s, America was growing with European immigrants from many diverse Western cultures. Christmas was a holiday marked by all, though celebrations differed. One thing many did hold in common from the Old World was to see the pig as a symbol of good health and prosperity—something all families hoped for as the new year approached. A candy maker in Saratoga Springs, New York created a unique trinket, to bolster his sales, built on this commonality. He mixed sugar and peppermint into a bright pink concoction and poured it into small molds of a pig. Then, cleverly, he packaged it with a cloth bag, a little metal hammer, and directions for instituting a new family Christmas tradition. After the meal on Christmas day, the pig was placed into the cloth bag and hammered to broken bits. Emptying the bag onto the table, chucks of fragrant peppermint candy poured out—enough for everyone to eat and enjoy,making memories bathed in the scent of peppermint and a wish for good health and prosperity in the new year. Only in brokenness came the blessing.
The Sweetness Comes through Consumption
The scent of peppermint has long been connected to Christmas celebrations. As far back as the 1670s in Germany, folkore tells us about the choirmaster petitioning a candy maker to come up with a sugar stick to keep noisy children silent in the solemn part of their worship service. The clever candy maker designed the peppermint flavored candy cane we still use today in the shape of a shepherd’s crook. He swirled the sugar mixture with red and white colors in remembrance of the blood of Jesus shed to make us all whiter than snow. Story spun with tangible stimulants for the senses spoke directly to the youthful audience it was meant to still, as they consumed the sweet. Sticky and forever connected to Christmas, we consume tons of peppermint candy cane confections each year. Only in consumption comes the sweet.
As a writer, I compose my most effective words from a place of brokenness because of the bitter, and the consumption of a sweet remedy discovered. Memories I prefer to tuck away must be stirred to the surface to remember well the sour moments in time, so I might write the way to find the sweet blessing there. For me. For my readers.
Scent, like words, heal. Medicinally, peppermint oil is used to invigorate the mind and senses. It tingles the skin with coolness, aids digestion, comforts stomach upset, and washes over one with an inspiring a sense of peace.
Do the words you write and speak do the same? Are they flavored to draw to the surface bitter things and so heal with the sweet? How can you add a dose of peppermint to your work and minister peace to your readers?
Writer-speaker, Kathryn Ross, ignites a love of literature and learning through Pageant Wagon Productions and Publishing. She writes and publishes homeschool enrichment and Christian living books for home, church, and school. Her passion is to equip women and families in developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle, producing readers and thinkers who can engage the world from a biblical worldview. She blogs and podcasts at TheWritersReverie.com and PageantWagonPublishing.com. Connect with Miss Kathy on Facebook.
Writer, speaker, teacher, and enrichment artist, Kathryn Ross, sweeps readers into the story-worlds of Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, Hannah Hurnard, Marguerite de Angeli, John Bunyan, and others, exploring powerful truths to fulfilling God’s plan for your life in her latest publication, The Gatekeeper’s Key. Discern your place and season, with encouragement to see purpose in boundaries, find comfort in trials, and gain fortitude in going forth. Short story, personal testimony, excerpts from classic literature, visual imagery, challenge questions for discussion, and journal prompts for writing assignments draw you before the Gatekeeper. It’s quite a journey—but you’re never alone. Always in His Presence, with an Invitation, a Gatekeeper, and a Key. Perhaps more than one. Purchase on Amazon or direct from Pageant Wagon Publishing.