There were actually three sources of my ideas for Margaret's Christmas Cookies.
First, in 1979, I submitted essays to our local newspaper for Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day. They were both published in the "Lifestyle" section of the paper, and I felt like a real writer.
Later that year, the same newspaper sponsored a contest. We were invited to submit an idea for an original Christmas character, something like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Scrooge, only with a word count limit.
I was sure I could win when I invented a little old lady who brought nice (though a bit soggy) presents to children in a needy family one rainy Christmas Eve.
I didn't win, but the little old lady later became Mrs. King in Margaret's Christmas Cookies.
The second source was a real Margaret who was a fourth grader in my classroom in the late 1990's, and I'll never forget her.
Fourth grade is a unique age anyway. Ten-year-olds are remarkably self-sufficient (they can all tie their shoes), but they still manage to stay centered and grounded. Girls can be friends with boys and vice-versa, and they usually like school, teachers, and parents. Their minds are capable of both soaking up knowledge and producing ideas. In short, they are very nice.
Margaret was one of those exceptional individuals who arrived in fourth grade as a nice little grown-up already. She was the one who organized the clean-up after art projects. She helped the slow cleaners finish organizing their desks. She begged to help correct papers at recess time. When I scooted her out to the playground, she organized a school beautification committee to pick up trash or befriended new students and educated them about school rules or the school song.
Margaret moved away at the end of fourth grade, and I never actually got to observe what became of her the next year, but I'm sure she was doing more than her share to ensure that everyone else would love getting through it.
I kept thinking of that Margaret as I created my character of the responsible older sister in Margaret's Christmas Cookies.
The last idea source was my own mother. The recipe for sugar cookies in the story came from the recipe card in the box in my cupboard. Mother always added a bit of pancake syrup to her sugar cookies for just the right touch to make roll-out cookies soft and chewy.
Next time I will tell you where the ideas for my Ebook entitled Pomegranate came from.
And please keep reading.