It’s Sunday, December 3rd at 6:46am. I’m curled up in front of my little electric heater that looks like a fireplace. I’m surrounded by notebooks, pens, and The Artist’s Way book. I’ve written my morning pages and had coffee with my eldest son and now I’m prepping for my writing groups. But first, I must express my gratitude.

In our family, December 1st is the official beginning of my Christmas season and with it comes many traditions. Some of them are ones I’ve created with my kids, some of them have carried on from my own childhood and some are blend of old meets new.

One of my favourite childhood traditions that has continued with my own kids is our December thankful chain.

On strips of red and green paper, my kids each take a colour and write something for which they are thankful on each one.

I connect them into one long chain, and each day, they open and read that day’s link. The secret is that they read what the other one has written. And just like when my own brother and I did it, it’s an unwritten rule that you must write your own name, so that your sibling is forced to say that they are thankful for you.

This past Friday night, I participated in my last holiday market of the season. It was hosted by a fabulous downtown vintage shop and the dedicated First Friday of Peterborough committee.

I never know what to expect at markets. My products are not always the ones people gravitate toward when shopping. I’m often surrounded by beautiful candles and soaps and delightfully hand-knit wonders. They are perfect as they are and need no explanation.

My books, my writing activities, and even my stickers all come with a story from me. If passerby (and yes, this is the plural form because I looked it up!) are intrigued, I love to share with them the meaning behind each and every item on my table. Not every shopper is looking for a story. I get that. That’s why, when someone does stop and ask me to tell them more, I get a swirl of energy.

The conversations I have with people across from my 6×8 table are ones that I replay as I pack up my bins and load my car and make my way back home. I smile at the memory of the 8-year-old who read the words, “I am a writer” and just had to have it for their own notebook.

As I put the unsold copies of Pixie and the Bees back on my shelf, I remember the parents who tell me they read the book to their kids most nights, and the couple who told me they bought the book from my local plant shop to read to anxious campers at their summer camp.

I remember the woman who laughed so hard at my Wannabe Villains notebook that after she bought one copy, she came back and bought a second one.

On Friday, the forecast was for rain and the market was outdoors. I debated bailing.

But instead, I put each product in a sealed Ziplock bag and made sure my bin of supplies was securely fastened and waterproof. I put on layers of clothing until I resembled a snowman and loaded my car.

When I arrived at the downtown courtyard, it was lightly snowing. There were tents lined with strings of lights and people were bustling all around, setting up and helping their neighbours.

As I decorated my table in plastic tablecloths and Ziplock bags, I was offered twinkly lights and encouragement. My mood soared.

By 5pm, the courtyard was a sea of twinkle lights, laughter, live music, and people. This did not stop until past 9pm. Even when the snow changed to a damp mist. Even when the temperatures dropped, and our toes tingled. People kept arriving. People kept laughing. People kept sharing. It’s cliché but true to say that it was the kindness of people kept me warm.

Today, as I reflect on the markets and the season and my upcoming groups, the word that comes to mind is community.

When I am in a space with people and we are talking about creativity, actively creating, or discussing our admiration for other creatives, I am filled with this sense that anything is possible.

I have recently looked around the table and thought to myself that if we can continue to create together, for each other, and with joyful dedication, we can overcome so many of life’s obstacles.

When we are together creating, we talk about possibility, not limitation. We encourage and support. We share deeply and sincerely. We accept each other and ourselves.

I am so immensely grateful for my community. My community here in Peterborough, my online community of Open Sky Stories, my community of friends and family.

Thank-you for being here. Thank-you for being part of my community.

I cannot wait to create with you.


Upcoming groups and workshops that focus on creativity and community:

Safety in Numbers Writing Group

The Artist’s Way Support Group

How Do You Want to Feel in 2024

Creative Writing with Prompts

Stay tuned for more community events coming.

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Erica Richmond

 Erica Richmond, the founder of Open Sky Stories believes that words have the power to provide connection & healing. She offers a variety of writing workshops and 1:1 mentoring. Erica has published two books: Pixie and the Bees and The Mail Art Stories Project: Mail Art in the Time of Covid-19

She lives in Peterborough, Canada with her two teens where they find adventures in everyday life.

Follow Erica on Instagram for daily writing inspiration and real-life stories.