On a blustery December day in 1996, the horses and their riders thundered down the track and around the clubhouse turn. The sun burned bright and low in the sky. The end of Charles Town racetrack started bad. In the first race, a 54-year-old jockey was thrown from his mount, and another horse fell on top of him. They took him to the hospital.
Located in the West Virginia panhandle about an hour and a half from Baltimore and Washington, the racetrack was a throwback to simpler times—a place where the local owners and trainers raced horses just because. Most of the horses weren’t Grade I Triple Crown contenders. In fact, many of them were claimers. But they were thoroughbreds, and the jockeys dreamed of bigger races.
Even back in September, you could tell the end was near. The racetrack’s brown and orange colors hinted strongly of the last time anybody had focused on décor. The place needed more than repainting. The once-yellow chrysanthemums in the boxes lining the rail were brown and withered from neglect. Even the long-time track announcer, with his familiar “Eet is na-a-a-aow post time!” was gone, replaced by a plain vanilla voice.
Charles Town was gritty and close up. You could stand at the rail and feel the hooves pounding down the turf, whizzing past you in a blur, the tiny jockeys balanced miraculously over their horses’ heaving withers. You could mingle with real people too—not glitzy gamblers or yuppies out slumming, but hard-working folks with part of Friday’s pay crumpled in their fists, money much safer put in a bank than on a bet.
For anyone but the truly desperate—and you could see plenty of that in some folks’ eyes—Charles Town was good, cheap fun. Too cheap, it seems. On a Sunday in December, shortly before twenty-to-one longshot Count on Boo won the ninth race, the 54-year-old jockey died, and so did the racetrack.
One year later, refurbished and repainted, the track emerged from the ashes as a racino, its seedy authenticity masked by the glitz and bling of other, more popular forms of gambling. You can still watch horse races—on simulcast from other racetracks in the country and live on the track, which has become one of the busiest in the country with more than 200 races annually.
Today, there are more people inside the casino gambling than there are sitting in the grandstand or standing along the rail to watch the horses run. An older form of gambling that relied on some knowledge of horseflesh and the owners, trainers, and jockeys involved in the sport is yielding place to the new: rows and rows of former two-dollar bettors who knew the longshot would win, mindlessly shoving coins into one-armed bandits in hopes that a bucket full of quarters will transform their lives. Racinos seem to be horse racing’s last hope of survival, but the verdict is still out on whether newer is necessarily better.
Review: Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg ~ JD DeHart
With many reforms occurring in education over the past two decades and ongoing comparisons among national test scores, Pasi Sahlberg’s book, Finnish Lessons 2.0, explores the topic of what works in Finland with the guiding principle that other nations can learn something valuable from the Finnish model. Likely audiences for this book include policymakers, reformers, those critical of reform, educational leaders, and teachers; the content of this book might also be of interest to parents seeking to understand more about the possibility for positive changes in schools. As a teacher educator, I approached this text with a balance of optimism about its potential as a resource on effective change, as well as skepticism about how well the model presented could translate to other systems.
Sahlberg positions himself as uniquely capable of speaking on the background and policies in Finland; as described in the text, he taught in the Finnish system for a number of years, and also taught courses in Finnish educational reform at the college level. According to his biography, Sahlberg was the director of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. The author’s inside perspective, then, helps lend credibility to his description of the social factors involved in educational reform, but also the structure and ongoing changes with the Finnish nine-year basic school (peruskoulu).
The book is organized with a brief history of Finland, providing background information, and then a point-by-point discussion of policy themes, or reasons why education in Finland has become a focal point for nations striving to improve their own educational systems. This discussion includes Finland’s growth from a mediocre system through increased educational equity; a sense of “shared responsibility” (p. 6); emphasis on improving assessment, attrition rates, and dropout rates; an intermingling of educational goals across social spheres; and the hope that Finland provides for nations struggling with attempts to improve education. Finally, Sahlberg gives the reader his projections about the ongoing challenges and changes in Finnish education that might occur in the future.
Helpfully, Sahlberg gives the reader contextual factors, and does not make the case that the entire Finnish program can simply be transposed from one nation to another. Finland, according to Sahlberg, was not always so successful in its education system; in fact, post-World War II Finland saw a number of changes, including “transition from a northern agricultural nation to an industrialized society,” improvements in the welfare system, and “expanding higher education” (p. 19).
The country also suffered an economic recession in 1990s. Of particular note was the influence of growing technological industries, including Nokia. By tracing the nation’s history in this way, Sahlberg shows that a unique set of factors work in Finland, and they may not necessarily work the same way everywhere.
In general, Sahlberg describes the Finnish education model as embracing a sense of ongoing demand in quality, a strong connection the deeper moral considerations of teaching, and a need for relevance in curriculum, leading to an employable body of graduates. It is difficult to disagree with any of these goals, and the author spends much of the rest of the text painting them broadly. Sahlberg paints the Finnish experience as one of survival, and by the end of the book I found myself inexplicably on Finland’s side, as if I were aligning my reading with a fictional protagonist.
Critics of applying the Finnish model to other nations might contend, “Their nation is not our nation.” Sahlberg shows the reader that there were, however, many common threads of change over the time period between 1945 up to the present, including a focus on greater educational quality, which occurred contemporaneously in the United States and England. Just as with education in the United States, pendulum swings between ability grouping and abolishing the practice of tracking, as well as offering more courses occurred in Finland. Students in Finland have the opportunity to take a National Matriculation Examination, showing that Finland also includes local and national assessments in its model, and this exam gives students the chance to enroll in upper-secondary schools.
Social factors including paternal and maternal leave, as well as a right to daycare, feature in the Finnish model. Education works in tandem with other government agencies in such a way that the onus of a child’s development does not seem to be firmly placed on the shoulders a school system; rather, needs are seen as more comprehensive. It would seem that to be truly effective, in some sense, education reforms would then reach across government agencies to issue into a more sweeping style of social reform. Issues like the poverty line and minimum wage would then be likely considerations in the United States’ system. The loftiness of this goal may complicate its practicality; reshaping a school system is one task, but reshaping an entire cultural ethos is another matter.
Rather than having government agencies hold sway over education in a rule-creating approach of guidelines and initiatives, it seems that agencies across the nation sought to work with education by making improvements and adjustments in their own sectors. In this way, policymakers and agencies worked alongside the education system, rather than trying to sideline or overtake education for the purposes of business or profit. It would be interesting to see how this approach to education would play out in other countries.
In terms of equity, education is available tuition-free for adults in Finland “for all those who have successfully completed upper-secondary education” (p. 61). Funding for education comes from the public. Resources are focused early to meet the needs of students, broadening the sense of what it means to have a special education program, and those students who have greater needs receive a larger amount of educational support. Prevention is seen as more beneficial than prediction in special education. Curriculum in Finland is unified so that all learners have a common set of expectations. A modular curriculum sidesteps the notion of grade repetition in upper secondary education. Report cards for students include academics, as well as behavior-related information, opening lines of communication with families.
Teacher education in Finland is focused on problem solving in real world situations, particularly noted in math and science curriculum, and teacher education is research-based. Sahlberg uses words like “experiential” and “hands-on” described teacher education processes (p. 74). Furthermore, teachers are required to obtain master’s degrees, and Sahlberg describes their position in society as honored and esteemed. Teachers teach a shorter amount of time in Finland but also regularly participate in professional learning communities, are involved in creating their own curriculum, and provide remediation for struggling students. Teachers are involved on a voluntary basis with community issues, which seems to be a more authentic model than tying community expectations to a rubric and using a number to evaluate educators’ involvement.
In terms of take-aways, Finnish Lessons 2.0 paints a portrait of a country that seems to be a sterling example of education. By the end of the book, I was curious to hear more about the missteps that Finland’s system has taken, and maybe that is just the cynic in me approaching what sounds fairly utopian. Perhaps sensing that his audience may need this balance, Sahlberg addresses some of these continued needs in the final chapter.
The question of which policies to change comes into play when I consider the “next steps” after reading Finnish Lessons 2.0. Where does a country start if it wants to improve education? There are so many ideas and reforms listed in the text, both on smaller and larger scales, that this review would turn into a lengthy checklist just give brief attention to them. Perhaps the most applicable take-away is that, in the many, many ideas that seem to work in Finland, readers can start with the ones that match their own educational vision and culture most closely.
Otherwise, policymakers are attempting to initiate widespread social and political reform – and maybe that is what, in fact, some critics would say education needs at this point.
Everyone knows the cliché of the high school jock and the Homecoming Queen who enjoy their glory days at seventeen and then fade into the oblivion of mediocrity as adults. Meanwhile, the class nerd becomes wildly successful before age 30. And a great-grandmother takes up painting in her dotage and produces masterpieces.
Some people are late bloomers. Others are too busy with the business of everyday life to pursue a passion in their youth. But we’re living longer and healthier lives in the 21st Century. We have more productive years to discover new interests and develop new areas of expertise.
My best friend is an octogenarian who has published her first book this year. It’s selling quite well. Meanwhile, she has three more written and in varying stages of pre-production. When she received her BA in her early 50s she had no idea that four new, demanding, successful careers would follow. Writing is only her latest passion.
I was nearly 60 when I began learning to write poetry. I’m still developing my skill, and there’s a noticeable difference between my early scribblings and what I am producing now. (Thank Heaven!) I expect my work to keep evolving for as long as I can write. Hopefully, that will be for a long time.
Just a few short years ago it was considered a waste of time to attempt to publish after the age of 50. Legacy publishers wanted well-known names or young writers with many years ahead of them to produce product for the company. Then along came self-publishing. True, the industry has given rise to many poorly written books, but it has also produced some bestsellers … without regard to the age of the author.
So, if you feel like you’re behind the curve in fulfilling your ambitions, don’t despair. With preparation and perseverance, we all come into our own at the proper time. Hang in there!
I'm concerned about publishing my first book. No, not the content. I have honest friends and competent colleagues going over my manuscript with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. I'm confident, between all of us, we'll catch any glaring errors before it goes to press. My concern is the mechanics of the prospective publisher's program.
My concern is informed. I spent two hours yesterday trying to unlock a friend's pdf saved manuscript sent back from her publisher for final changes. Instructions? Change .pdf to .doc, make corrections, and return .doc to .pdf. Easy, right? "What software is compatible with your .pdf program?" she asked. The company refused to tell her, saying they can't recommend one program over another (how stupid is that?). She's not asking for the keys to the kingdom, just a hint as to which conversion program will do the best job opening her manuscript.
We tried two standard, all-purpose pdf decryption programs. The manuscript unlocked. It was nearly unreadable. Page numbers where everywhere, often not on the pages to which they were assigned. Lines of text overlaid other lines of text. Some pages were only half visible because of skewed margins. The work required to put the manuscript back into its original form isn't worth the time for the few corrections that have to be made. But my friend persists in wanting to publish perfection. I understand. I'd find mistakes in my book mortifying.
We're taking a mental health day before attacking this puzzle from another angle. If worse comes to worst, I'll copy the document chapter by chapter into a new .doc file and save it to Word. She can make her changes, and save it as a .pdf file when she's finished.
I think I'll take a little more time to make sure my manuscript is perfect. This is needless hassle for my friend--and infuriating for me. I thought we're all working toward the same goal.
A midlife crisis had me returning to school for my Masters in Education and then searching for a teaching job at 45 years of age. Not yet certified but in dire need of employment I landed an interview for a part time art position with an inner city Catholic middle school that we’ll call Saint Somewhere’s Academy. During the hiring process, however, I was presented with a unique opportunity. Classes were starting in less than a week and St. Somewhere’s was desperate to fill the last spot on its team of Americorps volunteers. This meant I could gain 2 years teaching experience if I signed on with the half dozen or so college grads already in place. This would be a crowning achievement to an otherwise meager resume, but surviving on the $12,000 a year stipend would be next to impossible. I regretfully declined.
But wait, said Saint Somewhere, there’s more!
To help offset my living expenses during the school year, I was offered free room and board. The Americorps volunteers, as it turned out, were able to live on the grounds of a nearby parish. Though residents were typically charged rent in the old renovated convent, this fee would be waived if I accepted the role of house manager. My responsibilities would be minimal, however, because let’s not forget, I would already be a full time teacher with the take-home workload to match. Everyone would pitch in to take care of the place. For the most part my job would be to delegate. It was my unusual age as a recruit that St. Somewhere’s found so appealing. They laughed that hopefully some of my maturity would rub off on the others. I’m still laughing.
I would never suggest that this handful of twentysomethings represented their entire generation. They did, however, come to justify some of the by now cliché assumptions of that reputedly self-important, self-entitled breed we've come to nickname millennials. These young adults are the product of raising kids without accountability. Theirs are the parents which held the teacher responsible for a bad grade, the boss in the wrong for a poor review, the cop as the culprit of a misdemeanor. At bedtime these kids were read positive affirmations instead of Roald Dahl. Their social cues sharpened by media browsing rather than field work, these millennials have developed the etiquette of computer cursors, coldly passing over all they survey and quickly minimizing or closing out whatever disinterests them. Navigating life like browsing on Amazon, there is always a better offer and usually one with fast & free delivery.
I moved in with these people on a Friday and by Sunday there were issues with the garbage. Because of the number of residents, the convent had four full-sized plastic barrels: one for regular trash and three others for recycling. All of us being adults, the simple verbal agreement was that if you were the last to fill a can to the top, you emptied it. The problem here was that the term “top” was apparently negotiable. Soon enough, four balanced towers of trash rose in the kitchen corner. Imagine my surprise when, after I finally resolved to take care of the cans myself, I returned to the kitchen to find an empty pizza box set perfectly in the center of all four. This became indicative of how our convent duties were handled until I posted a chore calendar holding everyone accountable. Even then there were residents who outright ignored their assignments until the bitter end. An excerpt from a very telling email goes as follows:
It has come to my attention that some of us are putting in more effort than others when it comes to the convent chores, causing an atmosphere of unfairness and disharmony. I’m confident this continues to be a matter of oversight rather than negligence.
A recurring issue has become the unsanitary condition of our kitchen and dining rooms, which we are all responsible for maintaining. This is the 3rd request for your cooperation with these areas and in lieu of notifying human resources etc, etc.
Responsibilities were quickly multiplying at school as well as at home. From day one, Saint Somewhere’s administration demanded a level of time and commitment from their Americorps team that far outweighed the humble compensation. This was the nature of the beast, it was service work, that’s Americorps. It wasn’t unusual for us to put in 12-hour days and 70-hour weeks. We hustled to stay on top of teaching class, coaching sports, and facilitating co-curriculars. Add to this the juggling of heavily personalized progress reports, report cards, and a seemingly endless lineup of fundraising events to keep it all going, we were all pushed to our limits.
Overworked and underpaid for the first time in the real world, my fledgling coworkers started harboring some resentments. Admittedly, it felt good to blow off some steam with them now and again, grumbling over administrative injustice, the general unfairness of life. I excused myself early from the grumbling, though, once it started to creep into the school day. To fester over some drinks and tacos in the convent TV room was one thing, to carry on in little fuming clusters during recess or breakfast duty was quite another. I waited for my coworkers to either leave it at home or leave it at work, but to no avail. Their belaboring turned relentless and all-inclusive.
Teachers start behaving like the age group they teach. This little nugget had been handed down to me a year prior during my graduate school internship and proved itself to be prophetic at Saint Somewhere’s. Subtly at first but then with somewhat alarming vigor, the Americorps kids began displaying behaviors that aligned uncanningly close to those of our students. And though Saint Somewhere’s took pride in its body of undoubtedly precocious and extraordinary children, these were ultimately middle schoolers - and all that that implies.
Unable to afford a vehicle and its insurance, I gratefully carpooled to work with one of my housemates, alternating between two or three possibilities each day. It was during these commutes that I realized the scope of worker animosity had widened beyond the administration. Now their spitefulness was directed at one another. From teaching styles to student relations, no one was more adept than whomever happened to be driving that day.
“Have you seen how Nathan teaches?” the driver might ask. “That guy doesn’t belong anywhere NEAR a classroom. His first period is like a zoo. He doesn’t know how to handle them!”
“Well, this is new to all of us,” I’d offer as a typical response. “And that 7th grade can be pretty tough.”
“Can’t manage them either, huh? Well they don’t give me any trouble whatsoever,” I’d be told less than humbly. “If you need me to come in and give you some pointers, just say the word.”
If two or more team members were present for the slam session, the venom sprayed toward whomever was not there. I knew the more I separated myself from the maliciousness and slander, the wider a target I became. I remember more than a few times joining a table or entering a room and the topic suddenly shifting, or a suspicious hush falling over everyone. Or was I just getting paranoid? I hadn’t felt this insecure since my own middle school years.
The taxing combination of full-time teaching, convent den mothering, and the prepubescent mind jousting that accompanied them both weighed on me far more heavily than I dared to admit. By that first February my mental state had become as fragile as the kitchen’s perpetual teetering pillar of aluminum recycling. One day a casual detour to our school counselor during one of my planning periods turned surprisingly desperate as I crumbled suddenly in the bean bag chair, shivering and sobbing uncontrollably, dumbfounded over my vain attempts to pull it together.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” I kept mumbling.
Next thing I knew, the principal and dean were at my sides, consoling me with profound understanding. Sharing war stories from the early days of their own careers, the women urged me to rest assured - this kind of thing was par for the course.
“I was a high school math teacher the year my mother passed away,” the dean told me, “Somehow coverage for my classes got botched and the lead teacher blamed me for not following procedures correctly. She put me on probation and in light of everything else, I had a complete nervous breakdown.”
Covering the rest of my classes herself, the dean secured me a ride home while the principal encouraged me to sleep it off. By first period the next day the whole episode had been forgotten, never again even alluded to throughout the rest of my mission at Saint Somewhere’s.
This opened my eyes to our administration’s humanity, restoring my faith in having chosen this field to work in for the rest of my life. After an especially grueling late Friday afternoon professional development workshop nuanced with the usual cattiness and ironic sarcasm of the millennials, I decided to abandon protocol and chance a text to our understandably deflated principal. In not so many words I sympathized with her position, encouraging her with an emoticon wink to sleep this one off while I took the weekend shift. This was responded to in due time with an authentic thanks and a knowing wink of her own. Kids these days.
Twice a year, Americorps staff members received performance reviews. These one-on-one conferences, led by Saint Somewhere’s principal, were to be considered learning opportunities. In the spirit of creative criticism - and not affiliated with our official transcripts - the review was a chance for us to see where we were placing on the barometers of professionalism - where we might be excelling as teachers as well as where we were falling short. Needless to say the amount of contempt aroused in the millennials during this half week of meetings was substantial. Perceived as accusatory - not to mention completely unreasonable - these evaluations were regarded as nothing less than acts of war.
“How does SHE know how effectively I use my time?” was one teacher’s gripe. “She’s never even in my classroom! And how are we expected to learn from these people if they’re never around!”
It was during one of these evaluations I received one of the comments I remain most proud of to this day.
“(Brian) has a keen ability to rise above any noise or drama produced by his colleagues and maintain a positive attitude.”
When the principal first read this aloud to me I was sure I hadn’t heard correctly. I asked her to repeat it. Not only did she read the comment to me again, she elaborated, commending me on my steady efforts to steer clear of the millennials and their trite, often damaging negative energies in the professional arena. I didn’t realize how much I longed for such validation - the impact was profound. It was as if acknowledging this spirit-crushing generation gap I’d been navigating for the past 2 years drew it into the light. I was now able to understand it, learn from it. Presented with an incredibly challenging and mostly thankless job - and plenty of opportunities to bitch and moan about it - I’d triumphed by simply holding onto the work ethic I was raised with. I was an example of maturity after all because, and this is the best part, I was old school. I left the meeting that day feeling I’d become not only a slightly better teacher than I was before, but a slightly better man as well.
As our 2 year mission drew to a close, the time had come for us to start preparing for life after Saint Somewhere’s. Our final months were a whirlwind of resumes and job interviews, sealed transcripts and letters of recommendation. From the beginning, Saint Somewhere’s had made it clear that volunteering teachers should not expect to stay on as regular staff, it rarely (if ever) happened. Americorps was always ripe with fresh candidates perfectly willing to do what we had just done for the past 24 months - basically everything for next to nothing. With that in mind I had begun a year earlier with preparations for a major move to the west coast. However, a number of my colleagues weren’t totally convinced they were leaving Saint Somewhere’s. After all they had done for the middle school, and after having done it all so WELL, how could they NOT be offered permanent positions? In the end, the school kept its word and hired no one from the Americorps team. True to form, my coworkers spent the remaining weeks brooding and vengeful, in a grand finale of palpable bitterness.
On the last day of work I noticed that by the time we got to school, I was back in good spirits, realizing only a few more nights in the convent remained before I’d be handing in my keys. The place had grown out of control, chores left half done or abandoned completely, towers of balanced trash all but bursting through the roof. As we pulled into the parking lot I noticed my coworker was nowhere near as peaceful. In fact he was working himself into the same froth he’d been in the day before, and the day before that. “I mean, I can’t even believe these people are my PARENTS,” he scowled, still grappling with the fact that he was going to be charged rent after moving back into the house he’d grown up in. “It wouldn’t be that big of a deal - but I haven’t heard back from even ONE of the schools I’ve sent my resume to. It’s completely absurd! I’ve put in too much time to be in this position right now. I’ve worked too hard!”
All I could do was agree with him. He was right. The whole situation was, in fact, completely absurd.
THE QUENCHING OF ELOQUENCE
My salad days have wilted and along with them, my mind.
It used to be I’d think of words if given enough time;
But now, when I’m relating some occurrence of import
I suddenly look blank and come up short.
My audience is mesmerized until there’s “memory fade.”
And just like that a word is gone I’ve known since second grade.
It’s mortifying, cruel and sad to turn into a dud;
My tongue, once silver-tipped, now Elmer Fudd.
Association is the key, a word that would define
The word I can’t recall that has departed from my mind.
But now I can’t remember it, can’t think of either word.
How absolutely stupid and absurd!
I have an idea for the young, whose minds are sharp as tacks--
Apply for jobs as “word suppliers,” “fillers-in of cracks.”
Us elderlies would snap them up without a second thought
And finish sentences the way we ought.
A Review of How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing by Paul J. Silvia, Ph.D. ~ J.D. DeHart
I know what it is like to try to balance the world of writing for work and writing for pleasure. One of the mistakes I have made in the past is thinking that creativity rests in only one of those spheres.
How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silvia really focuses on work writing, the academic writing process that some of us finding ourselves engaged with. What works best for all writers in this book is the practical advice Silvia gives for writing while balancing other work demands. We all share that cross, regardless of our day job.
Silvia acknowledges that sometimes writing is hard. He emphasizes regular commitment, even to the point of creating a spreadsheet to chart your work. While I am not ready to go into a full on analytic document, I have benefited from the use of Excel pages in the past to organize my writing and help me realize my best times for putting words on the page.
I recommend this book for academics, certainly, and anyone who wishes to engage in journal publishing – there are wise words here about submissions. I would also recommend this book for anyone who wants to begin a regular, committed lifestyle of writing.
Today I have to make a decision. I searched all of my hiding places and didn’t find any. I was sure I had one in one of them. I was feeling desperate and very sad. I needed just a taste to get me by.
There were no soft ones, some were almost there, another day or two and they’d be ready. But I couldn’t wait, I couldn’t stand the pain any longer and I made the call.
The lady who answered was very nice and understanding. She’d been through the same predicament herself. She gave me several options and we talked for hours.
Towards the end of our session, she told me to check my areas again. I went to the bag that was in the darkness of the closet first. I was overjoyed to find one ready, it felt like a miracle had happened. I thanked her and told her I’d love to hug her. She said she was always available for a hug.
I decided right then to become a member. The dues were affordable and there was always someone available either by phone or in person at their various locations. It was also good to know there were people out there just like me. I felt great relief knowing I had someone to help me at any time day or night.
I’m now part of an organization called Avocadoes Anonymous.
Call me nuts, but I wanted to bake a fruitcake.
Fruitcake gets a bad rap. I liked it when I ate it as a child, which wasn’t very often. My parents never served one. I figured if I could make a truly fantastic one, they’d have to agree it was good.
I found an amazing recipe online. Sadly, one of the ingredients was rum. I think I mixed up converting imperial to metric. It did seem odd to me that a two-pound fruitcake would have over ten shots of rum in it. Oh well.
I mailed the fruitcake to my parents as a gift. Unfortunately, their lifelong hatred kept them from even trying it. So they passed it on to my great niece, age three, and my great nephew, age two. It being the holidays, no one minded the kids scarfing down the entire thing. Until they started going bonkers. Then, after bouncing off the wall for over an hour, the vomiting commenced. I’m told it was ugly.
So, from that day forward, I’ve been the “crazy uncle” who got the kids hammered on Christmas. And maybe I really was crazy to think I could redeem the reputation of poor fruitcake.
The moral of this story is … fruitcakes come in many forms.
Caroline Taylor's stories have appeared in several online and print magazines and can be found at http://www.carolinestories.com