Peer Review by ALangford (United Kingdom)

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Memories Forgotten

By: Camryn

The last month of the year? Oh, you mean Christmas! With cookies, and trees, and presents, and church, and...wait for it...Santa Claus!
I never believed in Santa. My sisters were both over five years older than me, so they were sure to tell me that he didn't exist. Those know-it-alls.
I'm actually really glad I never believed in him. I'm extremely gullible to begin with, without believing in one of the biggest lies out there. While I knew Santa wasn't real, I did have some difficulty keeping him and his reindeer straight. I might have been around the age of four or five when my sister tried to con me into thinking I would turn into a reindeer.
"You're naughty. You're going to get coal in your stocking," she sneered.
With all the pride of my four year-old self, I exclaimed, "Santa's not real."
"Nope," she reinvented. "But because you were bad, you're going to turn into a reindeer on Christmas Eve and you'll have to pull the sleigh all over the world. I was good this year, so I get to ride in the sleigh, laughing all the way. Laughing at you." Maybe she didn't say it exactly like that, but that's how I interpreted it.
I had to protest. "NO! You're bad. I get to ride."
We continued in this strain for quite some time. I don't really remember anything else of the argument, probably because my brain can hardly keep track of what I ate for lunch yesterday, much less a fight that occurred over a decade ago. I don't even know why that particular memory sticks in my head. Maybe I was emotionally scarred by it. Or maybe it was because I sat in bed that night wondering if I would turn into a reindeer and then felt stupid upon waking as a human on Christmas morning. Stupidity tends to be memorable.
Wait, you didn't mean Christmas, but the whole "last month of the calendar year?" Well, then you must be talking about that one month with all the snow.
The month where my dad went on a canoe trip in the Everglades, leaving his house of five women to shovel the 160 yard driveway. And we got a fabulous twelve inches on the first day he was gone and ten more inches the day after that.
It wouldn't have been too bad, except our 10 year old snow blower had been out of commission for the past three years and Dad had been using a piece of plywood since that fateful day he ran over a puddle boot in the middle of the driveway. First time I'd ever heard him swear. I'm pleased to say that boot was entirely my twin's fault.
Not that having a snow blower mattered anyway, because the snow was too heavy to use one. Yes, that's right. I said the snow was too heavy for a snow blower. My poor, poor aching arms.
My neighbor was nearing her seventies at the time, and her husband had slipped on the ice under the snow (from the frozen rain the night before), so she was left trying to shovel her driveway all alone. Our driveways meet up at the end, so we attempted to clear off the mutual part together.
Thank goodness, we're done with the first part of the driveway! CSHHHHHHH. I hate snowplows.
All the snow on the road was deposited thoughtlessly onto our driveways. Let me make this clear to you, just so you get the picture: WE LIVE ON A CURVE! This sad existence meant the snowplow pushed a hill reaching up to my waist of slush and ice smack dab onto the part we had just finished shoveling.
The neighbor on my other side, ex-wife of a mortician, had been smart enough to pay some chump to dig out her driveway. He brought a truck. We watched enviously as he finished the driveway in five miniscule minutes. My graying neighbor tsked in envy. The truck exited its finished product and was just about to pass our curb on his way home when my neighbor grasped my sister's shoulder and said with a cackle, "Watch this!" As the truck slowed down to take the turn, the old bat walked towards the other side of the driveway with a pronounced limp.
That woman is one of the healthiest old lady I know. She most definitely does not walk with a limp!
The truck stopped and the driver got out. "You guys need help?" He asked.
"Why thank you! SO kind of you to offer." She leaned over and whispered, "Works every time." 
‚ÄčOh, but you're right, that was at the beginning of the year, in January. I suppose I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "the last month of the year" if you don't mean Christmas or snow. Perhaps I'll recall it later. The last month of the year means nothing without Christmas, without snow, without cold, without the color blue (I don't know why, but the last month always seems very blue to me). It's entirely worthy of forgetting, don't you agree? Because when the last month ends, the last first month of the new year begins. And that month, as well, will end. Earth continues revolving and every month will end with a beginning.
There are eleven months to a year after all.
Hold on. There are twelve months, including December. I must have forgotten.
Only a vague feeling of the month persists: a feeling of excitement, to celebrate Christmas with the smell of pine, and to welcome in a new year. December is the month to set aside one's disappointments of the previous year and look forward to the unwritten future. Isn't that what forgetting is, after all? 

Message to Readers

Can you tell me what parts you skimmed and became bored, so I can cut those parts?

Peer Review

I admired the tone! This is a really conversational piece - I can almost imagine it being read out loud and acted as it just jumps up from the page. The language is colloquial and much humour is created - it had me in creases as I read it.

This didn't come across much until the last paragraph explicitly, but the writer implied throughout that they associate it with laughter, games, fun and all that history of humour that she has with her family. It was much stronger to involve the reader in your anecdotes and the family jokes than to just tell us that they existed - and this really brightened my day!

It was a good balance of scene and reflection. There wasn't much reflection as such during the anecdotes so you could perhaps have added a couple of sentences with a moral or reflection at the end of each anecdote, but there's a risk that this would detract from the tone. I liked how you made it funny at the start and lapsed into reflection only at the end, as it made a great conclusion.

The ending was conducted perfectly, in my opinion. It's really strong to end on a passage of reflection, or so I thought - especially given that the rest of it has been a long strand of humour. That gave the ending a really conclusive feeling and ensured that we were left with something to think about after we'd finished reading. The one thing I would say is that the notions that you focus on in your conclusion aren't really what you've been emphasising the rest of the time - could you find a way to show the bit about getting over disappointments in the rest of your piece, maybe linking it to one of the anecdotes, rather than putting it in at the end without context?

This was a really, really strong piece! I couldn't stop laughing as I read it and structurally it's really sound - I love your idea of relating the month of December through anecdotes. This made it so much more fun to read. Your writing style is also excellent and sticks in one's mind as it's very unique.

Reviewer Comments

Well done - I hope to see more of your work on the site in the future.