Abstractions in December: your prompts and your links

When I call something concrete, I’m calling it something tangible, something that catches light, with texture, temperature, weight. A small, lovely group of writers has been joining me in using the concrete to speak of the abstract. How else can we show you the invisible things?

As I consider a writer’s voice, I wonder how it is for you. If we all have one, I wonder about other things, other things that most of us have – like the ornament on your tree, for example. If voice is cadence and music and space, how you write out the matter in your life and the meaning it gives, then tell me about the ornament. It’s certainly different than mine. So how is it for you?


It began with the ornament, our first Christmas together in the little house. Grandma and Grandpa lived in the Rock House in front of us, and they let us walk out on the property to cut a tree. Seth wore a beanie and an old coat we’d found in the attic. He brought it up on his back, and we shoved the bald spots into the corner.

Like a proud new owner of my own space, I had set out every trinket I’d ever been given – snow men from the dollar store and a needlepoint that said, “Christmas is Love.” We only had a few ornaments, and they lined the front side of that little pine. In the year 2000, we had survived Y2K and leadership in youth ministry, and there we were finally grown-ups with wine and our own tree in our own living room. When I unwrapped it, I held it in both hands, big, rosy, glass santa head. I redistributed the ornaments and let him reflect christmas lights front and center.

Almost twelve years later on a Sunday afternoon, our living room will have moved to that rock house where Grandma and Grandpa used to watch Wheel of Fortune. I will put my tree where their fancy table used to be, and I’ll stick Santa’s shiny face right back where it belongs. I’ll see him from the corner of my eye, remember year 2000. Another baby will run around in a diaper and stop to rub the crushed silver velvet of the tree skirt and let his eyes roll back. Seth will make a play list of Christmas songs, and I’ll know he stifles tears of happiness – pure gladness in the season.

How much light has reflected there in the twinkle of those blue eyes? The kisses on the couch, then a new stocking added every other year. Oh the stories and cookies and drinks with best friends. Every year is wrapped in a page written outside of time. While we put up the trees and legs grow dangly and faces full, while they learn the world and change and God in it, I’ll carry only a few tangible things with me, and this ornament from Seth is one.

This month, we would love for you to join us. Follow the weekly prompts or pursue concrete ways to express your own themes. Then link your words here on this page any time and as many times during the month of December. Just make sure to send your readers here to the other links. Let’s encourage one another. Give me something in your story I can hold. Help me walk around with it, reaching for it even weeks from now.

I’ll keep a big button in my sidebar like a link list, and I would love for you to be on it with a few other generous writers. Make sure to use #concretewords on twitter. Thank you always for coming here and walking with me.

Upcoming Prompts are The Cinnamon (December 10), The Gold (December 17), and The Gift (December 24).
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There’s a freedom I hear about that I just don’t always recognize in my life. I long to be free so much that maybe I’ve built a habit of feigning it. Would you like to join me in exploring this path to true freedom? Follow along on Facebook or subscribe to these posts by email or in a reader.  Are you ready to shirk your chains? 

About me


A Haines Home Companion: Christmastime
December 14, 2012
A Hijacked Hat Party
December 11, 2012
A New Vision: Christmas Change 2010
November 07, 2010


Amber C Haines
Reply December 3, 2012

Titus update coming tomorrow! :)

Shelly Miller
Reply December 3, 2012

Every year I hang ornaments, files of memories flood my mind. It's like opening an old photo album with every hook dangling shiny joy. I've wanted to participate but can't seem to fit it in with the series I've been doing at my blog. However, I always enjoy coming here and reading your thought. They're like holding a steamy cup of tea while curled up on the couch in a warm blanket - cozy and warm. Praying for Titus btw.

LoveFeast Table
Reply December 3, 2012

We share a kiss every year when we hang the first ornament we hung on the tree some 18 years ago. Our kids say, "yuck" and pretend to turn their heads and look in the other direction but we always catch a sparkle in their eyes as their mouths try to suppress a smile.

Reply December 3, 2012

I can feel the gladness and see it in Santa's plump cheeks. Thanks for this.

Tanya Marlow
Reply December 3, 2012

I can feel the love in this. I love your writing, lady.

I don't know if I'll have time to join in on this in December - but please keep doing it and I'll be back ready to play in January... I'll check back in tomorrow about Titus too...

    Tanya Marlow
    Reply December 3, 2012

    Well... Look at that. You drew me in. I guess I am playing, after all. :-)

Reply December 3, 2012

Hi Amber
I love your description of being the proud owner of your space. That does not come without shedding and breaking many chains...to be comfortable within yourself! I think every relationship of love is a page written outside of time for our world seems to have forgotten how to fit that into its time zone.
Much love and many thanks to you for being our hostess.

Elizabeth W. Marshall
Reply December 3, 2012

Ornaments and trees and Christmas are so much more than they reveal on the outside.....we must look deeper and deeper still to see memory and whimsy and love busting the roof off of a house and a life. To see all the layers of living underneath and then further down still. Love your heart and words here and obviously I love this place for I keep returning and returning. Praying for Titus and long for an update.

Reply December 3, 2012

Amber, so looking forward to a Titus update. I love reading your words. The rock house with your grandparents and their Wheel of Fortune. Your pride in that first home (I did the exact same thing -- put out every conceivable item to make it ours :) ). Surviving Y2K. The tender first Christmas in that Santa, those eyes looking upon each new phase of your family's life. I relish this place. Thank you for your words and these concretewords specifically....love and life breathed into the ordinary.

Reply December 5, 2012

Every year is wrapped in a page written outside of time.
^^brilliant writing.
love this concept. i am very abstract so i can see how this practice can become beautifully grounding.

Robin ~ Pensieve
Reply December 11, 2012

I dunno...I'm shy about my submission (wrote it yesterday...and much later I found the ornaments I *would* have written about had I been able to put my hands on 'em.). Anyways, I've loved these prompts because you challenge me as a writer, a thinker, a believer...and I like that about you.

Among other things (like skipping the blog and wii-ing instead :)).

Reply December 11, 2012

Oh fun! I want to play. I'm going to give you something to hold: a Fisher Price Jesus at the front of the church. I'll post tonight. :)

I loved your ornament story, Amber, and hearing about what those eyes have seen. Once, we front-loaded our little tree and the whole thing tipped right over. But I've always felt so guilty putting the ornaments at the back, like I might hurt their little feelings.

Reply December 12, 2012

Thanks again Amber. I'm enjoying December Abstractions. And I love that your friends hijacked the party. Sounds like real grace.

Reply December 25, 2012

Amber, December Abstractions has been enjoyable for me. Hope you are having a good Christmas.

Reply July 24, 2015

You're the grseatet! JMHO

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