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Chicken Soup for Soul includes local

December 19, 2012 - It was Christmas time when Clarkston resident Ronald Dimmer was inspired by the reaction of his first son's viewing of the bright holiday lights.

The inspiration was transformed into a poem and "Christmas Through Your Eyes" was recently published in a collection of holiday stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas.

"This particular poem happened accidentally," he said looking back. "Our oldest son, Andrew, at the time was 7 months old. It was evening and it had just gotten dark. We had a Christmas tree in the front of the house in the bay window. "

It was Dimmer's grandmother's artificial tree from the 1950s and was covered with white lights and ornaments.

Andrew was quiet as his dad held him as they both gazed out of the window.

"He was quiet, which for him was unusual," said Ronald.

But it wasn't just the quiet but the look on Andrew's face he noticed.

"He was looking at the tree and there were the reflections from the windows all around and the lights from the outside the window," Ronald smiled. "It was his wide eyes, I know it sounds cliché to say it, but it was the wonder while he was watching. It just hit me – everything is new to him."

It also hit him children are only young for a brief time. It was also Andrew's first Christmas and Ronald's first Christmas as a father. He felt he needed to do something to capture the moment.

He chose to write it as free verse poetry to get in a lot of information and a clear image without having to explain too much.

"I thought it would have more of an impact," he added.

He wrote a few drafts and included mental snapshots of how Andrew was when he was 7 months old.

Ronald skimmed the poem for descriptions and smiled as he stopped at "headlong glee."

"He would crawl along as fast as he could in the house and get into everything, constantly exploring," he said. "If he was crawling, he was panting because he was going so fast to keep up with himself."

Another few words, "grasped in both hands and tasted," described more of Andrew's curious nature as he grabbed items. If anything was covered he would lift it up to see what was underneath it.

Andrew, now 12 is still the same way. He just opened his web business - He take Lego bricks and creates new designs with them.

"It is mindblowing to think how much he has changed but how much he has stayed the same," Ronald said. "He is constantly getting everything he can. He is going nuts with it."

He added his youngest son, Nathan, who is 9, is the same way.

"Both sons like the poem and it applies to both sons," he said. "The same kind of opportunity is there for both. I look at what they are going through in life from their perspective. Everything that does happen to them is new for them."

When Ronald finished the final draft of "Christmas Through Your Eyes" he put it away and continued being there as the boys grew and being there for his students as a middle school teacher.

It was years later when his wife, Linda, came across the entry for Chicken Soup for the Soul while she was working on children books manuscripts the poem came back to life. She convinced him to submit the poem and he finally did it.

"It was pretty exciting to find out this would be commemorated and look at it years later," he said when he found out "Christmas Through Your Eyes" was selected.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas is a special edition for readers because the edition includes 121 stories instead of the normal 101 stories.

"These are good stories," said Ronald. "They are definitely heart felt. They make you think about the world and appreciate what you have especially nowadays life is so fast paced. You really do have to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you have - that was what I was doing and motivated me to do this. There will never be another first like this. I wanted to savor the moment."

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Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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