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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)

By James Dick


Did you ever wonder what Heaven would be like when you were a child? Well, I know I did. I imagined it being like the wonderful annual picnic that my family used to attend. It was fantastic. There was good food, good company, and a beautiful “down home” setting with everyone in a joyous mood.

As a boy in the 1950s, I always looked forward to the annual Daniels Day picnic in the fishing village of Wanchese, on Roanoke Island, in North Carolina. Although my mother wasn’t a Daniels before marriage, she was related to the family as were most people who were raised on the island.

The Daniels Day picnic was for everyone with lineage in the family, no matter how distant. All were invited to the event, held each August on the grounds of the local Methodist church. I guess you could call it a super extended family event; even people close to the family but not related usually attended.

My family was always on the Outer Banks in August for vacation at our beach cottage, so we didn’t have to make a special trip to attend. But many did travel long distances; I can remember people from as far away as Texas and points west at the event.

The picnic was held on August nineteenth. That date is Virginia Dare Day, the celebration of the birth on Roanoke Island of the first child born to English parents in America. Born on August 19, 1587 to Elinor and Ananias Dare, the infant Virginia was part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony which disappeared without a trace sometime between 1588 and 1590.

I remember walking to the picnic from my aunt’s home across the street. The cars were parked on the church grounds and up and down the road as far as I could see. It was the one day each year when traffic made the town appear much larger.

Hundreds of people were there. Grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were in attendance. It was a chance to renew old relationships and establish new ones.

Many of the people knew each other well, but some were complete strangers. It just showed how the family had scattered over the generations and how this special occasion was so important to fostering the family heritage.

One thing was certain; nobody was going home hungry. There was a huge selection of meats, vegetables, salads and desserts and gallons of iced tea and lemonade were at the ready.

My mouth watered as I smelled the delicious aromas and thought about what, and how much, I would eat. I couldn’t wait for the fried chicken and apple cobbler with ice cream.

At the appointed hour, the Methodist minister said grace and the party began. Eating was the main show but the adults were also consumed by talking with other family members and getting updates.

We kids had a wide variety of games to play and since it was always warm and humid in August our clean appearance quickly disappeared. Playing tag and pick-up games in our good summer clothes was probably not a good idea.

The food and drink tables were open for hours and we obligingly gorged ourselves. We justified this as a special event. We promised not to do it again, at least until next year or maybe Thanksgiving.

As the sun started to sink behind the trees, everyone realized it was probably time to start packing up. So after helping with the clean up and saying goodbye to old and new friends, I departed with my parents a little dirty, very tired, but happy and content.

Now I haven’t been back to Daniels Day or Roanoke Island in many years. I don’t even know if they hold the event anymore. I am sure things have changed there just like everywhere else. But one thing has never changed.

Even though I am now over sixty, I can think of no better worldly example of how beautiful Heaven must be than my memories of that wonderful picnic. But I also know it will be even better.

My life in Heaven will be without pain or the limitations of the human body and I will not just be with my family and friends but I will also be with the Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. And Heaven won’t end when the day is done. It will last for Eternity.

Oh, how wonderful it will be.

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This article has been read 451 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachael Severa07/12/12
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I did not know about the story of the first child born to English parents. You certainly had much to say.

One of the best things I can offer here, is what someone else told me, that is to "express" your story with a bit more of "showing". Example: When you described the Fried Chicken, and Apple Cobbler being good. Is there a story behind how it was made? Or, What about the people who attended, or activities went on? I hope this helps,and I enjoyed your piece. Thanks.
lynn gipson 07/12/12
How blessed you are to have memories like that. My own family was scatterd here and there. Thank you for this beautiful piece and for sharing it. I almost felt like I was there!

God Bless, Lynn
Jody Day 07/12/12
Sounds like so much fun! I can tell how fondly you remember the event. It was a little repetitive, but the ending was beautiful:)
Myrna Noyes07/12/12
What a wonderful picnic memory you shared with us! You made me see what a special event Daniel's Day was! :)

I liked the way you ended your story, too! I look forward to many picnics in Heaven!
C D Swanson 07/13/12
Lovely, touching and so well written. Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories. I enjoyed it.

God bless~
Genia Gilbert07/16/12
I enjoyed your entry. The best memories are always those with people we cared about. Your ending with being with Jesus puts the emphasis on what will make Heaven so wonderful - His presence for ever and ever.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/17/12
Your title drew me in. I have struggled with a death phobia since I was a child. I think one of my fears was what if heaven is boring? As a child I often found church services to be a tad monotonous and picture heaven to be similar.

Try to do more showing than telling. The word was is a passive verb and by switching some of these out with active verbs will help your reader be able to paint a picture in her head. For example -- The Daniels Day picnic was for everyone with lineage in the family, no matter how distant. Can be switched up just a bit -- All relatives, no matter how distant, reveled in the Daniels' (oh Daniels should have an apostrophe at the end to show it is their picnic) picnic by gorging themselves with fabulous food or entertaining everyone by playing a favorite game. (That's probably not the best example but I hope it shows you a bit of what I'm trying to say.) Another example with a similar thread would be your opening sentence. Instead of asking the reader a question it might be more of a grabber if you describe the MC musing with something like-- As a young child, I spent countless hours imagining the fun I'd have in Heaven.

I liked your take on the topic. Plenty of people wrote about family picnics this week but you made your story different and original by comparing it with heaven. I can't even begin to tell you what an impact your words have on my fears. I do have one question--Did you ever come across Andy Griffith during those wonderful days spent in his hometown island? Thank you for taking me back to a idyllic time. I think it's so important to share those memories lest we forget. I'm sure this story will be a treasured keepsake for many years in your family.
Jenna Dawn07/17/12
I love thinking about what heaven will be like! If you've never read the book, "Heaven is For Real", you should. I love anything that gives a glimpse of the glories of heaven, so thank you for your piece. It was definitely a nice twist to the topic.

In addition to passive verbs (is, was) I noticed you used a lot of prepositions (on, in, to). You can rephrase some sentences to eliminate some of them.

Example: As a boy in the 1950s, I always looked forward to the annual Daniels Day picnic in the fishing village of Wanchese, on Roanoke Island, in North Carolina.

Combined you have six prepositions and passive verbs connecting all your thoughts. It bogs the reader down and is not very interesting. An alternative way to say the same thing would be: As a boy in 1950s North Carolina, I always looked forward to the annual Daniels Day picnic in the Wanchese fishing village on Roanoke Island.

I eliminated two of the words in question, yet you could take it a step further with Shann's advice, by changing "looked forward to" to "relished". This adds a strong verb and makes the sentence more interesting, while "showing" how you felt about the picnic.

You had a whole slew of prepositions in the paragraph about Virginia Dare Day as well. Keeping up with the information being given in that paragraph was a bit of a chore. It would flow better and be more easily understood if it were less wordy, which is partially done by eliminating prepositions and passive verbs.

Example: The picnic was held on August nineteenth, Virginia Dare Day. This annual holiday celebrates the first American child birthed to English parents on Roanake Island. Virginia Dare–born August 19, 1587–was part of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony, which disappeared without a trace sometime between 1588 and 1590.

So there are a few things to chew on when writing your next piece. I do love the idea that heaven is a picnic and you painted a lovely picture of an interesting and unique annual picnic. Thank you!
Geoffrey johnstone07/19/12
There are some big ticks here. First of all you are on subject. Something I often have trouble with.

Secondly, you wrestle with a difficult subject. What happens when we die? You answered this without insulting our intelligence. For that I'm grateful.

If you want to be a serious writer don't be afraid to ask a trusted group of people to give you feedback. Some of my harshest critics have been my biggest help.

You have something to say. That much is obvious. Keep writing.
C D Swanson 07/19/12
Congratulations! God bless~
C D Swanson 07/19/12
Congratulations! God bless~
C D Swanson 07/19/12
Congratulations! God bless~
C D Swanson 07/19/12
Congratulations! God bless~
Jenna Dawn07/19/12