Kelly came on my radar a year and a half ago as a guest author on Triad Moms on Main. I was immediately drawn to her snarky, witty style of writing and started stalking following her. Shortly after that, she asked me to help her plan a “mom prom” that would benefit Dress for Success. I love Kelly and she inspires me with her writing and makes me push to be a better writer myself. I hope you enjoy her guest post and thanks to Kelly for sharing!


The swing-set straddles the peak of the roof; snow covered and shimmering, precarious and perfect. The A-frame is candy cane striped, green and white. There is a metal slide and a plastic teeter-totter and two curved swings hanging from gleaming metal chains. There is a set of rings. I could flip all the way around on those, I think, forward and backward. jumping (sister version)

Santa put it there. He dropped it right off his sleigh and it floated down and sat softly on a blanket of snow on the roof of my house, when I was seven years old.


I’ve have told this story over and over, it is my favorite Christmas memory. I look at it through the eyes of an adult and picture my father, still in his Wranglers and work boots, tightening the bolts of the swingset on the roof. Did he put it together on the roof, or on the ground? Did he have help? Did my mother watch with her heart in her throat and the phone in her hand as my Dad balanced and slipped and caught himself just in time? Did she silently squeeze his hand as they stood behind me and I cried out in wonder and surprise at the impossible sight?

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I have told this story over and over. I have no idea if it’s true.

I don’t know if it’s something that actually happened, or something I wished into being. The details are so sharp – the green stripe, the cold air in my lungs, my father’s hand on my shoulder – how could it not be real? How could it? I’m afraid to ask. I’m afraid of breaking the magic of this memory that I have carefully crafted. The sentiments remain true, it could have happened.

I am busy filling advent calenders and reading stories and moving mischevious elves around our house. I am manufacturing memories for my children of impossible things, praying each day that they believe. There is something about the month of December that allows us to stop being rational. It becomes acceptable to wear pajamas to school and drink hot cocoa every day and put antlers on our cars. The air is full of anticipation, of hope, of belief, that something magical is just around the corner.

Like a swing-set on the roof.

I could just call my mom and ask her, I think as I start to tell the story again. But the wonder in the eyes of my five year old stops me short and I know, it doesn’t matter. Magic is always real, if you want it to be.

Kelly Hines Southern Fried Children


Kelly Hines is the author of the blog Southern Fried Children – a mix of creative nonfiction and short stories about everything from kindergarten to meth heads. She lives in rural North Carolina with her long suffering husband, their three delightful children, and a chronically gassy dog. She holds advanced degrees in nothing, but is a pretty good dancer and makes a mean chicken pot pie.

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