The following was originally published in the Terrace Standard, December 24, 2014 as my monthly column “Just a Thought,” and though Christmas day has passed, I hope you still find my words appropriate. After all, the good parts of the holiday season–and maybe some of the hard aspects too–remain, as a brand new year looms bright and close, shiny with potential!
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I’m supposed to be writing a Christmas column, and I have the room’s mood and atmosphere just right. The tree is aglow. Tea light candles light every dark corner and make the shadows cozy. A tiny Victorian village rests on a mantle beside me, while a lovely, ancient-looking nativity scene takes the place of honor on our buffet. I even have a festive beverage.
But words and ideas are slow to come. I just want to daydream or putter about my house—a sure sign I have a deadline looming! Practically the only time I want to do housework is when I’m supposed to be writing something.
It’s not that I’m not feeling merry; it’s just that my thoughts are a jumble this month. I’m feeling that weird Christmas mixture of mingled joy, gratitude and excitement and sorrow and longing that seems to be part and parcel of the season.
My dad’s passing feels official now, and in a lot of ways I miss him more now than when my grief was fresh. It’s like it has finally sunk in after two years. He’s really gone, not just on an extended holiday or work trip, gypsy-ing around like he loved to do.
The anniversary of his death and my mom’s and my mother-in-law’s hit bang, bang, bang this time of year. It’s a cliché that you miss people more during the holidays—a cliché, I guess, because it’s true. And in another cliché, I find myself wishing desperately that I could talk to him, to them, even one more time. I have so much I want to say, so much I want to ask. . . .
On the other hand, I’m struck by the wonderful juxtaposition and celebration of life—and all its loveliest elements—anew this time of year.
My youngest niece turned one. So fun! A nephew has learned to read fluently and loves it (so, of course, I’m over the moon, as reading well is one of the greatest joys, most valuable teachers, sweetest of comforts, and strongest creators of connection to other people, ideas, and cultures that we can possess). One of my siblings has a baby on the way!
Other young relatives are growing from childhood into young adulthood and while it’s challenging for them and their parents sometimes, I love catching glimpses of the grown-ups they’ll be.
My daughter and her husband are full of Christmas plans and festive surprises for each other. So cute to watch. I often laugh as I take in their interactions and silly banter and feel a sense of wonder. Were C and I ever so young? And, of course, we were. I mean, we are. Heh heh.
My son, always good for holiday cheer, had almost every game we own out on the table the other night. No truer sign exists that the holidays are upon us than that!
And I guess those details hint at how I’m feeling as Christmas 2014 approaches, fortunate and blessed that even while my thoughts are filled with people I miss, I am simultaneously surrounded by family and friends I love so much. We don’t know how long we get to keep and enjoy our loved ones, so amid the fun, games, food and noise—and inevitable moody times or stress, mine and theirs—I aim to appreciate and treasure every minute with them.
Whether this year finds you happy or sad, stressed out or excited, lonely or pressured, mourning or joyful, may good memories warm you, and may you feel God’s presence and peace in 2015.
Well, here we are with only one more sleep ’til Christmas 2010. It came extra quickly this year didn’t it?
As some of you know, I’m working on unique-for-me type of story this December—a Christmas themed romance. I thought I’d just a tiny snippet from Candice’s Christmas prep, though admittedly, if you’re hitting the stores today (as I will be after work for just a few things), you’re probably going to be in a busier place than even she finds herself. 😉
The line up at the till was twelve heaping buggies deep, but the two express lanes were worse, with twenty people or more each looking like they’d taken “fifteen items” as a minimum suggestion not a rule, so Candice stayed where she was. The last Friday just before Christmas—what a stupid time to hit a grocery store!
As she stood waiting with her small basket of milk, eggs, bread, and frozen pizza—meant to hold them over to her “real” shop later in the weekend—she perused the droves of people milling about, shopping, laughing, fretting. It was kind of nice to stand still. A waste of time, obviously, when she had so many things to do, but kind of an enforced break all the same. She sipped the Eggnog Latte she’d splurged on and felt quite decadent as she played a game she hadn’t in a long while. Who was that person, what did they do, how were they feeling?
What I like about the scene (that will no doubt change immensely as it’s first draft stuff) is that even feeling stressed and cranky, Candice finds a few seconds of calm inside herself and even daydreams a bit. And that’s my wish for you this Christmas—not that you’ll be stressed or cranky at all, but that you’ll find some time to sneak away—whether you’re in a crowded place or not—to observe and ponder and feel just a bit decadent as you do so.
It’s December already—unbelievable, but fun. Deck the halls—falalalala!
I’m a bit afraid, however, because every month I play the “this is the month where everything will slow down and I’ll finally be able to write a little bit more” game—and every month, well, you play the game too, you know what happens: life doesn’t slow down; it only speeds up. Schedules don’t free up; they shuffle so we can fit more in.
But December? I don’t even try to fool myself. Lovely, full month that it is, I know my writing time will only shrink. But that’s okay this year—in fact, I’m looking forward to it. I managed to clear all recent “must write” goals (well, except for the ones I botched—cough, cough, Nano 2010), and with the exception of a few Ev’s Writing Services jobs, I am going to write for the pure fun of it this month.
You read that right. Pure fun. No goals other than to write at least twenty days this month (any subject, form, genre, no minimum word count), plus one tiny structured one. I’m going to enter Jen Brubacher’s very fun sounding contest.
The whole take-it-easy and play theme for December 2010 is a much-needed Christmas present to myself.
How about you? Do you write more or less during December? Do you give yourself a break or do you use the month as one last push to meet your goals before the year turns? Whatever you end up doing writing-wise, I hope you pour yourself some eggnog and really enjoy it.
p.s. It’s not that my writing isn’t fun all year—it’s just that usually it’s goal-orientated, stories I want to submit, a novel I want to pitch, etc. What will be fun about this month is that I have no prior intentions . . . . 😉
It’s Christmas Eve at last! I hope the day finds you happy and well–enjoying the day, not in shopping, wrapping hell . . . 🙂
Two days ago the kids and I made gingerbread for the first time ever and we spent yesterday building houses and decorating little people. Since this is a writing blog, let me just say: not enough good things can be said about flat characters. Except for Ed . . . Well, he’s an all right guy except that he’s loses his head in the drink at every party.
There was also an awkward moment when some girl my daughter knows showed up topless . . . However, I think it was more embarrassing for her than it was for us. Wrong party, Gingie-girl.
The cat was inordinately pleased with the day’s events and plans to use her powers of mind control to get us to slather icing and candy on everything every year.
I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is, Merry Christmas from my home to yours.
In 2010, may you eat lots of cookies, have lots of laughs, be surrounded by people you love and who love you back, and despite any hard circumstances, experience peace and joy.
I leave you with a quote that really moved me, and I think it’s my wish and plan for the New Year.
“If Christmas means anything, it should mean that, like shepherds of old, we catch a vision of the world as it ought to be and not as it is. This is the season where we should renew our determination to do what we can, each in our own way, to build a world founded on human brotherhood and concern for the needs of others.” ~ Tommy Douglas, a Baptist preacher who went on to later become the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party in Canada
Have a lovely Christmas. God bless.